Board of Directors

Board meetings

The UNITE Board of Directors typically meets at 10:00 a.m. on the 3rd Tuesday of each month at 350 CAP Drive in London, KY.

Scheduled 2022 meeting dates

January 18, February 15, March 15, April 26, May 17, June 21, July 26, August 16, September 20, October 18, November 22, and December 20. (updated 7-26-2022)

Board meetings are held in person and via Zoom.


Jackie L. Steele, Jr., JD, Commonwealth Attorney, Kentucky 27th Judicial Circuit

Jackie Steele earned his Juris Doctor degree from the Salmon P. Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University in 2001. He practiced civil law prior to accepting a full-time position as Assistant Commonwealth Attorney and, in 2008, was appointed Commonwealth Attorney for the 27th Judicial Circuit. He has handled hundreds of felony cases ranging from theft, embezzlement, rape, drug trafficking and murder. Mr. Steele was named “Outstanding Commonwealth’s Attorney” in 2011. In addition, Mr. Steele has been recognized by Drug Court staff for his exceptional support to the Drug Court program, the Kentucky Narcotic Officers’ Association for outstanding support and commitment to drug enforcement efforts in the state and for going above and beyond to support legislative efforts, and received the “Sword of Justice Award” from the Kentucky Commonwealth Attorneys’ Association for ceaseless dedication to the pursuit of justice. Mr. Steele is Past-President of the Kentucky Commonwealth Attorneys’ Association, a member of the Laurel County and Kentucky Bar Associations, the 27th Judicial Circuit Drug Court Team, and the Laurel and Knox County Child Abuse Response Teams. He has served as a Board Member for Operation UNITE since January 2012.


Mary Colvin, CPA, MBA, Vice President of Claims Services, Kentucky Employers’ Mutual Insurance

Mary Colvin is an experienced workers’ compensation professional with extensive background leading the daily operations of a multi-million-dollar insurance company. As Vice President of Claims Services for Kentucky Employers’ Mutual Insurance (KEMI), Ms. Colvin directs the daily operations of the Claims, Legal, Special Investigation, and Cost Containment departments. Ms. Colvin joined KEMI in 1996 and, over the course of her tenure, has held a variety of management-level positions. She received her bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Kentucky and obtained her MBA from the University of Phoenix. Ms. Colvin is a Certified Public Accountant, Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter, and a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Kentucky Society of Certified Public Accountants. A native of Campbellsville, she currently resides in Lexington. Ms. Colvin serves on the board of directors for Operation UNITE (since January 2013) and Women Leading Kentucky.

Tom Handy, JD, Retired Commonwealth Attorney, Kentucky 27th Judicial Circuit

Tom Handy served as Commonwealth’s Attorney for Kentucky’s 27th Judicial Circuit for 28 years, retiring in 2003 to focus on various boards and organizations – including serving as a founding Board Member for Operation UNITE. Mr. Handy has also served on the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority, the Kentucky Executive Ethics Commission, the Executive Legislative Committee, and the Kentucky Crime Victim’s Compensation Board. After graduating from the University of Kentucky Law School, Mr. Handy worked as an assistant for Kentucky’s Fifth District U.S. Rep. Tim Lee Carter before opening a private law practice in 1971. He is a charter member of the London-Laurel County (KY) Tourist Commission. Mr. Handy helped organize a mission group called ABLE (Assisted Better Living for Everywhere) that performs construction mission work within KY and internationally. Primary emphasis is on improvements to school, orphanages and senior citizen residences. He and wife Bonnie have two grown children, Dennie Mills and Starr Handy. He has served as a Board Member for Operation UNITE since April 2003.

Cheryl Hickman, RN, BSN, MS, NE-BC, CCMSCP, CJCP, Senior Vice President/Chief Regulatory Officer, Pikeville Medical Center

Cheryl Hickman provides oversight for all certification programs and oversight for compliance with all state and regulatory standards for Pikeville Medical Center. In addition she oversees the Heart Institute at Pikeville Medical Center, and is a member of the Senior Executive Leadership team that oversees standards, policies, personnel, and budgets for the Medical Center. Ms. Hickman has been awarded the 2014 Certified Nurse Executive Award by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. Ms. Hickman earned a bachelor of nursing from Morehead State University and masters in health service management from LaSalle University. She is board certified in nursing administration with the American Nurses Credentialing Center, certified specialist in Joint Commission accreditation. Previously Ms. Hickman served as Pikeville Medical Center’s Chief Nursing Officer, Director of Children’s Services, Unit Manager for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and Pediatrics, House Supervisor and Assistant Director of nursing service, and Head Nurse in the Critical Care Unit. In 2005, she was recognized on the floor of the U.S. Senate for leading a medical team to the New Orleans Airport during Hurricane Katrina. In 2004, she was the first nurse in Kentucky to receive the American Organization of Nurse Executive AONE “Community Partnership Award.” She has served as a Board Member for Operation UNITE since July 2013.

Elizabeth M. Nichols, MS, Manager, Division of Operations, Department of Specialty Courts, Kentucky Administrative Office of the Courts

Elizabeth Nichols has served as Manager of the Division of Operations within the Kentucky Department of Specialty Courts since 2012. As Manager, she oversees operations for the 120 Kentucky counties with Specialty Court programs – Drug Courts, Veteran Treatment Courts, DUI Courts, and Mental Health Courts. Ms. Nichols is a published author in the Journal for Advancing Justice (2022) and the Journal of Social Work Practice in the Addictions (2021). Ms. Nichols earned a Bachelor’s Degree in political science and criminology from Western Kentucky University, and a Masters’ Degree in criminal justice and police studies from Eastern Kentucky University. She is an alumna of Leadership Shelby County, Kentucky. Ms. Nichols is currently a board member for the Kentucky Agency for Substance Abuse Policy and a member of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals. She has served as a full-time proxy Board Member for Operation UNITE since August 2022

Captain Jennifer Sandlin, proxy for the Kentucky State Police

Jennifer Sandlin began her career in law enforcement with Kentucky State Police in 2003. She has held the rank of Trooper, Sergeant, Lieutenant, and Captain. She is currently assigned as the post commander of Post 13 in Hazard. In 2017, Captain Sandlin worked with Operation UNITE to pilot the first Angel Initiative program for the Kentucky State Police at Post 9, Pikeville, and represented KSP as a consortium member for Operation UNITE’s Rural Health Opioid Program (RHOP) for three years.  She attends the monthly UNITE Board meetings on behalf of the Kentucky State Police. She is often asked to present at public health summits and drug prevention coalition meetings on the agency’s Angel Initiative. She has served as a full-time proxy Board Member for Operation UNITE since January 2020.


Darrell Wages, Parts Manager, Boyd CAT

Darrell Wages retired in 2021 from Boyd CAT (formerly Whayne Supply Company) following 43 years of service. Most recently, Mr. Wages was responsible for auditing all 19 parts departments in Kentucky, West Virginia and Indiana. Prior to that, he oversaw all sections of the office and warehouse operations at the Corbin, KY, branch. His service included 35 years in supervision and management. Mr. Wages has an Associate of Applied Science in Business Administration degree from Union College, and a host of corporate trainings, including the Caterpillar Flagship program. Mr. Wages and his wife, Jane, a retired teacher, reside in Corbin. He has served as a Board Member for Operation UNITE since August 2010.