Congratulations to Jennifer McClellan who was sworn into office on Tuesday. Our new Congresswoman is the first African-American woman to represent the Commonwealth in Washington, DC. Jenn’s commitment to public service and her years of effort in the Virginia General Assembly have prepared her well for her new role as our Representative for the 4th Congressional District.
I know that Jenn will represent both her constituents and all Virginians with dedication and a continued focus on the issues that face us today: strengthening public education, protecting women’s health care, securing voting rights, promoting social justice, and so much more. Virginia is fortunate indeed to have a strong, compassionate, and engaged voice in Congress.
Superintendent Balow’s Resignation
On March 1, Virginians received news that the Superintendent of Public Instruction had submitted her letter of resignation. The Governor has not clarified whether he requested the resignation, or if Superintendent Jillian Balow made the decision herself. Today, March 9, is her last day in office; this sudden departure leaves the Department of Education in further disarray.
Over the past year, as Superintendent Balow sought to implement Youngkin’s education policies, we have seen many disruptions and roadblocks to our efforts to impact student learning outcomes, recruit and retain teachers, reduce classroom sizes, and support vulnerable students. Among the numerous disruptions have been the highly-criticized “teacher tip line,” the $201 million “calculation error” in public education funding, the debacle in the process and procedure for drafting new history and social studies standards of learning, and a relentless effort to demonize LGBTQ+ students, including attempts to withdraw protections for transgender students.
I join others throughout Virginia, including the Virginia Education Association, in calling on the Governor to appoint a Superintendent of Public Instruction who has
The position of Superintendent of Public Instruction is one of the most important in a governor’s administration. Our children and our schools deserve strong and committed leadership
Tomorrow: Gun Violence Forum
Tragically, it's hard to find any family in America that has not been affected by gun violence. One of my own earliest memories is that of a young friend (5 years old) shot and killed accidentally by her cousin as they played with an unsecured handgun. I've lost a friend who purchased and used a gun on himself while suffering from deep depression. And I've struggled to comfort dear friends who have had loved ones killed or wounded in acts of violence.
Tomorrow, I will be participating in a forum hosted by the Richmond Peace Education Center alongside Lori Haas and Dr. Ram Bhagat to discuss current efforts to address gun violence within our communities, from the local to the state level. I hope that you will join us. Register here.
Opportunities for Community Engagement and Leadership Development
A variety of community engagement and leadership opportunities are highlighted below:
10th Annual Diaper Drive
Families First and Infant & Toddler Connection of Chesterfield are hosting the 10th annual diaper drive. Diaper sizes 5, 6, and 7 are especially in demand. This year, organizers are hoping to break a new record with a goal of collecting 55,000 diapers to distribute to families in need. Residents can drop-off baby diapers and wipes at the following locations:
Businesses, groups, and organizations should contact Ashley Rogers, Families First Program Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org or Leslie Pakula, Infant Program Manager, at email@example.com to arrange a time to drop-off their donations in-person. More information is available at Chesterfield County.
The Sorenson Institute’s High School Leaders Program
The Sorensen Institute of the University of Virginia is now accepting applications for the High School Leaders Program (HSLP). Participants develop professional and leadership skills, as well as learn how local and state governments function, and how public policy is shaped. The 2023 HSLP will be held at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, July 15 - July 29. Additional information about the program and the application process is here. The deadline to apply is March 20.
My Chesterfield Academy
Chesterfield County, in partnership with the Asian and Latino Solidarity Alliance of Central Virginia (ALSACV), is hosting My Chesterfield Academy, a program designed to empower residents from multicultural communities in navigating local government programs and resources. Program participants have the opportunity to tour county facilities, meet with government and school officials, and identify county services. Sessions will be held on Tuesdays, 9:30am - 2:30pm, April 25 - December 21. More information about the program is available here.
Summer Teachers Institutes with the Virginia Museum of History and Culture
The Virginia Museum of History and Culture is hosting the Summer Teachers Institute to support professional development for educators: Story of Virginia and Our Commonwealth. Stipends and travel scholarships are available. The VMHC’s full calendar of events highlights additional opportunities.
Community Events and Meetings
Last Thursday, I was privileged to meet with Tom Stumm and his loving family. Despite suffering a traumatic brain injury at a young age, Tom has worked for the federal government, written numerous articles, and been a vibrant member of the communities in which he’s lived. However, his family has struggled to navigate a healthcare system that offers little support to those with such injuries. Together with his family and administrators at the assisted living facility that supports Tom, I discussed potential legislation to help reduce the obstacles for families seeking assistance with loved ones living with traumatic brain injuries.
On Thursday evening, I spoke with members of the Richmond City Democratic Committee and provided highlights of the 2023 General Assembly session. Our conversation included legislative successes and priorities, as well as an update on budget negotiations.
On Friday morning, I provided remarks on the General Assembly session’s impact on education at the Recognizing Children’s Gifts (RCG) Behavioral Health Network Conference in Richmond. I applaud the efforts of these educators and administrators from across the Commonwealth who are focused on serving students with special needs in our education systems.
Later on Friday, I traveled to Falls Church to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Edu-Futuro, a nonprofit organization focused on providing services to immigrant students and their families. Organizations such as Edu-Futuro fill critical roles within our communities, connecting people with resources and opportunities while also developing future leaders and professionals. We were inspired by the personal story and the dedication of the gala’s keynote speaker: Sheriff Jose Quiroz (Arlington County).
This weekend, I joined community members in Monroe Park for Mobile Soul Sunday, the launch of the 7th Annual Richmond Black Restaurant Experience. Forty-four businesses are participating in this year’s festivities; all are either Black-owned restaurants, catering businesses, food trucks, or feature Black chefs. Sunday’s Mobile Soul was a perfect feature of a beautiful and sunny weekend.
Connecting With My Office
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call our office at 804-698-7510. If you were forwarded this email, you can sign up to receive my office’s weekly newsletter here.