The Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence is pleased to present our board of directors for the 2013-2014 service term. This board has a complimentary set of skills, education, and experience to propel GCADV to a greater place of strength, understanding and accountability.
Amy Weaver, Board President
Amy is the Executive Director of Rome’s domestic violence shelter program and has worked with the agency since 2000. Prior to her work with Hospitality House, she spent time as an intensive case manager for adults with mental illness in Indiana and Vermont. She also worked as a family advocate for a non-profit child advocacy center in Rome. Ms. Weaver served on the Board of Directors for Big Brothers/Big Sisters in Northwest Georgia. For more than 15 years, the focus of her work has been victim advocacy. Ms. Weaver believes in working from a consensus model, respecting all voices and allowing all involved to communicate openly in order to provide the best possible support for those we serve. She looks forward serving on GCADV’s Board of Directors to further the mission of our work and to unify our collective voice for victims of violence in Georgia.
Dr. Mesha Ellis, Vice-President
Dr. Mesha Ellis is a licensed psychologist who specializes in providing psychological assessment, testing, and forensic evaluation services for children, adolescents, adults, and families. She has over 10 years of assessment and treatment experience. In addition to providing evaluation and treatment services, Dr. Ellis also conducts intervention research. She has co-authored several peer-reviewed publications as well as presented at professional conferences. She is licensed to practice as a psychologist in Georgia, Tennessee and California. Dr. Ellis is dedicated to reducing the effects of trauma on adults and children. She is the founder of Ellis Evaluation and Consulting Services, a psychological practice dedicated to assisting youth and adults maintain optimal health through the provision of evaluations designed to increase understanding of emotional and behavioral issues. Dr. Ellis has volunteered at Domestic Violence shelters and was previously on faculty at Pepperdine University. Currently she serves as a faculty member of Morehouse School of Medicine, Department of Community Health and Preventative Medicine. Dr. Ellis looks forward to creating opportunities with GCADV to develop and implement public health initiatives and supporting survivors of domestic violence.
Linda Schaeffer, Board Treasurer
With over 25 year of experience, Linda Schaeffer is a Partner and Director of Litigation Consulting Services with Frazier & Deeter and works primarily with high net-worth individuals and corporate executives with divorce, tax and accounting issues. She assists with the division of financial and real estate assets through mediation, and work with family practice attorneys through all financial aspects of divorce or child support matters. During her career, Linda was the expert on the winning side of two landmark New Jersey Supreme Court Cases, Crews v. Crews and Steneken v. Steneken.
Prior to Joining Fazier & Detter, Linda serves as a Partner and Director Marital Dissolution Consulting Services for WithumSmith + Brown in New Jersey . Her prior experience also includes working with firms such as Deloitte, Haskins & Sells (Deloitte Touche), Laventhol & Horwath, and RD Hunter & Company. Linda graduated as the first female accounting graduate from Seton Hall University, and worked as a field agent for the Internal Revenue Service before entering Public Accounting.
Linda was featured in the Journal of Accountancy discussing the importance of a neutral CPA in divorce cases. She is also a frequent speaker at various meetings, conferences and seminars, including expert guest appearance on Good Morning America, CTN, and several radio stations in Central Jersey, Philadelphia and Atlanta.
Beth Peters, Board Secretary
Beth serves as the Outreach Coordinator for the Northwest Georgia Family Crisis Center in Dalton. For over 11 years she has been working with survivors in the North Georgia area. Beth is a graduate of University of West Georgia. In the past, she has served as Co-Chair of the Cherokee Circuit Domestic Violence Task Force, Co-chair of the Lookout Mountain Circuit Domestic Violence Task Force, and Chair of the Gordon County Family Connection Board of Directors. She has also served as a member of the Georgia Bar Association 7thDistrict Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee. Beth believes that a coordinated community response is essential in providing comprehensive services which have an empowering impact on survivors and their families.
