Candidates for coalition leadership share biographies

These biographies are an opportunity for all Active Membership to familiarize themselves with the 8 new Leadership Team candidates as well as the 3 returning Leadership Team members and the fiscal agent for the SWC FY 2024 Election slated for in person, December 21, 2023, at 10:00 AM or via Survey Monkey by December 28th.

The voting will take place from December 21, 2023, to December 28, 2023, ending at midnight.

Brenna Link

Running for Vacant Seat

Brenna is originally from Southern California but spent most of her life in Roanoke. The last almost five years she has lived in Danville working in public health and substance abuse prevention.

She received her Bachelor of Science in Health and Exercise Science from Jefferson College of Health Sciences (now Radford University Carillion), and her Master of Public Health with a concentration in Health Promotion from Liberty University.

Following graduation, she was with the Danville-Pittsylvania Community Services Board for 3 years as the Coalition Coordinator for RASAP (Regional Alliance for Substance Abuse Prevention) and then moved to the Virginia Department of Health as the Population Health Manager for the Pittsylvania-Danville and Southside Health Districts. She is a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES), Youth and Adult Mental Health First Aid Instructor, REVIVE! Opioid Overdose and Naloxone Education Instructor and Master Trainer, and Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Presenter.

Although she does not reside in Southside, she enjoys her time spending time in and serving the Southside communities. Brenna has a passion for health and prevention education and is a proud
member of the Southside Wellness Coalition.

Justin Jackson

Running for Vacant Seat

Justin Jackson was born and raised in Brunswick, Virginia, and is currently teaching at James Solomon Russell Middle School. In 2016, Justin attended the Youth Alcohol and Drug Prevention Project, is an annual conference held by Virginia ABC every year at Longwood.

Being around that type of positivity is what kept him going and inspired him all those years. In 2023, he was asked to sponsor a team, and of course, he said yes.

Being around positivity and being able to work with SWC has been great! He hopes to continue that on the SWC Leadership board

Sherry Elaina Martin

Running for Vacant Seat

Sherry was born in Carrollton, Georgia, and attended the University of West Georgia before moving to Bamberg, Germany. There, she was an active volunteer with the 173 rd ABCT Family Readiness Group, eventually serving as Co-leader, Secretary, and Treasurer. After returning to the states, she studied psychology extensively at Harford Community College in Bel Air, Maryland.

Sherry moved to Southside Virginia in 2012, and worked as an office administrator for a urology clinic and as an EMT during her first few years here. 

Since June of 2023, Sherry has been the Housing Case Manager at Tri-County Community Action Agency. While the position and work involved is a career pivot, the core goal remains the same:
serving the members of the community she is a part of. Sherry recently passed the HUD Housing Counselor’s exam and is looking forward to using her new skills and knowledge to assist her clients and her community. 

Sherry currently lives in South Boston with her son Holton and her dog, Lou. Sherry is proud to be a member of the Southside Wellness Coalition, and honored to be considered for a role in its
leadership team. She looks forward to serving the Coalition’s goals in the future, and is excited to see what we can do to continue to do for the benefit of the community we serve.  

Jeanette Grimes

Running for Vacant Seat

Jeanette considers herself a Jersey girl with Virginia flavor.  She was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and grew up partly in beautiful Southside Virginia. She presently resides in Lawrenceville, Virginia.

Jeanette earned her College Preparatory High School diploma from New Brunswick High School, New Brunswick, NJ. She earned her Master of Human Services degree in 2010 from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. Her master’s research includes community organizing, substance abuse, addiction, and recovery solutions. She enjoys her position of Community Health Worker with Brunswick Health Ambassadors in partnership with the Virginia Department of Health.

Ms. Grimes has over 3 decades of experience working with and for non-profit organizations. Ms. Grimes was trained in New Jersey as a State Advocacy Leader. Jeanette has had the opportunity to work as an advocate in various capacities. 

Jeanette is the CEO of LEZEAL Enterprises, where she is: “Leading and Leaving a Legacy of ZEAL!” She loves conducting helpful information sharing workshops.  In 2021, Jeanette created COVID Care Packages to distribute to persons recovering from COVID at home. She is also a two-time bestselling author.

Jeanette places highest priority on her God-relationship, family and working with families holistically. She has five biological children, many non-biological “bonus” children, and an abundance of grandchildren. Jeanette believes children are our present joy and future leaders. Jeanette considers it an honor to help guide children and families towards healthy success. She places high priority on volunteering to give back to the overall community.

