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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.

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Daniel Kloepfer

Director of Research

Daniel Kloepfer serves as the Director of Research. Daniel was born in Cincinnati, Ohio and has spent over 10 years living in Athens County. He holds a Master’s degree in Public Policy from Oregon State University and a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Ohio University. He has over eight years of experience in program evaluation, project management, and data management and analysis. Daniel gained most of his professional experience at Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Service and has managed, coordinated, and assisted on a variety of projects, with a specific focus on health and education within Appalachian Ohio. He has served on the Board of the Ohio Program Evaluators Group and is a member of the American Evaluation Association. Previously, he served as the Program Coordinator of a small non-profit focused on environmental restoration and education in the greater Cincinnati region.


Currently, Daniel resides in Cincinnati with his wife and two young children. He spends his free time camping, hiking, training for triathlons, and going to sporting events with his family. He is very excited to be a part of the Appalachian Children Coalition.

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Elizabeth Jones

Director of Operations and Advancement

Elizabeth Jones is the Director of Operations and Advancement for the Appalachian Children Coalition, a non-profit organization working to build capacity and strategic investments across the 32-county Appalachian Ohio region to assure that the region’s children have access to the support services needed to help them grow into happy, productive adults.  Originally from Athens, Ohio, she returned to the region after spending 15 years working in Northeast Ohio and Northern Nevada. She has held leadership roles in both the for profit and non-profit communities. With a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science, a Master of Education degree in Higher Education Administration, and an MBA, Elizabeth is proud to be a child of Appalachia Ohio and is dedicated to enhancing the lives of the region's youth.

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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.


Anna Reed

Director of Workforce Support

Anna Reed serves as the Director of Workforce Support. Born in the Youngstown area, part of Ohio's Appalachian region, 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.


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.

Coalition Associates

The following individuals work on behalf of Appalachian Children Coalition.


Will Drabold

Sunday Creek Horizons

Zach Reizes

Sunday Creek Horizons

Malania Birney

Sunday Creek Horizons
Project Manager
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