Adrienne D. Sims is currently Staff Vice-President, Performance Solutions for WellPoint (which includes Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia) where she has responsibility for Sales, Clinical, Operations, Medicaid, Medicare and the ESS learning organizations. In this role, she provides leadership and strategic oversight for 350+ learning professionals who provide learning and development support to more than 37,000 associates across the United States as well as vendor partners in India and the Philippines. Adrienne was instrumental in developing the strategy to integrate each of the learning & development functions across the enterprise. She is also committed to ensuring that her learning organization is perceived to be a valued business partner and critical to the successful achievement of business goals.
Prior to joining WellPoint, Inc., Adrienne held the position of Director of Organization Development for Roche Diagnostics in Indianapolis, IN. In this role, Adrienne was responsible for providing the following strategic HR support: talent management, leadership development, performance management, and organization development. Adrienne also held similar roles at Bristol-Myers Squibb, Novartis Pharmaceuticals and Prudential Insurance. Additionally, Adrienne has extensive consulting experience in the areas of organizational development, executive development, talent management, executive coaching, performance management, and strategic diversity. She has also provided support to such organizations as Wharton School of Business, Booz & Co, ARAMARK and Catalyst.
Adrienne holds a Doctorate and Master of Science degrees in Organizational Psychology from Rutgers University and received her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology (magna cum laude) from Texas Woman’s University. She is also certified in executive coaching by Columbia University.
Aparna Bhattacharyya was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. She has served as Executive Director of Raksha since 1998. Aparna graduated from Georgia State University with a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice. She has volunteered and worked as a Victim Advocate for 5 years for the city of Atlanta's Victim Witness Assistance Program (VWAP). She also worked as a Project coordinator/Employment Specialist for the Newcomers' Network's Refugee Family Violence Prevention Project (where she developed and implemented the License to Freedom Project). Prior to becoming an employee of Raksha Inc., she also volunteered and served as a steering committee member of Raksha Inc., since its inception in 1995. As a representative of Raksha, she has served as founding Task Force member and Board Secretary for International Women's House and a founding member of Tapestri, the Immigrant and Refugee Coalition challenging gender based oppression. She has served as a member of the Georgia Advisory Committee for the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, board Vice President for Tapestri, Inc, an Advisory Board member for the National Network to End Violence Against Immigrant Women and Advisory Board Member for Georgia State's School of Social Work. She is currently a board member for the DeKalb County Domestic Violence Task Force and part of Class of 2010 of Leadership Atlanta. She was awarded with the Indian Professionals Network (IPN) award in 1997 and 1998 for her service to the community. Ms. Bhattacharyya was awarded the Director's Eagle Award from the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council in 2006, the Georgia Commission on Family Violence Gender Justice Award, and the DeKalb County Domestic Violence Task Force’s Deborah C. McDorman Award in 2008. Aparna is an alumna of Leadership Atlanta's Class of 2010, and a 2009 recipient of the Center for Pan Asian Community Service's Asian Women's Leadership Development Grant. Aparna was recently recognized by the Indian American Cultural Association for Excellent and Continued Contribution to the Community.
Carole Angel, Esq.
Carole Angel is Director of Legislative Analysis and Strategic Regulatory Counsel at McKesson Corporation, a Fortune 14 Company. In this role, Carole analyzes emerging legal and governmental trends and predicts their impact on the health care industry to seize business opportunities and proactively mitigate legal risk. Throughout her career in law and public policy, Carole has distinguished herself as a strategic leader and a trusted advisor to policymakers and executives alike.
Before joining McKesson, Carole worked in Washington, D.C., as Counsel on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee where she advised U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein on immigration and constitutional law as well as the intersecting issues of criminal justice, healthcare, civil rights, privacy, national security, and economic reform. Carole previously served as Legislative Counsel to U.S. Representative Jerrold Nadler (NY-8) during his chairmanship of the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. As a staff attorney at Legal Momentum (formerly NOW Legal Defense Fund), Carole served as the point person for the National Network to End Violence Against Immigrant Women and drafted provisions passed in the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, expanding protections for immigrant victims of domestic violence, trafficking, and sexual assault.
