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.