Sandy OxleyChief Advocacy Officer and Interim CEO
Sandy Oxley has many years of advocacy experience and brings a diverse background of public health, child welfare and policy experience to her role as Chief Advocacy Officer and Interim CEO. Sandy joined Voices for Ohio’s Children in 2008.
Her work as an advocate began in the area of tobacco control policy. She served as Regional Policy Coordinator with Tobacco Free Ohio and remains involved in the movement as a volunteer. She is an advocate at heart and was named the Tobacco Policy Advocate of the Year in 2003. Sandy believes public policy is a critical intersection where creating sustainable change around social issues is achieved.
She moved to the Central Ohio area in October of 2003 to pursue a position with Nationwide Children's Hospital and Prevent Child Abuse Ohio. In her role with PCAO, she worked to educate and advocate for the prevention of child abuse and neglect in a variety of settings from local education systems to state elected officials. After her work at PCAO, Sandy moved on to become Health Policy Advocate with Children's Defense Fund Ohio. In her new role, she was responsible for monitoring state and federal legislation; identifying health trends and emerging issues; enhancing relationships with community partners, opinion leaders and state and federal elected officials; and making recommendations for CDF-Ohio's response to critical child health issues.
Since joining Voices, Sandy has focused on building grassroots and grasstops networks of local advocates who care about children. She works with local, state and federal elected officials with regards to public policy impacting Ohio’s children. She specializes in the policy areas of health and early care and education.
Sandy has worked to develop and expand Voices’ annual Regional Children’s Forums, which has grown to 12 events throughout the state. Hundreds of Ohioans involved with issues affecting children and families participate as speakers and valued attendees. In 2011 Sandy was instrumental in coordinating a two-day Children’s Health Conference. More than 100 people attended the Columbus event, participating in round-table discussions and attending presentations on adolescent health, healthy mothers and babies and improving health care in Ohio. Perhaps Sandy’s greatest professional accomplishment with Voices has been Ohio’s passage of Medicaid presumptive eligibility for women and children.
Sandy holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Ohio Valley College. She lives in Columbus with her husband, Patrick, and a daughter, Peyton.
Brandi ScalesDirector of Communications and Policy Associate
A graduate of Columbus School for Girls, Brandi Scales holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Morgan State University (MSU), a Historically Black College in Baltimore. While at MSU, she received her department's award for Leadership and Academic Achievement and served in leadership in many campus organizations, including Student Government Association, ROTC and various others.
Since the completion of her undergraduate studies, she has had diverse professional experiences. Brandi has focused her efforts to children and families, mainly those in the inner city and considered as high-risk youth. She has worked as a group worker in settlement houses in Columbus on the city's Near East Side and Weinland Park community.
She has provided case management services for consumers across the spectrum: children, severally mentally disabled, immigrant and refugee communities and the elderly. In an effort to increase her knowledge of the field, Brandi pursued further studies at The Ohio State University in the College of Social Work Master's program.
Putting her undergraduate education to use, Brandi has served as a Legislative Aide to Ohio Senate Minority Leader, Senator Ray Miller. In this capacity, she staffed the Senate Health and Human Services, Finance, Education and Controlling Board Committees. At the Ohio Department of Health (ODH), she lobbied the state legislature. In addition to the legislation she was assigned, she handled the department’s Controlling Board and JCARR issues. At the Public Children Services Association of Ohio, she advocated for foster care finance reform at the federal level. In addition to administering the grants from the Pew Charitable Trust to the partners of the “Kids Are Waiting Campaign,” she worked on the bi-partisan, bi-cameral Fostering Connections to Success and Improving Adoptions Act (PL 110-35) to increase permanency for children. One of the few laws passed by Congress and signed by the President, PL 110-351 is lauded as the most significant federal child welfare law since 1980, when Title IV-E Adoption Assistance was created. Additionally, she has served as a Legislative Liaison for the Ohio Rehabilitation Services Commission (RSC). RSC is the state agency that partners with Ohioans with disabilities to achieve quality employment, independence and Social Security disability determination outcomes. It is in these capacities that she was instrumental in developing and implementing public policy. While working in these capacities, Brandi earned a Juris Doctor from Capital University Law School with a concentration in Child and Family Law.
Brandi is a wife to Pastor E. LaMarr Scales and a mother of one son, Nicholas. Professionally and personally, she continues to be a voice for those that society often neglects.
Aleksandra PanovskaPolicy and Advocacy Coordinator
A Columbus native, Aleks Panovska graduated from Denison University with a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies and Political Science. Her concentration in Middle Eastern Studies, Aleks has a wealth of knowledge on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and its implications on the greater region. Her education also took her on a journey to Copenhagen, Denmark, where she spent a semester immersing herself in curriculum centered around the European Union and Muslim Diaspora.
Prior to her work at Voices, Aleks served as a Legislative Aide to Ohio House Rep. Ted Celeste (24th District) and former Ohio House Rep. Linda Bolon (1st District). With expertise in public policy research and analysis, Aleks has an intimate understanding of state government through her years of experience advancing legislation on a number of topics.
Aleks played an integral role in the passage of House Bill 96 into law in the 129th General Assembly. The law clarifies the Ohio Revised Code to include dyslexia as a learning disability, establishes a pilot program to screen for dyslexia in children to exhibit risk factors for developing the disability, and provides language-based multisensory intervention services. She also has been involved in advancing bills pertaining to juvenile justice, providing safeguards for children and adults with developmental disabilities, mental health and insurance coverage for children with autism.
Aleks’ family immigrated to the United States from Macedonia, and she credits her multicultural upbringing for shaping the lens through which she sees the world. In particular, it has informed her passion for public service and the importance of benevolence.
Akia WalkerDirector of Administration
Akia Walker serves Voices for Ohio's Children as Director of Administration with many years of experience in accounts payable, accounts receivable, Microsoft Office Applications and a host of other clerical as well administrative skills. Akia is responsible for maintaining personnel records for the organization, managing all logistics for board and committee meetings, and also provides direct support to the Executive Director.
Akia currently resides in Brooklyn with her two daughters, A’keria and Jamari.
Thomas ScheidHealth Policy Consultant
Thomas Scheid brings extensive experience in public policy development and program implementation at state and county levels. His responsibilities with Voices for Ohio's Children are primarily in working with home visiting programs and implementing the Voices for Ohio's Children health care policy agenda.
Tom has held administrative and program development positions in several departments of state government, as well as in county government. He has worked with a focus on Medicaid, early care and education and developmental disabilities. As a former director within a large Job and Family Services agency, and active involvement with the Ohio Job and Family Services Directors' Association, he has an in-depth understanding of what it takes to implement human services programs.
Tom serves on several boards and advisory groups, including the Help Me Grow Rule Revision Leadership Team and Early Childhood Finance Workgroup, and as treasurer for Early Care and Learning. He is a founding member and board member for the Clintonville Rotary and serves as coordinator for the Small Business Network on Health Care.
Tom holds a master's degree in education research and design from The Ohio State University. He and his wife live in Columbus, and the family includes six grown children.