Buckingham County is the geographic center of the Commonwealth of Virginia. It is also my hometown and home to my family’s cattle farm, where we raise natural, grass-fed Black Angus beef. Growing up in this rural county, I learned small town values, the meaning of hard work and the importance of helping others. It was also a great place to learn to be a good steward of the land and our natural resources. As a youth, I was actively involved in many Extension activities that focused on crop production, livestock, home economics and 4-H activities.
After graduating from Buckingham County High School, I attended Virginia Tech where I received a B.A. in Political Science. Additionally, I earned a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree from Syracuse University in 1995. Then I attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where I received a Master of Public Health (MPH) and a Ph.D. in 1998.
I currently serve as the State Director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Rural Development for the Commonwealth of Virginia. In this capacity, I provide executive and policy leadership to this federal agency that works to increase economic opportunity and improve the quality of life in rural Virginia. In FY 2013, USDA-RD/Virginia invested more than $1.3 billion into Virginia’s economy for housing, business development, community facilities, infrastructure and other community development projects. You can learn more about USDA-RD by clicking here.
I am extremely excited to be in the VALOR program because rural Virginia is important to me. It has given me so much by shaping my opinions, ideas and life’s work. I want to give back by promoting, supporting and advocating for rural Virginia, and VALOR provides an ideal venue to do so. Here’s to a great class and a great experience!!!