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Report: Gov. Justice appoints Mark Sorsaia as Secretary of Dept. of Homeland Security

DHS marks International Women’s Day


March 8, 2022

W.Va. DHS marks International Women’s Day

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Department of Homeland Security celebrated several of its key contributors, present and past, to mark International Women's Day on Tuesday.

Deputy Chief of Staff Ann Urling from Gov. Jim Justice's office and DHS Deputy General Counsel Morgan Switzer helped lead the State Capitol ceremony, where the honorees were presented with certificates of commendation.

International Women’s Day is a global holiday commemorating the cultural, political, and socioeconomic achievements of women. Homeland Security Secretary Jeff Sandy asked DHS component agencies to nominate honorees.

“The women of the Department of Homeland Security have a proud history of protecting West Virginia from threats to our way of life,” said Sandy. “Every day, they do what is right for our citizens with honor, integrity, and respect.  It's truly an honor to be present with these women today.”

Tuesday's ceremony also recognized Executive Assistant to the Chief of Staff
Sherri Foreman from Justice's office for her support of the department over the years. Urling was named an honorary member of Homeland Security, and presented with a ceremonial badge.

The component agencies selected the following individuals for recognition:

Division of Administrative Services: Kimberly Potters
Kimberly Potters stepped up in December 2021 when a ransomware attack targeted the timekeeping and payroll system for West Virginia state government. Potters supervises the payroll unit at DAS, which handles such duties for more than 4,260 employees throughout Homeland Security. When the cyber attack locked up the state’s payroll processing system, Potters was instrumental in establishing a contingency plan for DAS and putting together a team to ensure that everyone would receive a paycheck.

Potters provided leadership, dedication and deep knowledge of payroll procedures, having begun her career with the former regional jail system in 1999 before joining DAS when it was created in 2018. DAS continued to use the resulting contingency plan until the regular processing system was restored. As part of this plan, Potters and her team entered more than 13,000 transactions into the WVOASIS system. Over the three pay periods affected by the ransomware attack, DAS had to cut only 29 paper checks due to timesheet errors.

Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation: Sylvia Haney
A key mission of DCR is helping offenders become lawful and productive members of society upon their return to their communities. Agency leaders credit Sylvia Haney with greatly improving the prospects of their success through Correctional Industries.

Correctional Industries participants gain work experience and training by producing an array of goods. Haney helped turn Correctional Industries around after a 2002 legislative audit raised numerous issues. Haney worked long hours for about four months to remedy financial reporting issues flagged by auditors. She then was instrumental in starting up Correctional Industries operations at such facilities as Denmar and Saint Marys. She has also lent the skills she developed toward creating Corrections’ inmate trust fund accounting system and developing the parameters for inmate medical, food services and commissary contracts.

Division of Emergency Management: Vicki Chandler
Vicki Chandler is a 39-year veteran of state government public service and has devoted 35 of those years to Emergency Management. Over the decades she has assisted with numerous sections and programs, including Planning, Operations, Recovery, Flood Warning and the State Interoperable Radio Network. She currently serves as the administrative assistant to Director G.E. McCabe.

Division of Emergency Management:  Marilyn Lynch
Marilyn Lynch joined what is now Emergency Management at a challenging time: the 2014 water contamination crisis caused by an Elk River chemical spill. Lynch helped state emergency responders keep in touch with community leaders and businesses throughout the affected area to ensure a supply of safe bottled and bulk water.

Lynch has since held key roles in the wake of multiple floods, including the catastrophic flooding in June 2016. She worked closely with the Federal Emergency Management Agency after that deadly disaster as the appointed Individual Assistance officer, and aided preliminary damage assessment teams in later events. She continues to support West Virginia’s COVID-19 response, helping communities and other eligible entities apply for reimbursement funding.

Office of the State Fire Marshal: Carole Nolte
West Virginia’s first female Deputy State Fire Marshal, Nolte served the critical agency role of Public Education director. For years, Nolte crisscrossed the state to provide fire and life safety education to countless school children as well as fire departments, businesses and the general public. As part of this role, Nolte developed and delivered train-the-trainer fire and life safety programs to further this SFM mission. She also created and taught the first statewide safety and education class focused specifically on people with disabilities, working with the West Virginia Developmental Disabilities Council and Statewide Independent Living Council.

Nolte assisted the West Virginia Legislature when it proposed and passed the 2009 Reduced Cigarette Ignition Propensity Standard and Firefighter Protection Act. She then ran the resulting SFM program. Nolte also helped modernize the state’s participation in the National Fire Incident Reporting System, providing training and oversight to move West Virginia’s 448 fire departments from paper to electronic reporting. She retired in November 2011 after 14 years with the SFM.

West Virginia Fusion Center: Kathryn Wolfe
Kathryn Wolfe aids an integral program at the West Virginia Fusion Center by planning the quarterly meetings and annual training conferences of its Fusion Liaison Officers, who help carry out the “See Something, Say Something” mission. Wolfe has also assisted in the expansion and reorganization of the Fusion Center’s headquarters as the agency’s administrative assistant.

Wolfe joined the Fusion Center in 2020, moving from the Office of the State Fire Marshal where she had received an Outstanding Employee Award in 2019.

Parole Board: Peggy Pope
Peggy Pope helped champion multiple reforms of West Virginia’s parole process following her appointment by Gov. Bob Wise in 2001. During her tenure, the Parole Board worked with national experts to develop evidence- and research-based standards for release consideration. Pope also helped the board implement numerous criminal justice changes, including the sweeping Justice Reinvestment Act of 2013.

An inaugural graduate of Marshall University’s Criminal Justice program in 1976, Pope brought to this position more than two decades of experience in the magistrate court and circuit clerk systems. She was re-appointed to the board by Gov. Joe Manchin and Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, with the board growing from five to nine members. Pope retired from the board in August 2019 after 18 years of service. Gov. Jim Justice has since appointed her to the West Virginia Lottery Commission.

Division of Protective Services (Capitol Police): Margaret Cash
Margaret Cash was quickly identified as a standout employee when she began working at the Capitol Complex as a rover for a campus security contractor. When Protective Service established its Command Center in 2000, she was hired as a tele-communicator the following year. By 2007, she was offered the position of Command Center Supervisor and in 2010 became the agency’s Executive Secretary.

Cash has proved a dedicated and diligent member of the Capitol Police team throughout her tenure. In addition to her current position’s regular duties, Cash tracks contractor projects on campus and the related background requirements while maintaining a schedule of all Capitol Complex activities.

West Virginia State Police: Deborah Beckner
For more than half a century, Communications Coordinator Deborah Beckner has served the people of West Virginia through its State Police. She began with the department as a headquarters teletype operator in 1969. Also serving as a relief radio dispatcher in that initial position, she furthered that role when she became a Police Tele-communicator Supervisor in 1975.

Beckner was named communications coordinator in 1985, helping to oversee the continuing modernization of State Police communications. During her tenure, West Virginia developed and continues to improve upon the State Interoperable Radio Network (SIRN). Beckner moved from full- to part-time in this supervisory role in 2019.
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Update: Employees of DHS' Office of the Secretary were also honored at the ceremony. Executive Secretary Stephanie Tiller received Certificates of Commendation on behalf of herself, Lori McCoy, Sarah Daugherty, and Misty Adkins.

LAWRENCE MESSINA (304) 957-2515 Lawrence.C.Messina@wv.gov