SPEAKER BIOS

Deborah H. Bell

Deborah H. Bell joined the Office of the Attorney General in 2014 as the Roanoke-based Community Outreach Coordinator.  Her region covers 21 counties in the Commonwealth, and she serves as a member of various associations, such as the Drug Abuse Prevention Task Force, Virginia Coalition for the Prevention of Elder Abuse, FBI Intelligence Sharing group, and the Roanoke Valley Violence Prevention Council.  Debbie is a state-certified Crime Prevention Specialist, and serves as the president of the Southwest Region Crime Prevention Association.  She has been recognized for her outstanding work as a managing panel member of the United States Department of Justice Anti-Terrorism Advisory Council for the Western District of Virginia.   

Specializing in the field of Communication Studies, Debbie received her first Bachelor’s degree from Radford University, and a second from Virginia Tech.  At the Office of the Attorney General, Debbie serves to provide education and link agencies and individuals with the appropriate resources specific to the office.  Such matters may include: Medicaid provider fraud, elder abuse and neglect, opiate and heroin abuse issues, gang activity awareness, human sex and labor trafficking awareness, cultural competency educations, forming and providing support for TRIAD groups, social media dangers and computer crimes, domestic violence issues, animal cruelty concerns, and consumer protection.

 

Nancy Boyd

Nancy Boyd serves as Kinship Navigator for the Dickenson County program which in addition to Dickenson serves the counties of Lee, Scott, Wise, Russell, Tazewell, Buchanan and the city of Norton.

Nancy has a BSN from Virginia Commonwealth University School of Nursing and worked in Community Health Services in City of Richmond, Chesterfield, New Kent, and Charles City, Hanover in a variety of programs with families and children of all ages.  She also served as Assistant Director at Beth Shalom Nursing Home and opened the Home Health Unit at Retreat Hospital providing hospice care to the tri-city area.

Before her retirement in 2013, she served as the Coordinator of The Healthy Families program in Chesterfield for eight years. After retirement she moved back to her hometown in Dickenson County.

In 2019 she began work at Dickenson County Social Services in the Kinship Navigator program.  This is an especially good fit for her since she herself is a kinship caregiver who has cared for her grandson for the past ten years and can easily identify with this population.

 

Alexis Calleros

Alexis Calleros was initially brought on board as a volunteer at the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) after obtaining her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology with an emphasis on social inequality at the University of California, Santa Cruz. As the current NCEA Administrative Assistant, she provides logistical and administrative support for various projects in addition to meetings and conferences. Currently, Alexis is assisting the Elder Abuse Guide for Law Enforcement (EAGLE) in producing training materials for law enforcement.

 

Melissa Ratcliff Harper, MSN, APRN, SANE-A, SANE-P

Melissa Ratcliff Harper has been a Registered Nurse since 1990, working as both an emergency and forensic nurse. After working 30+ years as a healthcare provider within the hospital sector, she is now employed in a clinic setting as a Forensic Nurse with both Ultra Health and the SAFE Center of SWVA. She previously served as faculty for the nursing and paramedic programs at the Jefferson College of Health Sciences. She is a Visiting Professor at St. George’s University in Grenada. She holds an MSN degree with an advanced practice Clinical Nurse Specialist focus in forensic nursing from the University of Colorado. She is certified as both a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner-Adult/ Adolescent (SANE-A) and Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner-Pediatric (SANE-P). Melissa has led or served on numerous task forces and advisory boards and is currently a member of the Commonwealth of Virginia Attorney General’s Sexual Assault Kit Initiative Steering Committee and the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services SART Advisory Council. She has presented greater than 300 lectures/courses on a variety of forensic-related topics, including intimate partner violence, strangulation, sexual assault, child abuse, elder abuse, human trafficking and adult SANE and pediatric SANE courses at the local, state, national and international level. She received the 2017 Virginia Attorney General’s Unsung Heroes award for her work as a forensic nurse and community leader.

 

DeMarion Johnston, Esq.

DeMarion Johnston is currently the General Counsel of the Virginia Bankers Association where she provides legal representation to the Association and its subsidiaries. Prior to joining the VBA, she served as Associate General Counsel in the Office of General Counsel of the Virginia State Corporation Commission advising and representing the Commission and its divisions, primarily the Bureau of Financial Institutions and Bureau of Insurance. She has also worked for a federal banking regulator and in the private practice of law. DeMarion possesses expertise in banking, non-depository financial institutions and services, and insurance, as well as state and federal regulation of those industries.

 

Sarah M. Morton, Esq.
Sarah M. Morton is an elderly services attorney in the Harrisonburg office of Blue Ridge Legal Services.  Sarah received her B.A. in Government and Psychology from the University of Virginia in 2003. Sarah is a 2006 graduate of the University of Notre Dame Law School.  While in law school, Sarah studied the restorative justice systems used in international truth commissions, as well as the traditional restorative justice practices of Native American tribes and the Canadian equivalent, First Nations.  She completed mediator training at the Center for Community Justice in Elkhart, Indiana. Her mediation training is in the Victim-Offender Reconciliation Process (VORP) method.  

Sarah joined Blue Ridge Legal Services as a staff attorney in October of 2006.  Blue Ridge Legal Services is the legal aid office serving the Shenandoah Valley.  She has a varied practice serving those 60 years old and older.  Approximately 60% of her clients are survivors of elder abuse and financial exploitation.  Sarah has been exploring civil remedies and recovery for survivors of elder financial exploitation.

