CHARLESTON — WV KIDS COUNT is announcing its Champion of Children awardees for the upcoming The State of West Virginia’s Kids Virtual Summit Awards. The committee is releasing the 2020 WV KIDS COUNT Data Book and recognizing community leaders who champion our child well-being domains: education, health, economic well-being and family and community. With some very recognizable names, we are honored to shed a bright light on West Virginians who lead by example.

Our overall Champion of Children is Brad D. Smith, former CEO of Intuit and co-founder of The Wing 2 Wing Foundation, an organization whose goal is to advance the great equalizers of education and entrepreneurship in regions where individuals and communities have been overlooked and underserved. He and his wife, Alys, personally donated $25 million to Marshall University because they believe so passionately in education and economic opportunity. Smith also led Intuit to establish a prosperity hub in downtown Bluefield, creating up to 500 jobs planned. He is a true West Virginia success story – a son of Marshall University and champion of all that is good in the Mountain State.

Our Education Champion of Children is Dr. Gordon Gee, President of West Virginia University. Dr. Gee is one of America’s most prominent higher education leaders, having helmed universities for more than three decades. In 2009, Time magazine named him one of the top 10 university presidents in the United States. Recently, the website Great Value Colleges named him the nation’s top university president. In 2014, Gee returned to West Virginia University, where his career as a university president began. His leadership goals include putting students first, advancing the university’s research agenda and partnering with West Virginia communities.

Our Economic Well-Being Champion of Children is Nikki Bowman Mills, a West Virginia native who founded New South Media, Inc. and serves as president of the company, publisher, and editor-in-chief. Her mission is to create high caliber publications that change the perceptions of West Virginia by championing the state with positive stories. Because of her vision and leadership, what started as a regional publishing company has exponentially grown into a national multimedia powerhouse.

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