Starla Kiser

Starla Kiser


Current Position: Founder, Healios Health
Affiliation: Democrat
Candidate: 2019 State Delegate



Starla is originally from Dante, VA in Dickenson County. She grew up on a farm with three sisters. Her father was a public school teacher, bus driver, and farmer, and her mother was a stay-at-home mom before working as a communications assistant at AT&T.  She attended Ervinton High School and East Tennessee State University. Starla worked with a local NASA program in Wise County as an undergraduate which led to work at other NASA programs across the country including the NASA Astrobiology Academy in California. She did research in space medicine in Russia, France, and Silicon Valley and studied humanities in the Netherlands before attending medical school.

These unique opportunities allowed Starla to move to Boston and receive two degrees from Harvard. She received a medical degree at Harvard Medical School, and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration at the Harvard Kennedy School, studying international development and health policy. She did her medical residency training at Boston Children’s Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. She is board-certified in both Internal Medicine and Pediatrics. 

Starla has done work in global health, primary care, and service delivery innovation, in Tanzania, Kenya, South Sudan, India, and rural Appalachia. She has a non-profit, Healios Foundation, that helps invest in high-impact entrepreneurs and organizations in developing countries and underserved areas in the U.S., and promotes economic innovation in rural areas. Through this foundation, she helped create a primary school for children in South Sudan.

She worked in clinical innovation at Iora Health and Harken Health, an innovative primary care start-up, creating and directing wellness and disease management programs for a large population in Chicago, Illinois. 

After Harken Health closed in 2017, Starla decided to take the lessons she learned and move back home to create her own business and innovation lab in Southwest Virginia. She developed Healios Health, an innovative direct primary care and employer-based clinic. Her clinic was designed to serve patients who were uninsured in Virginia before Medicaid expanded in 2019. With the expansion of Medicaid, she is transitioning her business to focus on building medical software. Starla also worked with local female entrepreneurs to create Appalachian Women Entrepreneurs- a newly formed organization to support young women to become entrepreneurs in the region.

Starla believes in the expansion of medication-assisted treatment for those with opioid addiction, and has worked for over a year at the Dickenson County Behavioral Health Center- treating individuals in the county with opioid addiction. She is also working with her sister, CEO of a company and organization, IMPERFKT Foundation, on projects to support mental health in the region, while also promoting the arts, tourism, and economic development in SWVA. 


Work Experience





Campaign Site, Facebook, Instagram






Increasing Patient Choice.

Black Lung

Expanding Substance Use Treatment.

Increase Access to Mental Health Treatment. 



Gun Safety



This area does not need handouts. What we really want, what we really need are good jobs. We want to provide for our families, and ensure our children have a bright future. It wasn’t long ago we could depend on the coal industry to offer our miners a good living.

We must continue to support our coal miners and keep our coal jobs. We also need to look to the future and make coal valuable again. We need to create innovative ways to utilize and commercialize our assets, including coal and our farming land and natural resources, while ensuring we keep the wealth in SWVA (e.g. coal to graphene).

As we support our farmers and coal miners, Southwest Virginia must attract new industries, like our neighbors have done in Kentucky and Tennessee. We can use multiple avenues including tax-based incentives, and ensuring sites are ready for development. We need to creatively reuse our abandoned mine land. We need to incentivize young professionals who have left the area to come back to live and build businesses. We must also continue to support our schools, and ensure access to high-speed internet, which are necessities for attracting industry.

We must support our small business owners, and provide opportunities for our young people to become entrepreneurs. We should also support research and development in areas including clean and renewable energies, so that SWVA can become a hotbed of innovation in this and other areas.

Our state and local leader’s primary focus should be on bringing jobs to SWVA. Although the economy is booming on the coasts and in the cities, our communities continue to be left behind. We cannot be complacent. We will not be able to thrive as long as our brightest residents have to leave the area to make a living. Our residents will continue to be sicker if their families cannot find jobs. Our young people will continue to be affected by opioid addiction if we do not give them hope from a young age that they can live out their life’s purpose and make a decent living in SWVA.


Our greatest asset is our people, particularly our young people. With higher poverty rates, fewer resources, and the lowest paid teachers in the state, our students consistently score high on standards of learning exams (#1 in math, science, and reading) and rank in the top 10-20% in the state, while succeeding in areas like robotics. We cannot afford to lose these gains, but must support our teachers with higher pay and ensure our schools get the funding and resources they need to further prepare our youth for jobs in the 21st century.

Right now, our best and brightest seemingly have no choice but to leave SWVA to find jobs or further their education. We need to try everything possible to create jobs and opportunities so our students can stay, and offer incentives for those who have left to come back to the area and contribute to the SWVA economy. We need to offer more training programs for students in high school that allow them to graduate directly to jobs, and also enhance our area’s technical education. We need to keep our Job Corps Program.

We need to formalize the untapped skills of our unemployed workers and coal miners, giving them certificates for skills they already have so they can obtain jobs, and so our area can attract more industry. We need to offer shorter-term training and certificate programs at our community colleges for our citizens of any age to learn relevant skills including coding, software and web development, and other skills that are important to succeed in today’s technology jobs. We need to support these STEM jobs, while also promoting the arts and provide ways our area artisans, musicians and creatives can work together, expand their reach, and sell their products online all across the country.

We need to realize the potential of our area colleges, including the University of Virginia’s College at Wise, Emory and Henry, and our great community colleges, law and pharmacy schools, and also expand post-graduate education.

My primary focus is on jobs and the economy, and we cannot successfully attract industry without making sure we are adequately preparing our students. The intellect and adaptability of our students is already here, but we must do our part to ensure our students are putting the most relevant tools in their toolbox to contribute to the 21st century economy.


