University of Charleston

The West Virginia Drug Intervention Institute and ACES Coalition of WV Announce:  A Community Conversation around Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES)


Charleston, WV (March 3, 2020) —The ACES Coalition of West Virginia and the WV Drug Intervention Institute at UC are hosting panel discussion and question/answer session on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) at the University of Charleston School of Pharmacy’s Change the Stigma Conference on March 21, 2020.  The community conversation is open to the public and will occur from 10:30am-11:45am in the University’s Ballroom, located in the Geary Student Union.

The West Virginia Drug Intervention Institute at UC and the ACES Coalition are working hand-in-hand to present this panel in an effort to both educate the community on the impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) as well as the need for increasing resiliency and “Counter-ACES” in our most vulnerable population – our children.

“We know that Adverse Childhood Experiences (or ACEs) increase the likelihood that a child will become addicted to prescription or illicit substances as an adult,” said Dr. Susan Bissett, president of the WV Drug Intervention Institute. “However, we can help counteract these experiences with positive ones and help our children become resilient as parents, educators, health professionals and caring community members.”

The panel will be moderated by the WV Drug Intervention Institute and will include experts from professions witnessing the impact of ACEs on a daily basis.  The panel members include:

Kathy Szafran – Szafran is one of the founding members of the ACES Coalition of WV.  She recently joined Aetna Better Health of WV  as a senior project manager, overseeing the managed care organization for West Virginia youth in adoption and foster care placement. She previously served as president and CEO for Crittenton Services. Szafran is a nationally recognized presenter on trauma-focused care and gender-responsive care.

Dr. Barb Brady – Dr. Brady is a licensed Professional Counselor and Youth Mental Health First Aid certified trainer.  She is the founder of the Inspiring Dreams Network and serves as the Awareness Task Team Chair for the ACES Coalition.

Richard “Ric” Renquest – Renquest is currently serving as the senior director of program and service for Pressley Ridge in West Virginia.  He is a member-at-large of the West Virginia Licensed Professional Counselors Association and a member of the ACES coalition.

Dr. Michael Brumage – Dr. Brumage is currently serving as the Medical Director for Cabin Creek Health Systems, where he is involved in multiple projects aimed at assisting individuals in obtaining rapid treatment for substance use disorders.  Dr. Brumage formerly served as the Executive Director/Health Officer for the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department and the Director of the Office of Drug Control Policy. He is also a member of the ACES Coalition.

David Baldwin – Baldwin is currently a professor in the Physician Assistant program at the University of Charleston.  He has been a clinically practicing Physician Assistant for six years, and still practices one day a week at South Charleston Pediatrics.

Brittany Smith – Smith is an ambitious Public Health student at the West Virginia University School of Public Health and has a passion for research.  She has conducted several research projects and presentations surrounding substance use and ACES and aspires to become an early adversity researcher, providing interventions for children whose parents abuse substances.

Admission to this panel is free to the public. To register, visit:


About the WV DII
The West Virginia Drug Intervention Institute (WV DII) at the University of Charleston is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. The mission of the WV DII is to reduce deaths in West Virginia from opioid and drug abuse by being (a) an independent advocate for life-enhancing drug policies, and practices, (b) a hub for coordinating drug response activities, and (c) an educational center to address the prevalence of drug abuse and the stigma of drug addiction. The Institute is housed at the University of Charleston in West Virginia’s state capital and is designed to: identify and assess best practices through research and data analysis, provide education programs on prescription drug safety, collaborate with municipalities and agencies to promote best practices to prevent overdose deaths, advocate for policies that promote educational and employment opportunities for those in recovery, and identify and implement prevention strategies.

About the ACES Coalition of West Virginia
The ACES Coalition of West Virginia includes over 300 different organizations and individuals working together to improve the health and well-being of all West Virginians by reducing the impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and preventing their occurrence. The goals of this coalition are to advocate for resources to support best practices to reduce the burden of ACES, coordinate across agency boundaries to deliver the best possible services to reduce and mitigate ACES, and educate the public and influential citizens/leaders on the role of ACEs in the present health and economic problems facing our state.