Inclusive Worker Health Leadership Network

What is the Inclusive Worker Health Leadership Network (IWHLN)?

A key strategy in RETAIN Kentucky’s efforts to promote multisystem improvement, innovation, and change is the Inclusive Worker Health Leadership Network (IWHLN). This network, comprised of medical professionals, public health leaders, employers, workforce development, the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce and consumers, focuses on the coordination of state and local initiatives to accelerate opportunities for Kentuckians to stay at work or return to work.

The Network makes annual recommendations to the governor regarding policy and systems change to promote more timely, coordinated and effective services, leading to better employment outcomes for Kentucky citizens. Access the latest report below.

Members of the IWHLN

Andrew Johnson, MAEd  

Andrew Johnson is a Policy Analyst at the Council of State Governments (CSG). He works on a variety of education and workforce topics, including RETAIN Kentucky, and is a member of Kentucky’s Employment First Council. He attended the University of Kentucky, where he earned Bachelor of Arts degrees in both History and Political Science, as well as a Master of Arts in Education.

Angela R. Guyton, MS

As a member on RETAIN KY’s Inclusive Worker Health Leadership Network, I serve as a Volunteer with lived experience.  Back in 2008, I developed limited mobility along with other health related issues due to Osteoarthritis and Ehler’s Danlos Syndrome.  My quality of life was dramatically improved with assistance from Kentucky’s Office of Vocational Rehabilitation program.

Debbie Dennison

In her role as the Deputy Executive Director of the Kentucky Workforce Innovation Board (KWIB), the state’s workforce development board, Debbie plays the role of a stakeholder convener and project facilitator within Kentucky’s workforce ecosystem. With a background in the private sector in business development and project management, Debbie provides operational direction and ensures an inclusive and collaborative atmosphere for board members and partners. Debbie believes that all Kentuckians that want to work should have the opportunity to enter and grow in their chosen career.

Deborah R. Campbell, MSN, RN, CPHQ, IP, T-CHEST, CCRN alumna

Vice President of Clinical Strategy and Transformation – Kentucky Hospital Association. Immediately previous, she acted as VP of Quality and Health Professions at the KHA, following acting as Director of Infection Prevention and Employee Health at Twin Lakes Regional Medical Center in Leitchfield, Kentucky. She earned her BSN at the University of Louisville and her MSN at Bellarmine University. She was a pediatric ICU nurse and CCRN for over 25 years and director of a large Pediatric ICU. During that time, she served as national faculty for the American Heart Association Pediatric Advanced Life Support program. She also worked as a CNS for a large pediatric cardiology practice and as nurse consultant and nurse faculty for the Children’s Hospital Association’s Quality Transformation Network and the National Pediatric Cardiology Improvement Collaborative. Deb also has 15 years of experience as a legal nurse consultant and has co-authored papers on Central Line Associated Blood Stream Infections, pediatric codes and pediatric sepsis collaborative work. Deb leads the Kentucky Sepsis Consortium and serves on the boards of the Kentucky Organization of Nurses Leaders and the Kentucky Association of Healthcare Quality.

Dena C. Sparkman, MHA. FACHE

Over 25 years of experience in healthcare leadership roles currently as the Vice President of Clinical Excellence where I focus on quality, service and infection prevention. I have worked primarily in acute care, but also have experience in both long term care and acute rehab. 

Dennis McClain, MD, FACEP, ABEM, MROCC

Dr. McClain is currently the medical director for Norton Occupational Medicine and a fellow in the American College of Emergency Physicians.  He has been practicing in the worker’s compensation arena for over 30 years and has extensive experience in SAW/RTW strategies.  He has also done hundreds of impairment and disability evaluations and was certified by the American Board of Independent Medical Examiners.  He is a certified Medical Review Officer. 

Derek Stern

Derek joined Unum as a Health & Productivity Director in July of 2018. In this role, Derek is responsible for providing consultative support to our large case clients in their goal to reduce absences. Focal points include return to work programs, lost time analyses, and benchmarking client performance against peers.