Health Care

I have been thankful to see so many of my patients now have access to health care with Virginia’s expansion of Medicaid. As a doctor, I have thought a lot about health care in our region. These are some of the ideas to increase access to quality health care in SWVA.

Increasing Patient Choice

Southwest Virginians need access to quality health care. We also need choice. Research has shown us that health care monopolies increase costs for patients, and also affect quality of care. We need to make sure our citizens do not have to drive hours to obtain emergency health services, or pay higher and higher prices for lower quality treatment- even when they have insurance. We need to push for price transparency in health care and publicly report and rank our health systems on quality and cost including percentage of administrative/wasted costs.

We need to dramatically improve health care quality in the area by supporting health development zones and pilot innovative projects in the SWVA region, including support for Medicaid/Medicare value-based health care initiatives. We need to get our citizens access to standards of care, including setting up our own telemedicine Centers of Excellence so our citizens can access top quality evidence-based specialty care all across the country.

We also need to be creative about attracting new providers to the area through scholarship and loan forgiveness programs, and also support independent practitioners and health systems in the area.

Black Lung

We must support our miners to receive black lung benefits, and ensure patients with black lung receive adequate specialty care. We must support research in advanced black lung and access to the latest treatment options.

Expanding Substance Abuse Treatment

I have been providing addiction treatment in Dickenson County for over a year. Our counties have high rates of opioid addiction and overdoses per capita, yet there are few providers offering addiction treatment. We have to get rid of the stigma, and ensure our neighbors, family, and friends get the help they need. Virginia has been at the forefront of ensuring Medicaid provides coverage for opioid treatment.

We need to further expand medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid addiction and expand harm reduction policies. Learning from other states, we can create hub-and-spoke models that create a cohesive ecosystem for addiction treatment, increasing MAT access in primary care with referrals to these specialty addiction centers. We need to increase the number of step-down and intensive outpatient programs that offer residents concentrated treatment outside of our limited number of detox/rehab centers.

Like other states, we need to support challenges and fund innovative programs that are creating next generation opioid treatments, including digital therapies and rehab at home programs. We also need to digitally map our current MAT providers, and make it easily accessible to patients.

Increasing Access to Mental Health Treatment

SWVA is in dire need of adequate mental health treatment. Patients with severe mental health issues have difficulty seeing a psychiatrist and getting appropriate treatment. We need to attract more psychiatrists to the area, ensure area psychiatrists and behavioral health practitioners receive adequate insurance reimbursement so they see our patients with Medicaid, and increase support to our community behavioral health centers. We need to expand psychiatric step-down programs, increase the quality of our inpatient psychiatric facilities, and overall push to innovate in psychiatric care and behavioral health in Virginia, bringing it into the the 21st century. We need to work on the stigma surrounding mental health diagnoses, and ensure our local and state policies treat mental health patients compassionately- like they treat all other patients and citizens in the area.


Gun Safety


It is settled Constitutional law that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to possess a firearm, unconnected with service in a militia, for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.
The Second Amendment was authored by James Madison who is considered the father of the Constitution. The Commonwealth of Virginia has played a prominent role in protecting the individual rights of our citizens. In the Heller case, the Supreme Court held that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms for self-defense.

District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008).



The Supreme Court has also stated that the right to bear arms is not unlimited and that guns and gun ownership would continue to be regulated. I believe that any regulation should be based upon an effort to strengthen the rights of law abiding citizens to enjoy the freedoms set forth in our Constitution. The law allows those who have been convicted of violent crimes and felonies to be barred from ownership from firearms. I believe that those committing crimes by the use or possession of a firearm need to be punished strongly so that sportsmen and law abiding citizens may continue to enjoy their freedoms unfettered by regulation.


I share the position of the NRA and other gun owner support groups in supporting consistent gun laws throughout the Commonwealth. We do not need a “patchwork” of local and/or municipal laws regulating the ownership and use of firearms. A citizen of Virginia should be able to educate themselves concerning the laws of Virginia and feel confident in exercising their rights to bear arms consistently throughout the Commonwealth.


I believe that existing shooting ranges should be exempt to regulation from any zoning or noise ordinance based upon encroaching population. It is my position that moving near an existing shooting range is analogous to moving next to an airport.


I believe that sportsmen should be able to hunt on both public and private lands on Sunday.


I would support the manufacture of firearms and military grade weapon systems in Southwest Virginia. The workforce of our region consists of many dedicated and trained workers who would benefit from the manufacture of firearms and weapons in our region.


I am convinced that a law abiding gun owner can withstand the scrutiny of a background check to ensure that firearms do not fall into the hands of violent felons or terrorists. I believe that requiring background checks for gun purchases at gun shows and other public events where guns may be sold in large numbers will further protect our rights to bear arms and increase the safety of our state.


You will need to Become a Hub member to participate in any Hub forum.  – it’s free. If you have a specific topic you would like to discuss, send your request to this post’s curator. We encourage civil and honest discourse and do not permit harassment or threats to personal safety.

Home Forums Open Discussion

Viewing 0 reply threads
  • Author
    • #15805
      Todd Gillette

      This is an open discussion on the content in this post.

Viewing 0 reply threads
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.


The lead Curator for this post is Tim O'Shea. If you have any content you would like to add to this post, submit it to  See Terms of Service to learn about the guidelines curators use to evaluate submissions and forum comments.

Any viewer can submit a question, suggestion, and/or endorsement for possible inclusion in this post and conveyance to the appropriate person(s) mentioned in the post.

Skip to toolbar