Meet the People Who See the Power in West Virginia
“The Our Future WV team is an amazing collective of single moms, grandparents, former laborers, safety net recipients, strategic thinkers, teachers, students, and organizers, in all shapes and forms. It is an honor to work alongside these powerful individuals and West Virginians, as we help build from the ground up - a West Virginia where we can all live and thrive.”
- Jennifer Wells, Executive Director, OFWV
Jennifer Wells, MSW, is both an experienced organizer and social worker. With an extensive background working in child welfare, juvenile justice, community services, program development, and fundraising, Jennifer brings a skilled and multi-layered lens to her social justice and organizing work.
Having joined Our Future WV (then, WVHKFC) in 2015 as an organizer leading the Shared Use public health campaign, Jennifer later transitioned to youth development and leadership work as director of the Young WV program, before stepping into the role of executive director of OFWV. As a Black woman raised in the South (New Orleans, specifically) by a single mother, Jennifer brings her lived experience, passion, and knowledge to the work that not only gives her life but is her joy.
Jennifer serves as state chair for Care International and board president for the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy. In 2018, she was named Social Worker of the Year by the West Virginia Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers. Jennifer resides in Huntington, WV, with her amazing husband David. Traveling, eating, and listening to live music are favorite pastimes.
Education Justice Organizer and Parent Engagement Field Director
Jenny Anderson is the Education Justice Organizer for Our Future WV and the Director of Families Leading Change (FLC), a statewide coalition that provides opportunities for parents, students, and other family members (kinship) to have a voice in public schools. FLC supports families by offering funding to start educational programs and projects and trains families who want to work with their principals, teachers, and school staff to make their hometown schools better. These family teams also work on creating a school system change or policy on a local, state, or federal level.
Jenny is very passionate about school wellness policy and ensuring that schools have tools to involve students and staff. She found her own parent voice when she volunteered in her child's school where she was able to create programming and a school environment that encouraged a healthy lifestyle daily.
Carey Jo Grace
Grassroots WV Institute Coordinator and Southern Regional Organizer
Carey Jo Grace is Our Future WV's organizer for the southern third of WV as well as the Grassroots WV Institute Coordinator. A long-time volunteer activist and advocate around mountain top removal, water quality and economic diversification, she joined the team in 2013.
She lives in Charleston, WV, with her husband and youngest son. They spend many weekends working on their rural property where they plan to build a house using natural building methods, live off-grid, and start a small permaculture farm.
Amy Jo Hutchison
Economic Justice, Anti-Hunger and Northern Regional Organizer
Amy Jo is an organizer for Our Future WV and a lifelong resident of WV, having always resided in the Northern Panhandle. Her lived experience developed her passion for organizing with poor folks, especially single moms. Her determination to help create a WV in which everyone is seen and valued is personal as she wants her own children to grow up and stay here while not inheriting her struggles.
She names the greatest privilege that comes with her job as the ability to travel the state and meet people where they are, literally and figuratively. Amy Jo believes that our systemic issues are the same all over the state, so if she is doing her job as an organizer well, there's no reason for any of us to feel as if we're standing alone. Together, we can turn our pain into power.
Economic Justice and Eastern Regional Organizer
Liira Raines is the Eastern Regional Organizer for Our Future WV. A native of Roane County, WV, Liira spent over a decade working on fracked gas drilling rigs, then became involved in environmental justice activism after seeing the effects of the industry on West Virginia communities. The journey down the rabbit-hole of changing the world was swift from there, from leading a student environmental group at Glenville State College to chairing the WV Chapter of the Sierra Club to organizing around various issues under OFWV.
Since becoming an organizer with OFWV, Liira has helped local communities build people-centered movements around everything from school funding to environmental justice. Her chief joy in life is watching folks seize power back from bad guys in suits, and she looks forward to many, many years of seeing just that.
Youth Empowerment and Racial Justice Organizer
Takeiya Smith is the Youth Organizer of the Our Future WV Young West Virginia Power Building Movement (OFWV's Young WV), a movement that is building power all across the state by informing, supporting and connecting young people through social action and advocacy. Young WV supports young leaders who seek use collaborative strategies to make their communities, campuses, and systems more more equitable, compassionate, and just. Young WV leaders take on a variety of different social issues ranging from LGBTQ+ rights, mental health advice, to juvenile justice and more.
Takeiya is energized approaching all social action through a racial justice lens and with historical context. She aims to utilize her own experience a black millennial woman who is a native to West Virginia to build with her community throwing intersectional organizing.
Housing Justice and Civic Engagement Organizer
Charkera Ervin is the Housing Justice and Civic Engagement organizer for Our Future WV. A native of McDowell and Mercer counties she has a background in public education and political organizing, and activism. She received a B.S. in Teacher Education from Bluefield State College and certification in Deaf/ Hard of Hearing Education from Marshall University. Charkera currently lives in Bluefield with her phenomenal husband, Marcus.
Her work in the organization focuses around Housing Justice: fair and equitable policy on housing for all. Charkera also lends her expertise and perspective to education and racial justice. She believes that civic engagement and action is necessary to guide good public policy on every level from municipalities to state to the federal level. As a person who grew up in the southern coalfields, Charkera remains dedicated to being a bridge for people seeking a way to get justice.
Anthony Greene is the Communications Director at Our Future West Virginia. As a proud West Virginian, he has dedicated his professional career to working with West Virginian communities and the surrounding Appalachian region.
Anthony attended Marshall University and received his B.A. in Media Studies and Production. Subsequently he has worked with organizations such as Marshall University, Standwatch Academy, Coda Mountain Academy and Our Future West Virginia. Passionate about his state and the innovative people making a difference, Anthony is excited to be a part of the Our Future West Virginia team where he hopes he can communicate, educate, and create a better future for all West Virginians.
Lucy Ward is the Administrative Director at Our Future WV. She was raised in Huntington, WV, and attended Marshall University, where she earned her BBA in International Business and MBA in Financial Management. Through her passion for activism and volunteer work, Jennifer Wells recruited her to volunteer with OFWV (then, WVHKFC) in late 2017. A few months later in early 2018, she was hired as an Administrative Assistant for the organization. She was later promoted to Administrative Director in the summer of 2019. In her role as Administrative Director, Lucy focuses on office management, bookkeeping, and organizational management. She is passionate and dedicated to her work in the nonprofit industry.
MSW Practicum Intern
Maggie is a student in her second year in the MSW and MPA programs at West Virginia University. Maggie is from Dayton, Ohio where she graduated with a degree in Social Work and Urban Affairs from Wright State University. Much of her work in the area was in recreational programming through local governments. Working in that field, she saw the impact that lack of resources and poor local policies can have on communities.
After seeing this need to bridge the divide between communities and the governments and nonprofits that serve them, Maggie has made it her mission to see these groups work together to implement the best policies to encourage safe, stable, and flourishing communities. Wanting to learn more about the world of community organizing and advocacy while helping those in her new community, she found her way to Our Future WV.