November 14, 2022
Chenelle Coy-Williams, LaToya Davis, and LaQwanza Jackson are social workers with Kanawha County Schools, passionately supporting students and their success.
Her friends describe her as passionate with a big heart. Chenelle Coy-Williams is a woman who wears many hats in the Charleston community. Chenelle has been a Keep Your Faith Corporation (KYFC) therapist for the past year and a social worker with the Kanawha County Child Protective Services for the past 15 years. While supporting the students in her school, Chenelle has been able to standardize family support, create strategic interventions and incentives, and emphasize the importance of individual environmental factors and social, emotional, and mental health on attendance, behaviors, and overall academic performance. Recently, KYFC appointed Chenelle as their Outreach Events and Community Engagement Director. Her passion is for youth, and she does her utmost to ensure they have a trauma-free childhood. Chenelle is a 2004 West Virginia State University (WVSU) graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Social Work. She also earned her Addictions Counselor and Youth Specialist Certification from BridgeValley Community & Technical College in 2013 and a Master of Science in Social Work from Marshall University in 2020.
LaToya R. Davis was born and raised in McDowell County, West Virginia. She moved to Charleston to attend WVSU in 1999 and graduated in 2004 with a Bachelor of Science in Social Work. LaToya received her Master of Science in Social Work from West Virginia University in 2011. She currently works as an Assistant Attendance Director at Capital High School. For the last 11 years, her focus has been improving students' attendance to increase their likelihood of graduating. LaToya is a member of the All Nations Revival Center and a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated.
LaQwanza Jackson is a wife and proud mother of two energetic boys. A native of Brooklyn, New York, LaQwanza's West Virginia journey began in High School. She planned to return to Brooklyn after graduation but chose to stay in West Virginia after receiving a scholarship to WVSU. She graduated from WVSU with her Bachelor of Science in Social Work in May 2005. She then earned a Master of Science in Strategic Leadership from Mountain State University in March 2008 and a Master of Science in Social Work from West Virginia University in May 2013. Her Kanawha County Schools career began in August 2013. LaQwanza's past positions included Educational Outreach Counselor at the WVSU Upward Bound Program for three years, WVSU Admissions Counselor and Recruiter for three years, and Social Worker at the Children's Home Society of West Virginia for four years. She is a Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated member and is committed to community service.
November 7, 2022
Kezia Campbell-Erskine is a Guyanese Attorney-at-Law who specialises in public international law and development policy. She holds a Master of Laws in Energy and Environmental Law from the University of Aberdeen where she studied as a Chevening Scholar. Her legal education commenced at the University of Guyana where she read for a Bachelor of Laws. Following this, she advanced to the Hugh Wooding Law School in Trinidad and Tobago where she obtained a Legal Education Certificate.
Currently, Kezia serves as the Head of the Legal and Treaties Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in Guyana, a role which positions her as the Ministry’s principal legal advisor. Through her work, she proffers advice to senior Government officials which contributes to policy-making, safeguarding Guyana’s compliance with its international obligations and strengthening Guyana’s relationships with its international partners. A problem-solver by nature, Kezia believes in facing challenges head-on and enjoys working in a continuously evolving field.
Driven by a deep passion for youth work, Kezia is no stranger to volunteerism and community service. She served as one of Guyana’s youth delegates to the Commonwealth Youth Council, an executive member of the Caribbean Regional Youth Council and a member of several youth-led organisations in Guyana including the National Youth Council and the Benab Foundation. Having overcome many adversities herself, Kezia is always seeking opportunities to help others achieve their goals. She currently serves as a Youth Pastor and Sunday School teacher in her local church.
Kezia thoroughly enjoys adventure travel with her husband and spending quality time with her family. If not an Attorney, Kezia might have been a chocolatier. She loves making desserts and sharing them with her loved ones.
October 27, 2022
It was my honor to chat with Debby Weinstein, a little over two months before she transitions to retirement. A renowned, passionate West Virginia leader, Deb has served as CEO of the YWCA Charleston since July 1997. Her work with the YWCA began in 1983 when she spent a year as a residential advocate for battered women and children in the YWCA’s emergency shelter, Hope House. Debby devoted the next nine years to serving as the Director of the YWCA Sojourners Shelter for Homeless Women and Families. Deb left Charleston for family reasons in 1983 and after a four-year stint as the Executive Director of YWCA Missoula, she returned in June 1997 to assume the position that she holds today.
Debby has worked with numerous boards, coalitions, and committees to find solutions for such issues as racism, poverty, health care for the indigent, homelessness, elder abuse, and others. She is a graduate of The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington.
