HUNTINGTON, WV (WOWK) – March is Women’s History Month, and to celebrate, WOWK 13 News is honoring some of the women who are currently leaders in the City of Huntington:

Melanie Akers

Melanie Akers, MSN, RN, NEA-BC serves as the director for Hoops Family Children’s Hospital and Maternity Services at Cabell Huntington Hospital. Melanie oversees the 72-bed children’s hospital, which includes the 25-bed pediatric unit, the 10-bed pediatric ICU, the 36-bed NICU, the neonatal therapeutic unit, the child life program and several outpatient programs. She also oversees the Labor and Delivery unit, the Women’s Unit, the Mother-Baby Unit and the Invitro Fertilization Lab and Perinatal Center.

Through her leadership, the HFCH has opened a Child Advocacy Center, which offers children and families care to reduce the trauma experienced by child victims of abuse. She also helped to develop the Maternal Opiate Medication Support (MOMS) program which provides comprehensive treatment to postpartum women struggling with substance use disorder in a convenient location that promotes bonding between mother and baby.

Melanie also led the initiative to provide pediatric monoclonal antibody infusions for COVID-19 treatment.

She is active in state local and national levels of advocating for resolutions to child and family-related issues and serves on several boards dedicated to child health and to abuse prevention. Melanie is also a member of the National Children’s Hospital Association and has nearly 25 years of nursing experience and is a graduate of Marshall University where she received her MS in Nursing with an emphasis on nursing administration. She is also nationally certified as a nurse executive, advanced.

Tricia Ball

Tricia Ball is the President and CEO of the Huntington Regional Chamber of Commerce. Tricia is working with the Chamber and Board of directors to strengthen the city’s economic vitality, diversity and resiliency and make the Huntington area a more sought-after place to live and do business.

Originally from southwestern Pennsylvania, Tricia first came to the Mountain State to study at WVU where she received her bachelor’s degree. She went on to receive her master’s degree from the University of Florida. She says she took an interest in business and its transformative impact from her parents, who were small business owners.

Prior to leading the Chamber, Tricia held several positions at Marshall University, most recently Associate Director of the Lewis College of Business Center for Entrepreneurship and Business Innovation “iCenter.” Before her career at Marshall, Tricia worked in corporate marketing as an account manager, leading an international team of 15 employees. She is also part of the inaugural class of the Appalachian Regional Commission’s Appalachian Leadership Institute.

Tricia’s husband, Christopher, is a downtown Huntington business owner. They have two sons, Aaden and Ethan.

Lisa Chamberlin-Stump

Lisa Chamberlin-Stump serves as the Chief Strategy Officer for Mountain Health Network, leading the system’s enterprise strategic planning and implementation including business development, market research and analysis as well as corporate branding and campaigns.

Before joining Cabell Huntington Hospital in 2012, Lisa has worked in Florida and Ohio healthcare systems throughout her 28-year career and has served as a consultant, coach and speaker for hospitals across the country. She has received national recognitions including the American College of Healthcare Executive’s Early Healthcare Careerist Award and Top Hospital Marketer of the Year Award. Lisa is also a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives and the American Hospital Association’s Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development.

Lisa is a Certified Strategic Planner and received a BA from the University of Mount Union, Ohio and an MS in Healthcare Administration from the University of West Florida.

She currently serves on the Marshall University Center for Leadership Advisory Board, United Way of the River Cities Foundation, Little Victories Animal Rescue Board, The Huntington Regional Chamber of Commerce, and is a past president of the Board of the Huntington Symphony Orchestra.

Courtney Cross

Courtney Cross serves as the Executive Director of the Huntington Cabell Wayne Animal Control Shelter. She taught elementary school in Cabell County for 30 years before retiring from teaching to take her current position with the animal shelter.

Courtney says she is proud of the team who have been dedicated to transforming the shelter into a lifesaving haven where animals the animal’s care is a priority.

“I believe in second chances for animals and people, and I enjoy working with people who are also dedicated to saving animals.”

