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  • August 24, 2020 1:16 PM | Jared Calfee (Administrator)

    Remembering the Honorable John H. Hager, 1936-2020

    Virginia21 joins countless others in mourning the loss of former Lt. Governor John H. Hager, who died Sunday, aged 83. John served on the Virginia21 Board of Directors for over a decade as a devoted steward of the organization with a deep commitment to civic engagement, good governance, and the importance of education. He believed in the power of young Virginians and in preparing them to lead. He embodied the mission of Virginia21, and his optimism for the future informed his passion for our work.

    John's life was a remarkable story of determination, as he overcame contracting polio as an adult in 1973 to eventually become Lieutenant Governor of Virginia in 1998, Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services in the U.S. Department of Education in 2004, and Chair of the Republican Party of Virginia in 2007 — as well as an avid wheelchair racer. Additionally, he served on numerous boards and commissions and was one of the Commonwealth's most well-known and well-respected public figures.

    Beyond his many accomplishments, John was one of the finest men you would ever want to meet. He was kind and friendly to everyone, and was always willing to give helpful advice and bits of wisdom from his many years of public service. His politics never impacted how he treated others, and he believed deeply in the tenet of being able to ‘disagree without being disagreeable.’

    John was truly a statesman; we at Virginia21 send our sincere condolences to his family, and join them in mourning the loss of someone we also considered a family member.

    Demas Boudreaux

    Chair, Board of Directors

    Michael Forehand

    Vice-Chair, Board of Directors

    Jared Calfee

    Executive Director

  • June 01, 2020 2:54 PM | Jared Calfee (Administrator)


    None of us have ever lived through a time like this.

    Already in the midst of a global pandemic, the unjust and abhorrent murder of George Floyd has left our country reeling, but has hopefully woken many of us up to the injustices faced every day by Black Americans. Throughout the entire history of this country, Black people have been stepped on by an oppressive white majority. The abolition of slavery and dismantling of the Jim Crow laws left far too many white people falsely believing that racism is a problem of the past. But it’s pretty easy to take a look around you at a world where Breonna Taylor, an EMT putting her life on the line during the COVID-19 pandemic, can be killed while sound asleep in her own home, 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery can be murdered in cold blood while out for a jog, or George Floyd can slowly suffocate with a knee on his throat while begging for his life, and realize that any idea of a “post-racial” America is a nonsensical fantasy. If you somehow find these deadly incidents unconvincing, there is ample statistical evidence demonstrating the disparities faced by African-Americans in employment, our education system, the justice system, and just about every other system you can think of.

    Many well-meaning but naïve white people believe that their only role in fixing these problems is to not be racist themselves. But of course, the problem is far larger than that. The role that racism plays in our society is systemic. And in order to correct that, we have to dismantle and rebuild those broken systems, and we have to do so with an eye towards equity and justice. The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken the very foundations of our society. None of us wanted or asked for this, but it’s happened and disproportionately harmed communities of color - Black and Brown people in particular, and so we should take this rebuilding opportunity to examine the systems we have in place and do all we can to make them more just and equitable.

    Here at Virginia21, our small part in this much larger battle is focusing on equity in higher education. We believe that by prioritizing access and attainment for students of color and other underrepresented groups, we can play a part in making our society as a whole more equitable and more just for everyone here in Virginia.

    It has been the great privilege of my life to serve in this role, and to get to work with the many amazing students who have chosen to get involved with us. It can be hard right now not to see everything in a negative light, but the time I have spent with young people all over this Commonwealth has given me great optimism for the future. When I look at the next generation of leaders here in Virginia, I see kindness, diversity, inclusiveness, and a belief in justice for everyone. I believe our future is bright, but I also believe we have the power to change the present. Young people have a responsibility to demand that their elected officials reflect their values, and they have a responsibility to vote, in every single election, to ensure that we are electing leaders who recognize these problems and are prioritizing equity and justice.

    We can and will make Virginia a better place. It starts today. Let’s all get to work.


    Jared Calfee, Executive Director


1108 East Main Street, Richmond Virginia

(804) 513-VA21 info@virginia21.org

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