Staff

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Randy Leite, Ph.D.

Executive Director

Randy Leite, Ph.D. serves as executive director of the Appalachian Children’s Coalition. Leite developed a commitment to the Appalachian region during his 12-year tenure as dean of the College of Health Sciences and Professions at Ohio University. His work as executive director extends his commitment to bringing benefit to children in need and in supporting those who work to meet the needs of children facing a range of behavioral health challenges. 

 

Leite has had a long interest in child and family well-being. He holds a doctoral degree in Human Development and Family Science from The Ohio State University and has conducted research and taught on father involvement with children, family dynamics, and child & family policy. His interest in this area is also reflected in his having been appointed by Ohio’s three most recent governors to serve as a commissioner on the Ohio Commission on Fatherhood where he works to promote meaningful father involvement with children. He has been involved in numerous community organizations and initiatives including contributing to the development of Live Healthy Appalachia, promoting the establishment of AthensHOPE and the Age-Friendly Athens initiatives, and serving on the boards of numerous organizations including Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio, Integrated Services for Behavioral Health, OhioHealth O’Bleness Hospital, Rural Action, Live Healthy Appalachia, and the Ohio Child Care Resource and Referral Association.

 

Leite and his wife Theresa, a certified nurse midwife, split their time between Hilliard and Athens. They have three children and two grandchildren.

rleite@appchildren.org

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Marsha Lewis

Director of Research

Marsha Lewis, Ph.D. serves as Director of Research for the Appalachian Children Coalition. Her career has focused on applied research in education, public health, and community development. She worked at Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Service for 29 years, teaching in the Master of Public Administration program and leading applied research and evaluation projects, mostly based in Ohio’s Appalachian region. Marsha has served and continues to serve on numerous state and national advisory committees focused on making data accessible to practitioners and supporting the use of data to make the best decisions for children. She currently participates in Ohio’s Regional Data Leads network as a higher education partner and is a key investigator on a U.S. Department of Education project focused on supporting K-12 educators in the use of evidence-based interventions. She also serves as a data analyst for the Ohio Colleges of Medicine Government Resource Center. Lewis has a master's degree in Public Administration and a Ph.D. in Educational Research and Evaluation. Marsha has lived and worked in Appalachian Ohio most of her life. She currently lives in Jackson with her husband who is in his 34th year of teaching in Pike County, Ohio. 

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Elizabeth Jones

Director of Operations and Advancement

Elizabeth is the Director of Operations and Advancement for the Appalachian Children Coalition. Originally from Athens, she returned to the region after 15 years spent working in Northeast Ohio and Northern Nevada.

 

Her professional career has included leadership roles for a professional physician association and in sales for Abbott Laboratories. Since her return to Athens, she has worked at Ohio University in outward facing roles in alumni relations and fundraising as well in graduate student support for the College of Health Sciences and Professions. Elizabeth also worked as a business consultant for TechGROWTH Ohio assisting entrepreneurs.

 

She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science, a Master of Education degree in Higher Education Administration, and a MBA. She lives in Nelsonville with her daughter, Corinne, who is a student at Ohio University. As a child of Appalachia Ohio, she is excited to be part of the ACC and working to improve the lives of today's Appalachian youth.

ejones@appchildren.org

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Peggy Garcia

Director of Community and Partner Relations

Peggy was born in Caracas, Venezuela and raised in Southern California. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from the University of Arizona in Tucson, AZ.

 

Peggy has dedicated her life to serving the underserved. She spent ten years working with victims of crime and at rape crisis centers across three states. She settled in Athens, OH in 2012 and has loved living in Rural Appalachia. Peggy most recently worked as the Director of Athens County Family and Children First Council helping provide service coordination for multi-system youth in the county. Through her work with FCFC, Peggy was able to see firsthand how the workforce crisis impacts children and families in rural Appalachia. She is dedicated to building the Workforce Development project with Appalachian Children Coalition and looking forward to being a change agent in the area.

 

Peggy enjoys spending her down time with her fiancé and two children taking advantage of community events and exploring all the wonderful hiking trails in the area.

pgarcia@appchildren.org

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Anna Reed

Director of Workforce Support

Anna Reed serves as the Director of Workforce Support. Born in the Youngstown area, a northern Appalachia county of Ohio, she attended Youngstown State University for both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, with the latter being in Student Affairs and College Counseling.

 

She began her career working in higher education as the Assistant Director of Wellness at Bradley University in Illinois, where she implemented a holistic wellness model as well as wellness initiatives, programs, and assessments for the campus. She then moved back to Ohio as Admissions Counselor for the Job Corps program, a Department of Labor program. In this role, she served 6 of the northern Appalachian counties of Ohio, working with low-income young adults ages 16-24 who qualify for free education, training, housing, and job placement opportunities.

 

As the Director of Workforce Support for the ACC, Anna leads the effort to recruit and retain the behavioral health workforce for Appalachia Ohio. Working with the partners and affiliates of the ACC, she will also develop and implement strategies to build awareness of behavioral health careers and opportunities among high school students, students enrolled at higher education institutions, displaced workers and adults who may be considering career changes.

 

She currently lives in Tallmadge, Ohio with her husband and twins.

areed@appchildren.org

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Sara White

Director of Education and Training

Sara is the Director of Education and Training. Originally from Belmont County, Ohio, she holds a bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies and a Master’s in Law, Justice, and Culture, both from Ohio University. With over ten years of experience working in higher education, she has extensive experience in academic advising, creative consensus building, and strategic planning.

 

Most recently, she served as the Assistant Dean for Student Success at the College of Health Sciences & Professions at Ohio University, where she oversaw the entirety of the student services operation, taught first-year seminar courses, and worked with students throughout the college life cycle from high school recruitment, orientation, and graduation.

 

Sara will lead the Education and Training effort of the workforce hub through direct work and partnership with higher education institutions and training centers to create innovative and collaborative educational pathways for behavioral health professionals and paraprofessionals.

swhite@appchildren.org

Coalition Associates

The following individuals work on behalf of Appalachian Children Coalition.

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Will Drabold

Sunday Creek Horizons
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Zach Reizes

Sunday Creek Horizons
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Malania Birney

Sunday Creek Horizons
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Kaitlyn Cummings

Sunday Creek Horizons