October 20, 2022
This special episode of Fostering Solutions is a compilation of two messages I recently shared at my church – Ferguson Memorial Baptist – in Dunbar, West Virginia. They are both about Judge Deborah from the Bible. Take a listen and I pray that you are inspired by the life of a formidable woman in the Bible.
October 17, 2022
A West Virginia native, Denitra Bruer is an Environmental Health and Safety Improvement Manager with Dow Chemical Corporation in Freeport, Texas. Denitra earned her undergraduate degree from West Virginia University and a Master of Science degree from The Ohio State University, both in chemical engineering. Denitra’s engineering career spans over 20 years and includes positions in process engineering, project management, quality management systems, site logistics, and environmental health and safety, all with Dow.
Not only is Denitra a chemical engineer, but she also has a passion for people and fitness. She began her fitness journey as a personal trainer for Bally’s Fitness while working on her master’s degree. She is a NASM-certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Nutrition Specialist. An award-winning, professional bodybuilder, Denitra’s passion is fitness: classes, in-person and in-app training, and bodybuilding coaching.
October 10, 2022
Oma S. Holloway, Chief Operating Officer, joined Bridge Street Development Corporation in 2015 as Director of Community Engagement spearheading Youth Workforce Development, Tenant Support Services, and Economic Development. She has over 25 years of professional work experience managing and consulting with non-profit programs and organizations in New York City. As Chief Operating Officer, Oma manages Bridge Street’s economic development initiatives, grants management, and youth workforce development portfolio that includes the growth and expansion of merchant association; Open Streets in Bedford Stuyvesant; Commercial District Needs Assessment; and technical assistance for small business owners. Oma secures over 1100 paid internships annually for young adults to support local businesses and not-for-profit organizations in addition to expanding program services for young adults at Bridge Street to include Cure Violence and Restorative Justice programs.
Bridge Street Development Corporation is a 501c(3) non-profit organization with a mission to provide civic and economic opportunities to the residents of Central Brooklyn with an emphasis on low-to moderate income residents. They do this by building partnerships with businesses, government, and other community stakeholders. Since 1995, Bridge Street has continuously worked to serve the Bedford Stuyvesant and Central Brooklyn community and has become a trusted provider of information, economic development, affordable housing and social services, as well as a convener of community engagement activities.
October 3, 2022
Dr. Foster’s guest on this episode of Fostering Solutions is Dr. Kristi Williams Dumas. Kristi is a native of California and transplant to West Virginia. She received a Bachelors of Science from California University Bakersfield, a Masters of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy from California State University Northridge, and a Doctorate of Psychology with an emphasis in Forensics from Argosy University of Orange. She has worked in the mental health field for over 25 years. Dr. Dumas is a forensic psychologist by trade. She is recognized as a qualified expert witness and routinely provides court testimony on the local, state, and federal levels. Kristi and her husband own Dumas Psychology Collective, a licensed behavioral health center and The Brain Training Center WV, a wellness center that offers neurofeedback brain training, yoga, and holistic health classes. Kristi is dedicated to the betterment of her community through philanthropy and civic engagement. She is the newest member appointed to the Governor’s Council-Public Education Subcommittee for the State of West Virginia. Her role is to develop initiatives and campaigns to reduce the stigma around mental health. Dr. Dumas serves as a Commissioner on the Raleigh County Human Rights Commission. Kristi is honored to be the West Virginia Alumni Fellow of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation where she represents and advocates for the over 5.5 million military caregivers across the nation. She is a member of American Psychology Law Society, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, The Links Incorporated, Beckley Rotary Club, and Downtown Beckley Business Association. Kristi is co-host of the Bloody Mary Quilt Society Podcast and the author of the book Unstuck: Moving Toward Your Ideal Life.
September 30, 2022
Assignment Guyana: Hannah Porter Pursuing her Passion in the Peace Corps
Hannah Porter, a 2022 graduate of Angelo State University, accepted an assignment to serve in the Peace Corps. She left her home in Austin, Texas earlier this week to spend the next 27 months teaching in Guyana, South America. A native of Guyana, Dr. Foster speaks with Hannah in this episode about pursuing her passion for teaching in the land of many waters.
September 26, 2022
Changed Assignment: President Ericke Cage
President Ericke Cage is Dr. Foster’s guest on this episode of Fostering Solutions. The 13th president of West Virginia State University, President Cage is a native of Halifax County, Virginia. He joined the university in July 2021 as vice president and chief of staff and was subsequently appointed by the Board as the university’s chief operating officer on July 30, 2021, with responsibility for managing the day-to-day operations of the university. Since assuming the leadership of West Virginia State University, Cage has prioritized institutional stabilization and operational optimization, renewal of the “state spirit,” the development and expansion of high demand academic programs, and the cultivation of a diverse range of internal and external relationships to support WVSU’s forward momentum and growth.
