When she was four years old, Senator Ghazala Hashmi immigrated with her mother and older brother from India to the United States; they joined her father in Georgia just as he was completing his doctoral work in international relations and beginning his university teaching career. Ghazala grew up in that small college town, at a time when public schools were being desegregated. She saw firsthand how communities can be built and dialogue promoted through intentional efforts to bridge cultural, racial, and socioeconomic divisions. Ghazala earned a BA in English from Georgia Southern University and a PhD in American literature from Emory University in Atlanta.
Ghazala and her husband moved as newlyweds to the Richmond area in 1991, and she spent nearly 30 years as professor, teaching first at the University of Richmond and then at Reynolds Community College. While at Reynolds, she also served as the Founding Director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL). She and Azhar have two adult daughters who were both born and raised in Midlothian, completed their K-12 education in Chesterfield County Public Schools, and attended Virginia public institutions of higher education.
First elected to office in November 2019, Senator Ghazala Hashmi represented the 10th Senatorial District within the Virginia General Assembly, which included parts of Richmond City, Chesterfield County, and all of Powhatan County. As a result of state-wide redistricting in 2021, Senator Hashmi is seeking reelection in the new 15th Senatorial District in the November 2023 elections. This new Senate district includes parts of the City of Richmond and Chesterfield County. She is the first Muslim and the first South Asian American to serve in the Virginia Senate.
Senator Hashmi serves as the Chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Public Education, and she sits on the following Senate committees: Education and Health; Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources; General Laws and Technology; and Local Government. As an experienced educator and advocate of inclusive values and social justice, she identifies education, equity, the environment, and healthcare access as top legislative priorities.