Prior to joining Unum, Derek was a Vice President of Customer Relations at CareWorks of Ohio, Ltd. He spent more than twenty years at CareWorks focused on implementing return to work programs and ensuring the success of his clients in managing their worker’s compensation programs.  In particular, he worked with a large block of public sector employers such as State of Ohio, State Universities (The Ohio State University, Ohio University, Kent State University, etc.), Cities and Townships and was deeply involved in implementation of beneficial programs for these entities.

Derek is a graduate of Hiram College in Ohio.  He lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan with his wife and their three children.

James Tidwell, MD

Dr. Tidwell is the VP of Population Health at Owensboro Health. He has served in this role for almost 5 years after returning to work following a spinal cord injury that resulted in C6 quadriplegia. Dr. Tidwell works closely with OH community engagement and leads the organization’s preventive care and health equity efforts.

Lisa Paxton, MAPC; NCC; LPCC-S; Mountain Pathways Home Program Manager; Permanent Supportive Housing; Regional Clinical Billing Manager Supervisor/Regional Outpatient Therapist

I started working in the mental health field in March 2001. I am consistently growing in my personal journey.  I have obtained some personal insights from my own experiences to give back to Kentucky through my work locally and through the 2nd fiscal year of being a proud member of the RETAIN KY team.

Marty Keith   MSA, SPHR   

Marty Keith is Market Vice President of Human Resource Operations for CHI Saint Joseph Health. In July 2021, he relocated to Lexington, KY from Memphis, TN and has previous executive experience in Human Resources and Healthcare Operations.  He received his Bachelor of Business Administration from Mississippi State University, and his Master of Science in Administration from Central Michigan University. Marty also enjoyed thirteen years as adjunct faculty teaching the human resource administration course in the Master of Public Health Administration program in the School of Public Health at the University of Memphis.

Priya Chandan, MD, PhD, MPH

Dr. Priya Chandan is a physician-scientist who engages in health services research to improve the quality of medical care for people with disabilities. She has been involved in research, health policy, and advocacy efforts for over 15 years, and has served in leadership positions in both academia and industry at national, state, and local levels. She is currently a clinical associate professor at the University Louisville School of Medicine in the Division of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

Rebecca Bray

Rebecca Bray is one of the founders and serves as the Executive Director of RRJ Solutions a Behavior Health agency where she specializes in building programs that limit barriers to treatment and includes the strengths of the community. She is enthusiastic about creating accepting and inclusive environments so that everyone can thrive in their unique abilities.

Sara S. Salles, DO, Professor and Vice Chair, Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation

Dr. Sara Salles is originally from Iran but has lived most of her life in the United States. She completed her residency in PM&R at the University of Kentucky in 2001, at which time she joined the faculty for one year before going to Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital/Harvard Medical School, where she gained her interest in Spinal Cord Injury Medicine and Movement Disorders. She found herself fortunate to be able to return to UK in 2004, where Dr. Salles presently serves as the Vice Chair for PM&R, Medical Director of the Spinal Cord Injury Unit at Cardinal Hill Rehabilitation Hospital, and Medical Director of the UK HealthCare PM&R Clinic. When not working, Dr. Salles loves spending time with her three children, her husband, Dr. Stefan Kiessling, a Pediatric Nephrologist at the University of Kentucky, watching soccer, cooking, and traveling.

Tukea L. Talbert, DNP, RN, CDP, Chief Diversity & Health Equity Officer, Office of the Executive VP of Health Affairs

Dr. Talbert is the Chief Diversity & Health Equity Officer for UK HealthCare.  In her role, she has responsibility to monitor, educate, consult, advise, and evaluate the health system’s progress with the execution and achievement of milestones within the Strategic Plan for Diversity, Equity, and inclusion.  Through her strategic leadership, she builds partnerships and alliances among internal and external stakeholders that include the UK HealthCare System and affiliates; campus colleagues, and community leaders and advocates.