Carole is an active member of her local and global community. Carole has spoken and published extensively on a range of public policy and legal topics and was recognized in the American Bar Association Journal’s “The DC Power Web.” She is a graduate of Leadership Atlanta, Class of 2012, and volunteers with Jewish Family & Career Services, where she supports refugee families in their transition to Atlanta. Carole also volunteered in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, as part of earthquake rebuilding efforts.
Carole is admitted to practice law in Maryland and the District of Columbia. She is a member of the American Bar Association, American Health Lawyers Association, and the Academy of Health. Carole earned her Juris Doctorate from the University of Maryland School of Law, and her bachelor’s degree in Government and Politics from the University of Maryland. She resides in Brookhaven with her husband and daughter.
Carrie holds a Masters in Marketing from Western Carolina University and is currently the Marketing Manager at McKesson where she is responsible for strategy , development and implementation for online and offline marketing campaigns for healthcare, social media management of all channels including campaign strategy and daily management of blog, along with other duties and responsibilities. Prior to her work at McKesson, Carrie was Marketing Manager at the American Red Cross.
Carrie’s passion for helping to end domestic violence is evidenced through her volunteer experience at both Ahimsa House, Community Welcome House and PADV. At these three domestic violence organizations, Carrie has coordinated fundraising and educational events, served as marking consultant, provided direct service via the hotline and shelter and participated in training.
DeAlvah Hill Simms
Dee Simms is an attorney with twenty-five years of experience and currently serves as the Executive Director of Crisis Line & Safe House of Central Georgia where she has worked since 2008. The mission of Crisis Line & Safe House is to provide community crisis intervention as well as, safe shelter, comprehensive support and recovery services for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence, and to educate the community about the cycle of violence and its prevention.
Ms. Simms was Georgia’s first Child Advocate for the Protection of Children. She taught middle and high school prior to attending law school. As an Assistant District Attorney in the Macon Judicial Circuit, she prosecuted crimes against children until 1997 when she left the DA’s office to become the Director of Crescent House, a children’s advocacy center. In 2000 Ms. Simms returned to prosecution in the Towaliga Judicial Circuit where she was working when appointed by Governor Roy Barnes as Georgia's first Child Advocate. Governor Sonny Perdue appointed Ms. Simms to a second term as Child Advocate in January of 2004. She is a member of the Board of Advisors for Georgia Appleseed and a member of the American Bar Association, the Georgia Bar Association and the Macon Bar Association. She and her husband, Howard, have two children Grace (20) and Zack (15).
Heidi Day is the Founder and Executive Director of Chayil Inc. Chayil Inc.,(pronounced Ky-eel) is a non-profit organization that helps domestic violence victims THRIVE. This program utilizes an innovative Life Coaching model, the Chayil Personal Development curriculum to bring beauty and peace from the ashes of the victims lives. It is Heidi’s desire that this ground-breaking intervention will change the face of domestic violence intervention and provide a conduit of healing for victims of domestic violence and concerned women within the community. Chayil was born from Heidi’s burning desire to truly change lives. Heidi is no stranger to life’s hardships. The suffering of women, including Heidi’s own pain is the motivating force behind her life. Heidi attended Oakwood University, earning a B.S. degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology and went on to pursue Life Coaching training from the Graduate School of Coaching. Heidi has spoken and conducted workshops all over the country on domestic violence, self esteem and creating and living your “Divine Ideal.” From a child she knew she wanted to help others and always had a passion for helping her “sisters.” After working in various areas of Behavioral Health she went on to pursue experience in corporate America in professional sales. The spirit of volunteerism has been a part of Heidi’s fabric from her earliest years. From that time to the present she has volunteered in various women agencies and shelters. It was in surrendering her all to God that Heidi discovered her “Divine Ideal.” It is in reaching out that she is fulfilled within. Heidi now pursues healing, her own and that of her sisters with an insatiable passion because she has discovered that this is not simply her life journey but her life calling. Heidi is the Past Vice President of The Dogwood Festival Board and the past Advisory Board Member of Visions Anew.