Courtney Cross

Courtney loves spending time with her husband, Pat, and her son, Fisher, walking her dogs and being outdoors. She also has an interest in photography, history, current events and historic preservation.

Rebecca Crowder

Rebecca Crowder is the executive director of Lily’s Place and is responsible for overseeing the programs and strategic plan of Lily’s Place Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome Center and Lily’s Place Family Center. She has 12 years of experience in recovery administration, and was instrumental in the opening of Recovery Point WV, a program that offers recovery services to those suffering from substance use disorder.

Under Rebecca’s leadership, Lily’s Place has gained national recognition and was highlighted in former First Lady Melania Trump’s Be Best campaign. She has played a key role in national discussions and presentations revolving around NAS, prenatal exposure, recovery programming and prevention. Rebecca says the conversations that surround NAS are becoming increasingly more widespread and the services Lily’s Place provides are tailored directly to combatting the epidemic. She says she strives to be part of the solution in a state that has been hit hard by the opioid epidemic and fights for the return of a health community for her own children and those she serves.

Rebecca says her husband’s support has helped her be able to follow her passion for helping others. In addition to her work at Lily’s Place, Rebecca also works as a developmental specialist for the West Virginia Birth to Three program and is a published children’s book author. She currently serves as Elite Ms. West Virginia, giving her another opportunity to represent Lily’s Place and its platform of creating healthier families while helping end the cycle of addiction.

Dr. Teresa Eagle

Dr. Teresa Eagle is the Dean of Marshall University’s College of Education and Professional Development. Teresa has devoted her career to education. She received her B.S. in Mathematics from Morris Harvey College, which is now the University of Charleston.

Teresa began teaching at Sherman High School in Boone County before returning home to Kanawha County and teaching college level mathematics at Nitro High school. She was named West Virginia Teacher of the Year in 1989 and spent the following year as an education specialist working for NASA’s Project Laser based at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

She received her Master’s degree in education administration from the West Virginia Graduate College, now part of Marshall, and returned to the Mountain State. Teresa spent the next few years serving administrative roles including assistant principal and curriculum supervisor. During that time, she earned an Ed.S in Educational Supervision from Marshall and an Ed.D in Educational Leadership Studies from WVU. She went on to become a Professor of Leadership Studies at Marshall and the university’s coordinator of doctoral programs in education. She took on the role of Dean in 2009, working closely with the WV Center for Professional Development in creating and delivering professional development for educators across the state.

Throughout her years of service, Teresa has served as President of the Southern Regional Council on Education Administration, and has been a member of several professional organizations including the National and WV associations of secondary school principals, Phi Delta Kappa, the National Council of Professors of Educational Administration, and the Alliance of Universities for Democracy. She has given presentations both throughout the US and internationally including conferences in Finland, England, Sarajevo and Croatia. She has maintained a close working relationship with the WV Department of Education serving terms on the West Virginia Commission on Professional Teaching Standards, the WVDE Educator Preparation Taskforce, and other efforts related to the enhancement of Educator Preparation in the state

Beth Hammers

Beth Hammers, MBA, serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Marshall Health. She has 30 years of experience in academic medicine administration and has served in a variety of roles from graduate student to director of Compliance & Risk Management to Chief Operating Officer during her time at Marshall Health.

Beth is a two-time Marshall University gradate, earning both her bachelor’s degree in business and her master’s degree in business administration from the Lewis College of Business. As the CEO, Beth serves as the chief administrative officer for both the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine and Marshall Health.

She is active in the Huntington community serving on numerous boards and committees. She is currently president of the PROACT Board of Directors and serves on the boards of The Education Alliance, Marshall University Research Corporation, Mountain Health Clinical Solutions, Peak Health, Team for West Virginia Children and the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce. She is a former president of the Cabell Huntington Hospital and Mountain Health Network boards of directors.

