Virginia’s First Lady to open Rural Summit for Childhood Success

(Abingdon, VA) April 10, 2019 – Realizing that child and family serving systems in rural communities across the Commonwealth have been adversely impacted by substance abuse, United Way of Southwest Virginia will host the first Rural Summit for Childhood Success in Abingdon, Virginia on Thursday, May 23, 2019.  Virginia’s First Lady Pamela Northam will serve as Honorary Chair for the Summit and offer opening remarks.

“Experiences during childhood have a tremendous impact on success later in life,” said First Lady Northam. “That’s why we formed the Children’s Cabinet to address nutrition, systems of care, and early education. We are developing solutions across state agencies to improve outcomes for Virginia’s youngest and most vulnerable citizens.”

The Summit, developed and hosted by United Way of Southwest Virginia, aims to build a common agenda, align resources, and support communities to develop strategies that build resiliency in communities, families, and individuals.

Summit attendees will participate in workshops presented by nationally known experts on topics including Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and the effects of childhood trauma.  Keynote speakers are Jeannette Walls, New York Times Best-Selling Author of The Glass Castle and Jim Sporleder, who is featured in the national documentary Paper Tigers.

Travis Staton, president and CEO of United Way of Southwest Virginia said, “As an important part of our cradle-to-career approach to lead long-term generational change, United Way convenes cross-sector partners to make an impact on the most complex problems in our region.  Fostering resiliency in our child-serving system is a critical component of building a healthy, well-educated workforce of tomorrow.”

Organizations partnering with United Way of Southwest Virginia to host the Summit include the Virginia Department of Health State Office of Rural Health, Ballad Health, Highlands Community Services Board, Anthem Health Keepers Plus, Frontier Health, the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation, the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, the Town of Abingdon EDA, the Virginia Department of Education, the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth, the Family and Children’s Trust Fund of Virginia, and the Southwest Virginia Cultural Center and Marketplace.

Registration for the Summit opened last week and is already nearing capacity.  Individuals and organizations interested in registering to attend are encouraged to visit the event’s website at  The early bird registration of $49 is available until Friday, April 12, 2019.


United Way of Southwest Virginia fights for the health, education and financial stability of every person in Southwest Virginia because they are the building blocks for a good quality of life.  Through an initiative-based cradle-to-career approach, United Way of Southwest Virginia is creating sustainable solutions to address the challenges facing tomorrow’s workforce. United Way convenes cross-sector partners to make an impact on the most complex problems in our region. Through collaboration with government, business, nonprofit and individuals, United Way innovates for positive, lasting social change.  With a footprint that covers nearly 19% of the state of Virginia, United Way of Southwest Virginia programs and initiatives serve the counties of Bland, Buchanan, Carroll, Dickenson, Floyd, Giles, Grayson, Lee, Montgomery, Pulaski, Russell, Scott, Smyth, Tazewell, Washington, Wise, and Wythe, and the cities of Bristol, Galax, Norton, and Radford.