Under Cage’s leadership, the university was able to obtain historic levels of state funding for its land-grant programs and Healthy Grandfamilies program during the recently concluded state legislative session. Also, the university recently obtained a more than $700,000 grant from the Kanawha County Commission to launch a Cybersecurity Innovation Center at WVSU in fall 2022. Plans are also underway to add the university’s first doctoral degree program in education.
Prior to joining WVSU, Cage most recently served as executive advisor to the president and Board of Visitors at Norfolk State University in Norfolk, Virginia – where as a member of the university’s executive management team he served as principal advisor to the university president and board of visitors on matters related to institutional policy making, governance, government relations, and university ombudsman. Cage also served as speechwriter for Norfolk State’s presidents and board chairs.
While at Norfolk State University, Cage led the university’s 2019-2025 strategic plan committee, served as the chief architect of the university’s 2019-2020 self-assessment, and modernized the university’s policymaking process to improve decision making and compliance. As a former education lobbyist, Cage was instrumental in expanding Norfolk State’s presence and impact on Capitol Hill and before the Virginia General Assembly.
He directly supported outreach efforts that helped Norfolk State secure the largest state appropriation in the history of the university. While at Norfolk State, Cage also authored a successful $2.7 million grant proposal to support student access, retention, and completion. As the principal advisor and speechwriter to Norfolk State’s presidents and governing board chairs, Cage played a pivotal role in developing the institution’s strategic priorities and crafting the narratives that helped to move these priorities forward. As university ombudsman, he advanced a culture of care and inclusion at Norfolk State by serving as a confidential resource for employees as they worked through issues of conflict and challenge.
Prior to joining Norfolk State University, Cage served as director of government affairs for Teach for America, and also served as state policy and research director for the Obama-Biden 2012 reelection campaign. Cage served as legislative counsel for U.S. Congressman Tom Perriello, where he managed a legislative portfolio that included federal education, healthcare, defense, and veterans affairs policy. Cage also served as a law clerk for the U.S. Department of Defense, and a legislative fellow for the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs. He also served as a congressional fellow in the office of U.S. Congressman Keith Ellison. During law school, he completed summer legal placements in the New York City Law Department’s Special Litigation Unit and at Prudential Financial Corporation. Cage began his professional career as a high school government teacher in his hometown of Halifax County, Virginia, where he was recognized as teacher of the year by the senior class in 2004.
Cage is a graduate of Virginia Tech and the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets where he earned a bachelor’s degree in political science with a minor in leadership studies. He holds a juris doctorate from the Rutgers University Law School, where he served as an Associate Editor of the Women’s Rights Law Reporter, Associate Editor of the Rutgers Business Law Journal, Member of the Rutgers Moot Court Board, and Third Circuit Governor of the American Bar Association’s Law Student Division. Cage holds a masters of law degree in litigation and dispute resolution from the George Washington University Law School. He is also a graduate of the United States Air Force’s Air Command and Staff College and the University of Virginia’s Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership.
Cage currently serves on the boards of the Mountain East Conference, the West Virginia State University Research and Development Corporation, and the West Virginia State University Foundation. He is a past board member of the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets Alumni Association and the U.S. Selective Service System (local board). Cage is an active member of the Rotary Club of Charleston, West Virginia.
September 21, 2022
Matt Young, Head Coach of Genesis Running, is Dr. Foster’s guest on this episode. Dr. Foster was coached by Matt for several years and is a 10K runner. She believes that any able-bodied person can run and it’s a wonderful way to get and stay fit. The Genesis 5K Program is a great way to start your running journey. There are several classes during the year in three locations. The next one starts on September 26. Check out genesisrunning.info for more information.
In Matt’s words, “I’ve raced on roads and trails in events from 5ks to 100 miles, century bike rides, and triathlons but I don’t win races. I’m not a superstar runner, but I’ve learned some things along the way that have helped me improve over the past 23 years and I love to share those lessons with others. I’m a Road Runner Club of America certified coach and have been certified to teach natural running, running the way the body is made to do it. The Genesis 5k training program started in 2007 after I watched my dad, who at the age of 64, went from barely running ¼ mile to running a 4-mile race in just nine weeks. So I thought, if it works for him it can work for anyone. Since 2007 we’ve had over 3500 people in the Kanawha Valley learn to run through Genesis Running. Running is the easiest, most affordable, most portable, and most efficient exercise you can do but so many people don’t know where to start, and that’s why I’m here to help.”