In 2016, Beth received the Changing the Conversation award, which is sponsored by the Charleston-Institute Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. for her work in social action. She is also a 2003 alumna of Leadership in West Virginia. in 2019, Beth served as a mentor for the inaugural class of the John Marshall Leadership Fellows at Marshall University and was named a West Virginia Wonder Woman by WV Living magazine.

Beth is married to Cabell County Prosecuting Attorney Sean “Corky” Hammers and is the mother of two children.

Robin Harmon

Robin Harmon is the principal at Highlawn Elementary School in Huntington. She has worked for Cabell County Schools for 38 years, serving as Highlawn Elementary School principal for the past 17 years, a position she calls “her dream come true.”

Throughout the course of her career, Robin’s roles have included teacher, basketball coach, tennis coach, math facilitator, assistant principal. Language Arts Supervisor, and now principal. Robin says she loves her students, their families, her staff, the Highlawn community and the City of Huntington. She says as an administrator, she knows she can’t make everyone happy, but always puts her students and their needs first.

Robin says she’s happiest when interacting with students and watching them learn. She says her greatest professional accomplishment was helping to realize the dream of a new building for Highlawn Elementary and loves that the new school is in the heart of the Highlawn community.

Jessica Hudson

Jessica Hudson is the Executive Director for Dress for Success River Cities, serving in the role since 2015. She had previously worked for several different non-profits throughout the Kanawha Valley before bringing her desire to positively affect people and communities to Huntington.

Jessica attended Concord University and then furthered her education by obtaining her Fundraising Management Certification through the Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis’ School of Philanthropy. She says she uses her education along with her natural ability to engage audiences through her own experiences to devote herself to her current cause of supporting and empowering women and to share her expertise with others. She says she is passionate about encouraging others to devote their time, talent and treasures to making their communities a better place.

In 2017, Jessica accepted the Momentum Award from Dress for Success Worldwide, recognizing the local organization’s achievements to overcome some significant obstacles to build a thriving and sustainable organization.

“The Huntington community is incredibly supportive. It is always a comfort to know that when there is a need in our community, that there will always be a multitude of people stepping up to help. In the same token, it is such a blessing to be in a position to have an impact on the lives of women in our community, through my work with Dress for Success. It is such a gift.”

Jessica Hudson, Executive Director for Dress for Success River Cities

Teresa Johnson

Teresa Johnson has served on the Huntington City Council for District 5 since being elected in 2020 but has been serving the community since relocating to the Fairfield Community of Huntington in 1978. She turned her passion of caring for children into a business, Heaven Sent Daycare, which is a Link Childcare provider for low-income parents. Teresa and her husband have also opened their home as temporary and permanent foster parents.

Her passion for caring for kids and dedication to the Fairfield Community is why she ran for City Council, where she now serves on multiple committees. Teresa is also active in her community outside of the council, as a Community Development Corporate board member, a Court Appointed Special Advocate volunteer, a member of Faith Health Appalachia, a youth advisor and minister at Real Life Christian Center Church, and the Fairfield Community Development Corporation, among several other groups and organizations.

Teresa and her husband Virgil have raised eight children and have four grandchildren.

“My experience with the children in this community is the driving force behind all that I do. I want to consider the children as a priority because they are the future.”

Teresa Johnson, Huntington City Council District 5

Barbara Miller

Barbara Miller has served as Huntington’s City Clerk since February 2002 when she was first appointed by the City Council. She first joined the office as an Assistant City Clerk when she was appointed by the City Council in September 2001.

As City Clerk, Barbara works to maintain city records, including the records of all city council and committee meetings. She also oversees city elections and administers oaths of office, maintenance of the Municipal Code and departmental budget preparation. As part of her duties, she also serves as executive secretary to the Policemen’s and Fireman’s Civil Service Commissions through record keeping and assisting in administering their testing processes. Barbara is also a member of the West Virginia Municipal League of Clerks and Recorders.

Before joining the City Clerk’s Office in 2001, she worked five years as an office manager at St. John’s Episcopal Church and 11 years as a secretary and executive assistant in the commercial lending division of Bank One, now the First Huntington National Bank.

