MORGANTOWN – Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin named attorney
and former secretary of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human
Resources Taunja Willis-Miller as one of the newest members of the West
Virginia University Board of Governors on Sept. 20.
“It is an honor to be appointed,” Willis-Miller told The
West Virginia Record. “The
appointment presents a unique opportunity to give back to the university, which
gave me an excellent education and laid the foundation for a successful
Willis-Miller received both her undergraduate and
law degrees from West Virginia University, where she earned membership in Phi
Beta Kappa and Order of the Coif.
Willis-Miller served as West Virginia's first secretary
of the Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR), from 1989 through 1991.
DHHR includes several long-term care facilities, the state's mental hospitals,
an acute care hospital.
Her peers regularly selected Willis-Miller for inclusion
in The Best Lawyers in America magazine, and she actively participates in
community activities to continue her efforts to improve the health and welfare
of the community.
Recipient of the 2011 Rural Health Leadership Award, she also
serves on the Loan Committee of the Center for Rural Health, the advisory board
for the Morgantown bank of Branch Banking and Trust Co.,
the Boards of Directors of Arts Monongahela, the Monongalia County Child
Advocacy Center and is a member of the Cheat Lake Rotary Club.
She maintains membership in the American Health Lawyers Association,
the Healthcare Financial Management Association, the National Association of
Bond Lawyers and the West Virginia Economic Development Council.
Willis-Miller added that she has also had many mentors who
helped shape her as the person and professional she is today, starting with her
parents and grandmother whom she said, “was a feminist before feminism.”
Willis-Miller expressed her life-long loyalty to West
Virginia as she described the focus in her professional life as being
improving the state through bond issues, educational and health care
facilities, and serving as the secretary of the DHHR.
“I think this commitment
to the state and to the university played a role in the appointment,” Willis-Miller said.
Willis-Miller says she is committed to being a fully
engaged board member. When asked what she intends to contribute to the board,
she said: “Almost 40 years of experience in public finance and representing
governmental entities and nonprofits, together with experience in state government
should help me contribute to the board.”
With a rich history in human services and community
engagement, Willis-Miller shared that she is open-minded and considers
various solutions to problems.
“I have basic West Virginia values; I am
honest and hard-working and care about my community," she said.
Willis-Miller said she has been interested in improving
the lives of West Virginia’s children since she was in high school.
interest in the welfare of children led me to DHHR; my interest in health
care grew from my work at DHHR. Children are, at the same time, our greatest
resources and our most vulnerable citizens,” she said.