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Nurse among YWCA honorees

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Fonda Elliot is accustomed to working in the background, making life better for others.

However, on March 8, she will be among four women in the limelight to be honored at the 17th annual YWCA Women of Achievement Awards luncheon. The event is set for noon to 1:30 p.m. at Embassy Suites.

"I was very surprised and, of course, very honored," Elliot said of the award. "The women who have gone before were a great group of women. To be honored by an organization like the Y is very special."

The women selected as this year's honorees have been recognized for their respective talents and setting examples for future generations.

Elliot, a registered nurse, held an important role in launching a health care business that now includes 11 long-term care and rehabilitation nursing centers throughout West Virginia. As executive vice president of American Medical Facilities Management, she managed the Quality Assurance Program of the family business that has garnered national recognition for its care.

Her husband, John, started the business in 1982. As an architect, he had designed similar facilities for clients and eventually decided to go into the business himself. They were living in Cleveland when the first AMFM facility opened in Summers County. The couple moved to West Virginia in 1989.

The number of facilities has continued to grow over the years along with staff.

"We are very passionate about quality and educating our employees," Fonda Elliot said. "Our front-line caregivers are very dedicated to quality care. Even with 1,000 employees, there is a tight-knit family feeling."

She and her husband, along with some employees, earned bachelor's degrees in Health Services Administration from West Virginia Institute of Technology.

In the late 1990s, the building at the corner of Capitol and Lee streets was purchased to serve as a permanent home for the offices of AMFM, Inc. What some may remember as the old Coyle and Richardson Department Store became Capitol Conference Center. The center may be rented for functions and meetings. AMFM employees gather there for ongoing educational classes as well as to network and support each other.

Elliot, 66, retired five years ago from the business but remains active in community works and enjoys family time.

Fonda and John Elliot have two grown sons, Gregory and Andrew, who are involved in the family business. They also have three grandchildren.

Fonda Elliot currently serves on the board for Charleston Area Medical Center and the YWCA, where she led the development of the Shanklin Center that provides housing for victims of elder abuse.

She has previously served on numerous other boards including the American Cancer Society, West Virginia Alzheimer's Association, Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences, and the University of Charleston.

She believes it is important to make contributions that make the community a better place.

"It's important for everyone to be part of the community and do what they can to make it as vibrant as possible whether it is volunteering or writing a check," she said.

She also emphasizes that YWCA programs are powerful and helpful for many.

Three other women will also be honored at the luncheon.

Mary Stanley was the first woman to be appointed as a U.S. magistrate judge for the federal courts in West Virginia. She was also the first woman to be appointed as an assistant U.S. attorney in the state.

Mary Johnson moved to Charleston with her family in 2004 after their home in New Orleans had been burglarized three times in five years. Initially, she and her husband, along with their six children, stayed at YWCA Sojourner's Shelter for Homeless Women and Families. Mary went on to earn an associate degree in nursing and establish her own business in home health care.

Patricia Kusimo is an author, teacher and leader in education. She is president and chief executive officer of The Education Alliance and is a founding member of Maximizing the Achievement of African American Children in Kanawha County.

Tickets to the luncheon are $75 each and are 75 percent tax-deductible. Proceeds go to benefit YWCA programs. Reservations are preferred. Go to or call 304-340-3557.

Contact writer Charlotte Ferrell Smith at or 304-348-1246.


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