Katie Bates is an associate in the Atlanta office of King & Spalding and is a member of the Intellectual Property Practice Group. Ms. Bates’ practice includes copyright, trademark, and patent prosecution, as well as litigation in all of those areas and with regard to general business litigation matters. Ms. Bates has participated in litigation at both the state and federal level, and has served as federal appellate counsel. Prior to receiving her J.D., Ms. Bates was a Performance Audit Supervisor for the State of Georgia, evaluating and advising the State of Georgia and its citizens on the efficiency and effectiveness of their programs. In this capacity, Ms. Bates also provided compliance review and developed extensive skill in designing analytical methodologies and in investigative work involving highly confidential information. Ms. Bates received her Bachelor of Science degree in Cell and Molecular Biology and Political Science, magna cum laude, with honors, from Tulane University where, in addition to other honors, she was elected to the Mortar Board and Omicron Delta Kappa honor societies. She received her J.D., magna cum laude, from the University Of Georgia School Of Law and was selected to the Order of the Coif and as a member of the University’s Blue Key Honor Society. While in law school, Ms. Bates served as Editor in Chief of the Georgia Law Review. Ms. Bates is admitted to practice before the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, and Georgia state courts. She is a member of the State Bar of Georgia, American Bar Association, Atlanta Bar Association, American Intellectual Property Law Association, and the Georgia Association of Women Lawyers.
Michelle Toledo Cainas earned her bachelor's of science degree in criminal justice from Florida Metropolitan University; her Master's in Forensic Psychology from Argosy University; and has begun Capella University to pursue her PhD in Public Safety Leadership in Criminal Justice.
Michelle is the founder of Georgia Latinos Against Domestic Violence (GLADV). She originally formed the program as a task force with the support of her previous employer, Partnership Against Domestic Violence, in order to establish a better network of advocates who work with the Latin community. With time the task force also became a place for education and collaboration opportunity in the community. In the Summer of 2012, GLADV joined Renovacion Conyugal as one of their programs.
Although, Michelle herself is not a survivor of domestic violence, she strongly believes everyone deserves to have a healthy relationship with their family and intimate partner. Therefore, Michelle believes it is essential to bring education and awareness to the community. Michelle has over 100 hours combined of presentations and training in the subject matter and sees her greatest accomplishments can be seen through the efforts of GLADV throughout the community.
Michele W. Johnson
Michele W. Johnson is a partner of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP who practices in Atlanta in the areas of labor and employment law, business litigation, and appellate work. She represents management in lawsuits and administrative proceedings arising out of all aspects of the employment relationship, including race, sex, age, disability, and other discrimination claims; whistleblower suits; enforcement of non-compete, non-solicitation, trade secret, and confidentiality covenants; wage and hour disputes; and other matters. Ms. Johnson routinely counsels employers in connection with hiring, discipline, terminations, wage payment practices, the preparation of executive employment agreements, employee training, the drafting and review of personnel policies, compliance with state and federal recordkeeping and reporting requirements, and strategies for the prevention of employee lawsuits. She also assists businesses with employment issues arising out of mergers and acquisitions, stock and asset purchase agreements, and other corporate transactions.
Nancy is the Executive Director of Ruth’s Cottage and The Patticake House. Prior to coming to Ruth’s Cottage and The Patticake House, Nancy was the CEO of of Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Georgia, Inc. for 25 years. She sites on the Board of Directors of the United Way of South Central Georgia, the Tifton Exchange Club and is a member of the South Central Georgia Coalition to End Homelessness. Nancy is a member of St. Anne’s Episcopal Church where she serves on the Finance Committee and sings in the adult choir; former Vestry Member, SS Teacher and VBS Co-Chair. She also serves as a current member on the Diocesan Council of the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia. Nancy is a native of Albany, Georgia and graduated Cum Laude from the University of Georgia. She is married and the mother of three sons. When not at work or church….enjoys reading, gardening, cooking, researching on Ancestry.com, and CrossFit.
