In celebration of National Prevention Week 2020, we wanted to take this opportunity to introduce you to the staff at NRVCS who are responsible for the prevention-related programs and activities in our communities.
These dedicated professionals make up the agency’s Community Wellness & Outreach team. While their backgrounds and experiences vary, they share a passion for improving the behavioral health of the New River Valley through education and awareness of issues related to mental health and substance use disorders.
Leslie Beasley, a Behavioral Health Wellness Specialist, has worked at NRVCS for 12 years. She currently helps coordinate the Building Strong Families program and administers the “Too Good For Drugs” curriculum in schools throughout the New River Valley.
A former school teacher, Leslie and her husband, David, have two grown children: a son, Mike, and daughter, Sam. Leslie describes herself as a “lover of all things furry,” including her horses. In her spare time, she enjoys playing tennis and spending time in the outdoors. A huge Disney fan, Leslie’s favorite Disney film is the original animated classic, “Beauty and the Beast.”
Nick Bilbro, a Community Public Health Educator, holds a Master’s degree in Public Health and a Bachelor’s degree in Health and Exercise Science. He is also a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) and has worked in prevention in some capacity for the past eight years.
“I work with each of our prevention coalitions throughout the NRV and advocate for both substance misuse and mental health stigma reduction. Being a Master Trainer for REVIVE! I also help provide these trainings throughout the NRV. There are also many program I work on such as the ‘Next Chapters’ reading program at the NRV Regional Jail in Dublin. Another common task of mine is to present and educate different organizations about substance misuse and harm reduction strategies.”
Fitness has been a huge passion and hobby of Nick’s for over 10 years and he works out every day of the week. If he’s not working (or working out), Nick can usually be found spending time with his dog, Jojo, who he adopted in August of 2019.
René Cox, a Behavioral Health Wellness Specialist, has worked at NRVCS for 12 years. She also works in various school systems, teaching evidence-based substance abuse prevention and bullying prevention programs.
During this time of social distancing and working from home, René has learned how to attend virtual meetings. She was also able to recently participate in the 2020 “Rev Your Bev” campaign in Montgomery County by using appropriate social distancing practices.
René has three grown children and this summer she will become a first-time Grandmother. Baby boy Cox will arrive July 3!
Dee Frith, a Behavioral Health Wellness Specialist,has been facilitating prevention programs for NRVCS since 2001.
“I have had the opportunity to work with parents and families and, more recently, teach drug prevention programs in both middle and high schools,” Dee says. “During this unusual time, I’ve been trying to adjust to our new ‘normal,’ as so many are. I’m really impressed at how quickly so many have been able to adapt to all of the creative and diverse ways of online learning.”
Dee and her husband, Eric, have three sons, two of which still live at home, along with two dogs and two cats.
“When I feel like my brain needs a break from technology, I enjoy cooking and any home improvement projects – especially gardening when I can convince my sons to help – and long walks,” she says. “Any excuse to be outside in the fresh air. Stay safe and connected!”
Kathy Kenley is a 32-year veteran of NRVCS. She is the supervisor for Community Wellness and Outreach and has been a Certified Prevention Specialist since 1996. As a social worker, Kathy started her career in health care, then spent a few years with the Department of Social Services as a Child Protective Services investigator and caseworker. In that role, she learned about NRVCS and eventually accepted a position as a prevention specialist in 1988. The rest is history!
In her free time, Kathy enjoys vacations, crafting, concerts/shows, puzzles, reading, singing in her church choir and spending time with her large, extended family and friends. She and her husband, Mike, have two grown children, Paige and Drew (married to Laken), a kitty named Ruby and several grand-pets.
Caroline Mullins, a Behavioral Health Wellness Specialist, has been with the agency since November of 2018. Prior to that, she owned and ran an art instruction studio. She also has 18 years of experience in early childhood education and school-age care.
“I am married to an Army veteran and we have two children who usually keep us busy with their sports,” says Caroline. “We have all tried to take this ‘break’ as an opportunity to lose some bad habits and create new and healthy habits. In addition to all of the home projects and creative outlets, our favorite pastime so far is enjoying evening campfires, complete with marshmallows and music. Our two dogs are pretty content with the change as well with daily walks and runs.”
Jenelle Robinson grew up in Blacksburg, but lived in Charlotte, North Carolina for almost 10 years. She has been with NRVCS for about a year and a half as a Behavioral Health Wellness Specialist.
Jenelle’s primary area of focus is Radford City, where she teaches prevention classes at Radford High School and Dalton Intermediate. She is also actively involved with other youth-focused activities at the Radford Library. She has two enormous Maine Coon cats that she says act very much like dogs. In her spare time, Jenelle enjoys playing basketball, crafting, and re-living her prior days as a probation officer by binge watching Cops (and, of course, “The Office.”)
Mike Wade has been with NRVCS since April 2000 and currently serves as Coordinator of Community Wellness and Outreach. The majority of his time with the agency has been devoted to public relations and marketing, but over the past year, he has blended those efforts with prevention work to generate greater awareness and education about population health issues impacting behavioral health wellness.
Mike and his wife, Brennen, have two children: Olivia, a rising senior at James Madison University, and Isaac, who will soon graduate from Christiansburg High School. In his spare time, Mike enjoys playing guitar and singing, drawing, kayaking and hiking. He also admits to being a Batman and Star Wars “geek.”