Dr Steven Corder Elected to WV First Foundation Board for Region 1
Attorney General Morrisey joined leaders from the Northern Panhandle as they elected a representative to serve with organization dispersing opioid money.
Thursday evening saw representatives from municipalities in Hancock, Brooke, Ohio, Marshall, and Wetzel Counties gather in Wheeling. The meeting was held to elect the Region 1 representative on the Board of Directors for the West Virginia First Foundation. Ohio County Commissioner Zach Abraham presided over the meeting.
Region 1 was the last in the state to elect their representative.
The WV First Foundation is a private organization authorized by the West Virginia Legislature during their 2023 Regular Session (SB 674) and signed by Governor Jim Justice. The foundation will be in charge of disbursing opioid settlement money, totaling over $1 billion.
The State of West Virginia was separated into six regions, each electing a member to the Board of Directors. Gov Justice will nominate five members, no more than one from each region, to be confirmed by the West Virginia Senate. Justice has stated he will announce these nominations “soon.”
With Region 1 electing their Board member, the six elected members of the West Virginia First Foundation Board of Directors are,
Region 1: Dr Steven Corder, Medical Director for Northwood Health Systems
Region 2: Timothy Czaja, Community Corrections Director
Region 3: Tom Joyce, Mayor of Parkersburg
Region 4: Jonathan Board, Fairmont, Mon Health executive
Region 5: Dr Matthew Christiansen, State Health Officer and Commissioner of DHHR’s Bureau for Public Health
Region 6: Dr. Micheal “Tony” Kelly, Welch physician
The election of Dr Corder means there are three licensed physicians on the WV First Foundation Board of Directors, including Dr Christiansen of Region 5 and Dr Kelly of Region 6.
The next steps will see Gov Justice make his nominations. While we do not know when the nominations will be announced, Morrisey suggested it could coincide with the next West Virginia Legislature Interim Sessions on August 6-8.
Per the Memorandum of Understanding, which is an agreement between all 55 counties and the Attorney General of West Virginia’s Office, members elected to the Board of Directors should, “have expertise in a variety of disciplines, such as substance abuse treatment, mental health, law enforcement, pharmacology, finance, and healthcare policy and management.”
Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, who has attended five of the six meetings statewide, advised Regions not to select elected representatives to the Board of Directors. Morrisey stated this was in an attempt to keep politics out of the process.
Attorney General Morrisey spoke with The Hudson Editorial after the meeting.
Despite his recommendation, Region 3 elected Tom Joyce, Mayor of Parkersburg, as their Board of Directors representative. AG Morrisey said he wouldn’t critique the decision, and that he has nothing but positive things to say about the regions. “I have a lot of respect for the Mayor.”
“I’ve always thought it would be beneficial to get the right composition of the Board with different areas of expertise,” AG Morrisey said. “ My goal has always been to depoliticize the process and make the decisions based on data.”
Speaking about the election process, AG Morrisey said he believed it went well. “They were open to the public. They were transparent.” He said the goal of these meetings was to get information to the public about what the WV First Foundation Board of Directors’s job would be.
“When you’re talking about the amount of dollars that are available here, you want to make sure there’s transparency,” Morrisey said.
Region 1 nominees were uniquely qualified for the position on the Board of Directors.
Dara Pond, Director of Prevention Services at Youth Services Systems, has experience throughout the Northern Panhandle advising organizations and governments about addiction.
Mark Phillips, President and CEO of Catholic Charities, laid out a five point plan for using the money including 1) prevention and education, 2) treatment and recovery, 3) addressing co-occurring disorders, 4) aftercare and peer support, and 5) support for families and children.
Ultimately, Dr Steven Corder, Medical Director for Northwood Health Systems, was elected. Corder is a licensed physician and psychologist.
Corder spoke with The Hudson Editorial after the meeting.
“The vast majority of my time [at Northwood Health Systems] is direct patient care,” Corder said. “I see, on a weekly basis, hundreds of people recovering from, suffering from, addictions, opioid dependence.”
He is a fellow of the Society of Addiction Medicine, and says he can bring thought leaders from around the country into the conversation. “You hear what people have to say about things they’ve been trying, things that work, maybe things that don’t work,” Corder said of his involvement with national mental health and addiction related organizations.
Speaking about being nominated and elected by his peers in the Northern Panhandle, Corder said he was “honored and humbled.” He added, “I do feel like I’m qualified and hope I can be an asset and help move this process forward.
This is not the end of the process, though. As mentioned, Gov Justice still needs to nominate, and have approved, five nominees to the West Virginia First Foundation Board of Directors. The Board will then meet and choose an Executive Director.
The Attorney General’s Office has hired a firm to begin the search for potential candidates for the Executive Director position.
In addition to the Board members, an expert panel from the regions will be constituted and recommend to the West Virginia First Foundation what decisions they should make. AG Morrisey said local representatives should start that conversation as soon as possible.
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