Roderick Cunningham is the Founder and CEO of the Beverly Cunningham
Outreach Program (BCOP). The Beverly Cunningham Outreach Program was
founded in 2010 after Roderick’s mother Beverly Cunningham Brown was
shot point blank in the head by her husband October 27, 2009. Domestic
Violence has had a strong whole on Roderick’s family dating back to his
grandmother being shot at by her husband. Roderick has turned his pain into
positive action by helping other victims, survivors and our youth to once again
embrace a normalcy of life through the Beverly Cunningham Outreach
Program and its partners. The mission of the Beverly Cunningham Outreach
Program is to provide individual and group counseling, advocacy and
rehabilitation services to survivors of domestic violence. The foundation also
seeks to be an outlet for community youth who are at risk of becoming victims of violence, substance abuse or
who are impacted by health issues. The program has helped over 320 children and 300 women through it
domestic violence awareness program, financial literacy program and community outreach from 2010-2013.
Roderick has received numerous community service awards, resolutions and proclamations from community
organizations and state representatives. The Beverly Cunningham Outreach Program is a 501©3 based in
Roderick has been on several blog talk radio shows, DCTV Channel 23, Comcast Television (PSA’s), been
featured in several newspaper articles for the Beverly Cunningham Outreach Program service in Metro Atlanta
and DeKalb Community, panelist with the Department of Children and Families Services Region IV Head Start
Association Conference in Atlanta, Georgia and featured on Kiss 104.1 FM. In 2012 Roderick received
numerous Proclamations, Resolutions and other awards from DeKalb County offices/Community Organizations.
Before taking on the foundation, Roderick was in corporate security as a Project Manager where he ran the
operations of four facilities with J. P. Morgan Chase in New Jersey, seven facilities for Citigroup in New Jersey,
Telemundo in New Jersey, CNBC News in New Jersey, and the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey for
the Georgia Washington Bridge & PATH Trains. These Accounts range from 1.2 million to 2 million dollar
budgets per year. And Roderick served in the United States NAVY.
Roderick has a loving wife (Muqueet Pelham-Cunningham) of eleven years and a beautiful daughter (Journee’
Maria Cunningham) who is nine years old. Roderick believes that family is very important. And spending
quality time with your family and children is of the upmost importance.
Vanessa Wilkins has worked in the non-profit domestic violence field for the last fifteen years. Starting out as Training Program Director for a 12 month residential program for women with life-controlling issues she then went on to become Shelter Director for a non-profit women’s shelter holding that position for 3 years. In 2003, Vanessa obtained a position with Fayette County Council on Domestic Violence d/b/a Promise Place as their project coordinator – helping to expand services currently being provided by the agency in Fayette county to 3 other counties and so helping grow the program as a whole. This resulted in the establishment of a strong legal advocacy program throughout a 4 county service area with offices located in each county to facilitate more effective outreach. With the opening of the Griffin Judicial Circuit’s first state certified domestic violence shelter in 2007 Vanessa took on the position as Shelter Director, assisting in putting together the framework for services while also providing assistance to the Executive Director. Since 2011 Vanessa has served as Executive Director for Promise Place. She is currently chair of the Griffin Judicial Circuit Domestic Violence Task Force which works alongside other agencies to provide domestic violence awareness as well as hold batterers accountable throughout the circuit.
Veda Brown is the founder and Executive Director of Sisters Empowerment Network (SEN.), a not-for-profit volunteer based community organization that is committed to helping women correct and resolve any negative behavior that has served as barriers to reaching their ultimate destiny. Described as an inspirational and encouraging people person; Veda takes the task of running Sisters Empowerment Network to heart. The Atlanta native has experienced her own share of devastation through the tragic death of her husband, who was gunned down in an armed robbery. The tragedy presented her with the challenge of raising two children on her own, one of which she was pregnant with at the time. Nonetheless, she did not allow her circumstance to reign triumphant over her. Instead, Veda refocused her attention on helping others. She has received training from the University of Georgia, the Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Georgia Commission of Family Violence. Veda stands strong in her belief in an ultimate, higher power, which she says is her greatest inspiration. She lives her life based on the philosophy of being committed to providing all the emotional, social and resources available to ensure women they can achieve all goals through perseverance and commitment. A resident and active community citizen of Riverdale, Veda is the mother of two children and the grandmother of four. Her hobbies include reading, graphic designs, and event planning.