BY: CAITY COYNE – AUGUST 28, 2023 4:50 PM

Exactly six weeks after the deadline, Gov. Jim Justice announced his five appointments to the West Virginia First Foundation board during his Monday news briefing.

The appointments by Justice complete the First Foundation’s 11-member board. The board — made up of six regionally elected members in addition to the five appointed by Justice —  will be responsible for allocating an expected $1 billion from opioid settlements to programs and communities across the state in an attempt to quell the ongoing drug and overdose epidemic.

Appointments made Monday include:

  • Jeff Sandy, the former cabinet secretary for the state Department of Homeland Security
  • Dora Stutler, Harrison County Schools superintendent
  • Matt Harvey, Jefferson County prosecuting attorney
  • Greg Duckworth, former state trooper and current Raleigh County Commissioner
  • Alys Smith, a philanthropist

Duckworth worked as a West Virginia State Trooper for 26 years and retired in 2016, according to the Herald Dispatch. He was elected as a Raleigh County commissioner in 2020.

In March, according to the Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Duckworth worked as head security at the Resort at Glade Springs. The Resort at Glade Springs, Glade Springs Real Estate and Glade Springs Village, a planned housing development in the area, are all owned and operated by companies controlled by Justice and his family. 

While Justice has attempted to distance himself from his family’s companies, his online biography credits him for acquiring The Resort at Glade Springs when he “saw an opportunity to grow tourism in Raleigh County.”

In 2021, Duckworth was the only member of the Raleigh County Commission to vote in support of creating a 30-year, $19.5 million tax increment financing (or TIF) district for two tracts of land in the county. Per the Daily Telegraph, Justice’s children — and Justice himself, according to his biography — had stakes in the company looking to develop the area and Brier Patch Golf Links, one of the tracts of land where the TIF district was proposed for. 

Sandy, who was one of Justice’s first cabinet appointments when he took office in 2017, retired from his position as cabinet secretary last month. 

His departure occurred almost a year after a state of emergency was declared for the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation due to conditions within regional jails. 

Alys Smith is married to Marshall University President Brad Smith. Together, they are the cofounders of the Wing 2 Wing Foundation, a nonprofit organization supporting entrepreneurs in Appalachia. Alys Smith is an Ohio native and a licensed attorney with work experience in Ohio, New Jersey and Connecticut.

The five new appointees will serve on the West Virginia First Foundation board alongside Dr. Steven Corder, medical director for Northwood Health Systems; Timothy Czaja, director of Berkeley County Community Corrections; Tom Joyce, the mayor of Parkersburg; Jonathan Board, the vice president of external affairs at Mon Health Systems; Dr. Matthew Christiansen, state health officer and the commissioner of the state Bureau for Public Health and Dr. Tony Kelly, a Raleigh County doctor with more than 40 years experience in emergency medicine. 

An executive director will head the foundation and the state has hired a national search firm to find candidates for the position. Attorney General Patrick Morrisey will appoint the executive director after consultation with the now-full board. As head of the foundation, the executive director will be responsible for keeping its records. Members of the board could unseat the executive director if three-fourths of them vote to do so. 

So far, West Virginia has received about $400 million of its expected $1 billion in opioid settlement money. The First Foundation will distribute that money to evidence-based or evidence-informed programs to help curb drug use and addiction in the state, as well as to specific communities to help offset the costs associated with addiction and treatment. 

** West Virginia Watch is a nonprofit media source. Articles are shared under creative commons license. Please visit for more independent Mountain State news coverage.

**Photo caption: West Virginia Governor Jim Justice. (Will Price | West Virginia Legislative Photography)

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