Jeanette is grateful for each opportunity to help communities and families. She expresses her gratitude to be a part of positive community-building and likes to leave audiences with the words, “I wish you well and I wish you wealth in every area of your life.”  

Dr. Adla Angelina

Running for Vacant Seat

Adla grew up in Chicago; she received her bachelors of science in medical microbiology and immunology from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, and her medical doctor degree from the University of Illinois College of Medicine. Her specialty was clinical pathology and transfusion medicine.

She and her husband lived in Denver, Colorado, for many years. They retired and moved to South Boston, Virginia, in 2021. Adla looks forward to working with the Southside Wellness Coalition leadership team as they seek to improve the wellbeing of the Southside community.

Christine Pennington

Running for Vacant Seat

Christine Pennington was born and raised in Virginia Beach, Virginia. She has resided in the Mecklenburg/Lunenburg area for the last twenty years. Christine’s background is in education as both a classroom teacher across school levels and as a high school counselor. She has over twenty years of public and private education experience.  Her passion for teaching and community extends beyond the classroom in the multiple civic roles she has held to promote community and student resiliency. 

Christine has served as the chair for the Virginia Tiered System of Support and currently serves on the board of the local Trauma Informed Community Network (TARP). Christine also served as an adjunct professor for the College Within Walls program through Southside Community College. She is the co-founder of Resilient Pathways, a community-based agency in Chase City that serves youth and families. The mission of Resilient Pathways is to uplift youth and empower families to become stronger and more resilient. This organization works as a liaison to other community service organizations to ensure the needs of all citizens are met.

Additionally, Christine oversees a non-profit project to help court-involved youth develop positive decision making skills and create a vision for their future. Her goal is to help youth find their purpose, know their worth, and live protective, happy lives.

Christine has earned a Bachelor’s in Psychology, a Master in Human Services Counseling, and currently is working to complete her Doctorate in Trauma and Crisis. With a background in special education and counseling and a certification as a trauma specialist, the emotional needs of children and families are always at the forefront of her focus. The desire to serve on the Leadership Team of the Southside Wellness Coalition is based on her belief that rural communities have many unmet needs, but through collaborative, educated efforts the right resources can evolve.

Christine lives in Lunenburg with her husband, Berk.  Together they enjoyed raising five beautiful children.

Sgt. Will Stembridge

Running for Vacant Seat

William (Will) was born in South Boston, Virginia, and raised in Wylliesburg, Virginia, where he followed in his fathers’ footsteps of being a volunteer firefighter and serving his community while growing up. Not long after graduating from Randolph Henry High School, Will started working for South Hill Police Department as a dispatcher. Will left and worked as a jailer 911 dispatcher for Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office, ultimately becoming a police officer in the town of Chase City.

Throughout his tenure at the Chase City Police Department he has advanced through the ranks holding the title of Patrolman, Sergeant, and currently Lieutenant. Will is a big proponent of community policing and solving problems throughout the community. Will has public safety events for the community to become engaged with officers and build trust between law enforcement and citizens.

Throughout his career Will completed his Associates Degree in Administration of Justice at Southside Virginia Community College in 2017 and his Bachelor’s Degree in Administration of Justice and Business Management at Liberty University in 2020.

Will currently lives in Red Oak, Virginia with his girlfriend, daughter, and son. Will continues to serve as a volunteer of his home community as the Fire Chief of the Bacon District Volunteer Fire Department. He is also a member of Hebron Church of Saxe, Virginia.

Laura Castle

Running for Vacant Seat

Laura attended Winthrop University in Rock Hill, SC, and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology in 1996. She then attended Radford University and graduated with a MA in Counseling Psychology in 1999. She and her husband Richard moved to Southside VA in 1999 just after graduating from Radford.

Laura began working in the community shortly after graduation and August 2023 marked her 24th  year in the profession. Over the past 24 years she has worked for a variety of local mental health agencies including Southside Behavioral Health, Rivermont Schools and Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital.  Additionally, she and her husband own and operate their own private counseling practice, which they established in 2002. 

For the past 5 years, Laura has been employed full time with Sentara Behavioral Health where she was hired in March 2018 as the Partial Hospitalization Program Coordinator. In this most recent position, she has been responsible for the creation, implementation, and day to day operations of the partial hospitalization program which meets a critical need in the community providing more intensive mental health services to community members while allowing them to remain at home and in the community. 