 

Janine M. Myatt, Esq.
Janine Myatt is an Assistant Attorney General/Prosecutor for the Virginia Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, and is also a Special Assistant Attorney United States Attorney in the Western District of Virginia. She has held this position since 2010, and has prosecuted Medicaid provider fraud and elder abuse cases.  Prior to joining the Attorney General’s Office, she worked as a prosecutor in Bristol, Virginia, Washington County, Virginia and Sullivan County, Tennessee.  She started her legal career as a staff attorney for Southwest Virginia Legal Aid Society from 1994-1997.

 

Charles L. Parsons
First Sergeant Charles L. Parsons is a drug unit supervisor for the Virginia State Police (VSP) and has worked in law enforcement for 25 years. He has been directly involved in the investigation, seizure, and processing of over 500 meth labs in the last 18 years. He is the former head of VSP’s Clandestine Lab Response Program and co-authored the agency’s policy manual for handling clan lab incidents. Additionally, he assisted in the development of the meth lab Best Practices Protocols that were approved by the General Assembly in 2005, which detail policies and procedures for police and law enforcement agencies throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Sergeant Parsons has presented Meth and Drug Awareness training programs to hundreds of first responders across the Commonwealth. In his previous position as a Special Agent, he led a multi-agency drug taskforce and coordinated the operational planning of enforcement actions with various Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. 

Sergeant Parsons holds a B.S. degree in Criminal Justice from Radford University and is a graduate of the Virginia State Police Academy. He is a DCJS certified general instructor and regularly provides law enforcement training at local criminal justice academies and the Virginia State Police Academy.  He also provides expert testimony and consultation for prosecutors throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia for Methamphetamine and other drug related prosecutions.

 

Amanda Romans

Amanda Romans serves as Kinship Navigator for the Smyth County (VA) Department of Social Services. Her service area includes not only Smyth County, but also Bland, Carroll, Giles, Grayson, Montgomery, Pulaski, Washington, and Wythe Counties, as well as the cities of Bristol, Galax, and Radford. Amanda is a graduate of Old Dominion University with over 15 years of experience working with families in crisis. She began her career in homeless services and supportive housing. Prior to beginning her work with Kinship families, Amanda served as a CPS investigator in Smyth County.

 

Julie Schoen, JD

Julie Schoen, JD brings her passion for all aspects of aging issues to her role as Deputy Director of the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) at the Keck School of Medicine at USC. She is an attorney with a strong background in Medicare Advocacy who is now having impact in the area of Elder Abuse. Like you, she hopes to build public awareness by collaborating with experts in the field. She is an active board member for the Organization of Victim Assistance (NOVA) and the GSA’s Reframing Aging Advisory Board. Before joining the NCEA team at USC, Julie devoted the first 20 years of her career as the director of the Health Insurance Counseling Advocacy Program and the CA Senior Medicare Patrol. Julie is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin Madison and has lived in Orange County for the past 30 years with her husband Jim and daughter Emily.

 

Kimberly Snow

Kimberly Snow is a Research Associate in the Disability and Aging program area at the Cutler Institute, Muskie School of Public Service, University of Southern Maine. Ms. Snow’s primary interests are in elder abuse and Medicaid policy and operations, especially related to utilization and cost of care. She recently collaborated on a published research study linking Medicaid, Medicare, and Maine APS data to determine the health care services use and cost among victims of elder financial exploitation. Most recently she was the principal investigator on a study of the impact of the opioid crisis on Maine APS investigations. Ms. Snow has a Master’s degree in Health Services Administration from the University of Michigan School of Public Health and a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and English from Oberlin College. Prior to joining the Muskie School, Ms. Snow worked at the National Academy for State Health Policy.

 

Gerard Wallace, Esq.

Gerard Wallace, Esq. is Public Service Professor, at the State University at Albany, School of Social Welfare and the legal/education advisor for the NYS Kinship Navigator.  In 2006, he founded the NYS Kinship Navigator and was Director from 2006-2020.  He retired in December 2020. From 2005 to 2010 he was project consultant for the AARP Kincare Project and from 2005 to 2014 he was co-chair of the NYS KinCare Coalition.  He is a member of the Child Welfare League of America’s Policy Commission and past director of Hunter College’s Grandparent Caregiver Law Center and of the National Committee of Grandparents for Children’s Rights. He is a senior fellow at the Child Welfare League of America. Since 1997, he has published numerous articles and white papers on kinship law and policy. In 1999, he authored an amicus curia brief in the United States Supreme Court grandparent visitation case, Troxel v. Granville, that was featured in the Congressional Digest’s Supreme Court Debate. His writings have been published in Elder Law Attorney, the Journal of Gerontological Social Work, West Law’s Elder Adviser, and the Washington Post, among others. Since 2000, he has presented continuing legal education trainings on kinship law and advised on the drafting of both federal and state legislation related to kinship care. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from Albany Law School in 1997.

 

Lauren Weidner

Lauren Weidner joined the Family First Team in January 2020 and serves as the Change Management Specialist. She has over 12 years experience in the child welfare system. Her experience includes working in both the private and public settings, working with youth in foster care, training families who would like to foster, working with adult adoptees and has served on several community work groups. Lauren has received both her Bachelors and Masters degree in Social Work from Virginia Commonwealth University and is excited to participate in macro level social work assisting with the implementation of Family First.