CHARLESTON, WV (LOOTPRESS) – Homeland Security Secretary Jeff Sandy has selected his department’s first Chief Hearing Examiner, to oversee a new approach to addressing and resolving personnel and other administrative matters.
Brandolyn N. Felton-Ernest joined Homeland Security earlier this month to lead its Office of Administrative Hearings, created through last year’s legislation revamping the Cabinet department.
The Office of Administrative Hearings has jurisdiction to hear and determine all initial grievance proceedings for all divisions of the department except the W.Va. State Police. It also receives appeals from State Fire Commission decisions or orders, unless state law specifies otherwise. It further provides a method for addressing other matters within the department for which a hearing examiner is necessary.
Felton-Ernest previously handled employee grievances before the W.Va. Public Employees Grievance Board as an assistant attorney general for the Department of Health and Human Resources. As an assistant attorney general, she also appeared before the W.Va. Supreme Court in juvenile abuse and neglect appeals.
Felton-Ernest’s tenure at the Attorney General’s Office also included workers’ compensation claims litigation at its Workers’ Compensation Litigation Division. Her government service has included workers’ compensation claims settlements at the W.Va. Offices of the Insurance Commissioner as associate counsel. As such, she was certified by the International Commission of Health Care Certification as West Virginia’s first Medicare Set-aside Certified Consultant.
A graduate of West Virginia University’s College of Law, Felton-Ernest earned bachelor’s degrees in both political science and psychology at Georgia State University, where she graduated with honors. Admitted to the W.Va. State Bar in 2007, Felton-Ernest is also a member of the Mountain State Bar Association, is trained as a mediator through the State Bar and has been a speaker at several Continuing Legal Education seminars.
The 2020 reorganization legislation renamed the department from Military Affairs and Public Safety, as it also established the W.Va. National Guard as a separate, stand-alone Cabinet-level entity.