Barbara is also involved in her community by volunteering at local food banks, reading at local schools, and working with various church youth programs. She is also a Sunday School teacher and former Girl Scout leader. While not working, Barbara enjoys spending time with her family, baking and gardening.

Holly Mount

Holly Mount has served on the Huntington City Council for District 6 since 2020. She was voted Council Chair in 2022 and serves on the city’s Planning Commission as well as the committees for Solid Waste Management & Recycling and Drug Control Policy. Holly moved to Huntington in 1999 to attend Marshall University, where she received her BS in Nursing. She then received her master’s in Nursing from Walden University.

Holly’s nursing career has spanned from Pediatric ICU where she did air and ground transports for critically ill children and travel nursing to now serving in a leadership role as the Director of Patient Experience at Mountain Health Network. She has also served on the boards of multiple area non-profits, such as Ronald McDonald House, NIOH, Power of 100 and the Huntington Children’s Museum.

While at Marshall, Holly met her husband, Jeremy, who also works in healthcare. They have two children, Caroline and Leo. Holly says the support of her family and friends helps her to juggle her work, public service and her children’s extracurricular activities.

Mary Neely

Mary Neely is the president of the Cabell County Board of Education. She has been a member of the BOE for 13 years and has served as the president for the past four years. Mary is a life-long Cabell County resident who attended St. Joseph High School and Marshall University. She says she is proud that her children and grandchildren have also received their educations through Cabell County Schools.

Mary is dedicated to pursuing 21st-century education standards, approaching her role as president as an objective and concerned citizen. She strives to achieve levels of excellence and a challenging curriculum for all students as well as improve the work environment for faculty and staff.

Before becoming a BOE member, Mary served as City Clerk of Huntington for 22 years and served on the Huntington City Council for 12 years. She has also served on multiple local, state and regional boards, including the Cabell County Planning Commission, the Tri-State Transit Authority, the KYOVA Interstate Planning Commission, the West Virginia State Ethics Commission and the City of Huntington Foundation.

Jan Rader

Jan Rader began serving as director of the Mayor’s Council on Public Health and Drug Control Policy on Feb. 11, 2022. To take on this new role in the community, Rader retired from her position as Huntington’s fire chief. After serving as a firefighter in Huntington since 1994, she was sworn in as chief in March of 2017, becoming the first woman to serve as chief of a professional fire department in West Virginia.

Even before taking on her current position, Jan has been active in the fight to end the opioid epidemic in West Virginia. She and two others were highlighted in the Netflix documentary “Heroine,” for their work. The documentary was nominated for an Oscar and left an impression on both politicians Hollywood A-Listers. She and her costars were even invited to the Academy Awards.

Jan was named WOWK’s local finalist for Remarkable Women in 2020 and was honored as one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2018.

“I want young women to know no matter where they are, whether they’re here or all across the country or the world, that the sky’s the limit. They can do what they want to do, and don’t let anyone tell you can’t do something.”

Jan Rader

Tia “Fix” Rumbaugh

Tia “Fix” Rumbaugh has served on the Huntington City Council for District 3 since being elected in 2020. A native of Ceredo, West Virginia, she graduated from New York University in 2000 with a BS in Speech and Interpersonal Communication. She has taught ESL throughout Asia, While teaching ESL, she took up residence in Beijing, China at Eton International, the largest international bilingual kindergarten. There, she was chosen to develop a Montessori-based mother-toddler enrichment program.

After several years overseas, Tia came home to West Virginia to create her own Montessori daycare program, So Social LLC. She has also recently opened Cabell County’s newest OST Child Care Center, Forest Adventure Co-Op, for children ages 5-13, and is in the process of opening another OST program on Huntington’s west end.

She says Huntington is a wonderful place to work, play, raise her own two children, Emmaleah and James, and for anyone to carve out their legacy and tributes to humanity.