Sgt. Jamie King

Returning Member

Jamie King was born and raised in Chase City, VA. He graduated from Bluestone High School in Skipwith in 1994. Jamie attended the Central Virginia Police Academy. He returned home to his Alma Mater where he served as a School Resource Officer from 2003 through 2015. Jamie spent this time learning proactive policing and ways to help prevent crimes through building relationships with the school community and throughout his county. He spent a great deal of time educating the school system locally and in other jurisdictions on gang influenced behaviors and trends.

Jamie then transitioned to special investigations in which he conducted long term investigations to combat drugs and gangs in his community. Jamie has recently transitioned back into our schools supervising Mecklenburg County’s School resource officers, where he spends most of his time at our new high school, middle school complex. He is currently an instructor at Central Virginia Police Academy and is also a local CIT instructor and continues to serve his county as a hostage negotiator. Jamie is in his twentieth year of service for Mecklenburg County.

Liam Hudson

Returning Member

Liam is a passionate equitable housing advocate with a diverse background in the affordable housing and homelessness field, including direct service in supportive housing, system leadership within a Continuum of Care, and state-level affordable housing program administration.

Liam is driven to help create equitable, informed and intentional community development solutions and to work to ensure that developing community responses to homelessness are trauma informed. He has a diverse set of professional certifications related to housing and affordability, is a certified Trauma Informed Care Instructor, and holds a master’s degree in health management and policy. He is also the co-founder of the Lean In Project, a nonprofit that helps provide resources for persons in the LGBTQIA+ community.

Stephen Wilson

Returning Member

Stephen has served on the leadership team since 2020. He was born in Oxford, England, and spent the first 12 years of his life moving alternately between the United States and England.

His two sides of the family originated around VA/NC (Father) and Oxford, England (Mother). The family settled in Mecklenburg County upon his Father’s retirement from the Air Force.

Upon graduation from Bluestone Sr. High (yes, it was a Sr. High back then), Stephen attended the Virginia Military Institute for 2 years and then moved to Richmond, Virginia.  There he pursued studies of the Culinary Arts and Accounting.  What followed was a 40-year career in the Restaurant business in varied concerns with titles ranging from General Manager, District Supervisor, and Executive Chef.  In 2016 Stephen retired his chef coat to pursue an education in Psychology and Substance Misuse Counseling and continues these pursuits today.

Stephen is a proud and active member of our local Recovery community which led to his interest in joining the Southside Wellness Coalition in 2018. 

Stephen has attended many functions on behalf of the SWC including the CADCA National Forum, numerous CCoVA meetings and forums and attended 2 CADCA mini-camps.  He has been REVIVE! trained and is a certified ACES Presenter. Stephen also participated in our area’s Needs Assessment Surveys hosted by Virginia Tech and is currently assisting with starting up a local Trauma Informed Community Network (TICN).

Finally, Stephen currently resides in Chase City, is the proud parent of 1 son and daughter-in-law, and an even prouder grandfather of 2 beautiful granddaughters.  Stephen is excited to remain part of the Southside Wellness Coalition and is looking forward to growing along with it.

Kenan Tyner-Smith

Returning for Fiscal Agent

Kenan was born in Alexandria, VA, and raised in the Northern Virginia suburbs.  She attended George Mason University where she earned both a BA in English and a master’s in Education: Curriculum and Instruction.  For the next 8 years, she worked as a high school English teacher for Fairfax County Public Schools. In 2004, Kenan moved to Southside and worked as a high school English teacher for both Mecklenburg and Halifax County Public Schools.

Since 2018, Kenan has been the Prevention Manager at Southside Behavioral Health. This position allows her to utilize her communication skills in new and challenging ways while addresses tobacco retailer education, suicide prevention and substance use education in our local communities.

Kenan is a certified Youth and Adult Mental Health First Aid trainer, SafeTALK Trainer, REVIVE! Opioid Overdose and Naloxone Education for VA Trainer and an ACE Interface Master Trainer and serves as the fiscal agent for the Southside Wellness Coalition.

Kenan currently lives in Clarksville with her husband Michael.   Kenan is proud to be a part of the Southside Wellness Coalition and looks forward to its continued growth and development.