Zach Morgan

Zach is a project manager at the Kentucky Chamber Foundation. Before joining the Kentucky Chamber he was involved in workforce matters at the Kentucky Commission on Military Affairs, in the Governor’s office. At KCMA he helped streamline employment processes for service members, military spouses, and veterans – through consultation with government agencies, non-profits, and legislators. Zach was an Army reservist and military spouse for eight years during the Global War on Terrorism.

RETAIN – IWHLN Staff

Austin Nugent, MPA

Austin Nugent is a Disability Program Administrator at the University of Kentucky’s Human Development Institute (HDI). She coordinates several statewide efforts focused on multi-system change related to disability, access, and inclusion, including the Inclusive Worker Health Leadership Network. She has a Master of Public Administration with a concentration in disability policy and a graduate certificate in developmental disabilities. In addition to her work at HDI, Austin serves on the National Disability Rights Network’s Board of Directors, the Kentucky Protection and Advocacy’s Mental Health Advisory Council, and is the Advocacy Chair for the Center for Accessible Living’s Board of Directors.

Betty Whittaker

Betty was employed by the Kentucky Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) on May 16, 2022, as a Staff Assistant to work with the RETAIN grant.  Betty is thrilled to be a part of OVR and to assist Kentuckians with illnesses or injuries to remain an important and vital part of the workforce. Prior to her employment with OVR, Betty served as an Executive Director of an association and received her Certified Association Executive designation.

Betty lives in Frankfort with her husband of 33 years, David, and has two children, Laura and Thomas, and three grandchildren, Reagan, Alex, and Dev. She also has two very spoiled miniature schnauzers, Molly and Macy.  When away from the office, Betty enjoys camping, boating, and hiking.

Cora McNabb

Cora McNabb, Executive Director of the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, graduated from Indiana University. She worked in the non profit environment for 14 years prior to taking a state position with the Kentucky Office of Vocational Rehabilitation.  She has over 30 years of experience in the field of rehabilitation in the areas of Workforce Initiatives, Management/Administration and grant writing.  For most of her career she has provided direct oversight of employment programs for individuals with disabilities.

Johnny Collett, MEd

Johnny Collett is deputy director at the University of Kentucky’s Human Development Institute (HDI). He serves as Workforce Lead for RETAIN KY. Before joining HDI, Collett served as Assistant U.S. Education Secretary for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services in Washington, D.C. Prior to that, Collett served as program director for special education outcomes at the Council of Chief State School Officers in Washington, D.C. Collett has also previously served as a division director and state special education director at the Kentucky Department of Education, and as a high school special education teacher.

Kimberly Wickert, MRC, CRC, CVE

Kimberly Wickert has been helping individuals, employers, and organizations in the remain and return to work process for over 20 years.  She promotes collaboration to identify opportunities and overcome obstacles for individuals, employers, workforce professionals and healthcare providers involved in the process to support sustainable solutions in an inclusive environment.  She began her career as a case manager and vocational specialist working in a hospital setting helping individuals with work related injuries in their return-to-work goals through vocational evaluations and job placement and development services and then moved into leadership overseeing 150 professionals in a managed care organization.  In addition to being the Director of Organizational Partnerships for RETAIN KY at the University of Kentucky’s Human Development Institute, she also worked in various educational settings including Kent State University, Wright State University and The Ohio State University teaching in rehabilitation counseling programs and advocating for individuals with disabilities in the workplace.  She has a master’s degree in Rehabilitation Counseling and is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor and Certified Vocational Evaluator.

Shirley Kron, BSN, COHN

Shirley Kron is the Director of Outreach and Engagement at the University of Kentucky Human Development Institute and serves as the Healthcare lead for RETAIN KY developing and expanding healthcare partnerships across the Commonwealth. Prior to her role at HDI, Shirley served as the Regional Director for Occupational and Corporate Health at CHI responsible for the KentuckyOne Workplace Care program. She managed the Occupational Physician services (OPS) practice which provided occupational medicine services for over 800 employers and their employees.  She was also responsible for management of onsite physicians at the Kentucky Ford Plant (KTP), Louisville Assembly Plant (LAP) and GE Haier. She is a certified Occupational Health Nurse Consultant (COHN-S) with 40 years of experience in nursing, including rehabilitation and care management.