Phyllis Smith

Phyllis Smith has served as the Cabell County Clerk since September 2017 and is currently in her first elected term. Before becoming County Clerk, Phyllis served as the town recorder for the City of Milton and served two terms on the Milton City Council.

Phyllis says her experience in county government goes back to 1985, when she began working as a Magistrate Assistant. After 10 years, she worked for the Cabell County Commission. Pin 1999, Phyllis ran for and was elected Cabell County Magistrate.

“This office allows me to ensure the security and integrity of the election process and the Vital Records that affect our everyday lives and affords me the opportunity to work with and see the public every day. I have devoted my life to public service because helping people is what I love to do.”

Phyllis is also active in the community, working with the Milton Rotary Club, Barboursville Lions Club, NAACP, Women’s Caucus, and Friends of the Library.

Phyllis Smith, Cabell County Clerk

Angie Swearingen

Angie Swearingen became Chief Operating Officer of St. Mary’s Medical Center in January 2022 and had previously served as the Vice President of Finance and Chief Financial officer for 11 years. She has more than 25 years of experience in health systems and hospitals, including positions at Tenet Healthcare in Hilton Head, S, Greenbrier Valley Medical Center in Lewisburg, St. Francis Hospital in Charleston and Raleigh General in Beckley.

Angie received both her bachelor’s degree in accounting and her master’s degree in healthcare administration from Marshall University. She serves on the board of the West Virginia Hospital Association and is a member of the West Virginia Healthcare Financial Management Association and the West Virginia Chapter of the American College of Healthcare Executives.

Angie is also active in her community, serving on the Marshall University College of Business Advisory Board and Executive Committee, the Provider Response Organization for Addiction Care and Treatment Board and Executive Committee, the Huntington Regional Chamber of Commerce Board and Executive Committee, the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center Board and the West Virginia Neighborhood Investment Program Advisory Board.

Sarah Walling

Sarah Walling serves on the Huntington City Council for District 4. She was appointed in July 2021 and was elected Vice-Chairwoman in January 2022. Walling works as Chief Legal Officer for OVP Health, overseeing the legal aspects of the company’s operations, providing legal advice to senior management and directing legal strategies. Before her current position, she practiced law for 12 years with Jenkins Fenstermaker, PLLC, where she specialized in insurance coverage and defense, labor and employment, and municipal liability.

Walling is dedicated to her community and also serves on the Huntington Planning Commission and the Board of Directors of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Tri-State, Facing Hunger Food Bank, CONTACT Crisis Center and Little Victories Animal Rescue. She is also a fomer president of the Cabell County Bar Association and the Junior League of Huntington.

Kelly Watts

Kelly Watts serves as Deputy Superintendent of Instruction and Leadership for Cabell County Schools. She has served in numerous education roles in her 28-year career. She has been a finalist for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and was selected as a Great Teacher of West Virginia. She says her best days in the position are when she gets to be out in the schools watching the students engaged in quality instruction.

Watts has previously served as Executive Director of the Regional Education Service Agency 3, the Assistant Executive Director and Director of Professional Development for the Regional Education Service Agency 2. She has also previously served as a county math facilitator for Wayne County Schools and as a classroom teacher. Watts has also earned a Title 1 Commendation, her National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Certification in Mathematics.

She has created curriculums and presented professional development from the local to international levels in several academic subjects as well as instructional strategies and teacher efficacy. Watts has also written grants for which she has been awarded $7 million, published 20 articles in research journals and a monograph of her work in education.

Her degrees include Associate of Applied Science in Accounting, Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education with Math 5-9 endorsement, Master of Arts in Elementary Education and Middle School Mathematics, Leadership Certification from Marshall University, and superintendent’s certification from Salem University. Watts has two children and is a Gamma to three grandsons and enjoys cooking, working out and spending time with family and friends.

“Building a structure of support is crucial to the success of today’s students. We live in a global world, and we must prepare our students to be competitive at all levels.”

Kelly Watts, Deputy Superintendent of Instruction and Leadership for Cabell County Schools