By Latavia Taylor
A 2004 graduate of James Madison University, Levar Stoney is a living inspiration. After completing his undergraduate degree in political science, he attended the Virginia Commonwealth University Minority Political Leadership Institute, finishing in 2006.
Currently sworn as the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Virginia, since January of 2015, Stoney has made tremendous strides. Not only has he broken racial barriers, by becoming the first African American to be Secretary of the Commonwealth, he is also presently the youngest affiliate of Governor McAuliffe’s cabinet. Such accomplishments define Stoney’s success and offers inspiration for individuals of all ages and backgrounds.
Before he became Secretary of the Commonwealth, Stoney was closely involved with the election campaigns of Terry McAuliffe. During this period he obtained the title of Deputy Campaign Manager for the 2013 gubernatorial election, and he continued to set records as he was the youngest state executive director of the Democratic party in the United States.
In line with the mission of Gemeinschaft Home, Levar Stoney’s attitude and motivation to reach above and beyond the “status quo,” to achieve something greater, offers encouragement to individuals who have experienced hardships and substantial setbacks, giving them a sense of hope and a desire to persevere. We extend our gratitude to Levar Stoney who has accepted our invitation to give the keynote address during our annual banquet next April.
Board member Kay Knickrehm initially approached Stoney about speaking at the event, because of his heavy involvement with reforming policies that concern restoring citizen rights for ex-offenders. Stoney’s continuous work to help a population that is oftentimes overlooked and disregarded resonates loudly with the goals of Gemeinschaft Home.
In October of 2015, Governor McAuliffe assigned Stoney to lead Virginia’s efforts to streamline the process of restoring voting rights for convicted felons who have completed their prison sentence. He also co-chairs the governor’s commission that will review the Commonwealth’s policy on parole. Stoney emphasizes that, “We put ourselves up to be a first-class state, yet we have one of the highest rates of second-class citizens—one of the highest rates of disenfranchisement.”
The banquet will raise funds for the organization as a whole, assisting with basic resident expenses, building improvements, and future projects. It will take place on April 22, 2016, at Park View Mennonite Church, in Harrisonburg.
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