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Askwith Essentials: Who is Anne Holton?

What you should know about about the Virginia Board of Education member before the Askwith Forum on March 6.

Education Leadership

Anne Holton

Prior to her recent appointment, Holton served as the Virginia Secretary of Education. During her tenure, she led efforts to increase financial support of Virginia’s K–12 and higher education systems, overhauled high school graduation requirements, pushed to expand computer science curricula in high schools, and reformed Virginia’s onerous standardized testing mandates. Prior to that, she directed the Great Expectations program that supported foster youth as they made their way through community college.

Before stepping down as secretary, she told Virginia’s General Assembly that the “trifecta” of challenges facing Virginia public education are rising poverty rates, higher achievement expectations, and decreased levels of funding.

Child Welfare Advocacy

Holton has also been a consistent advocate in the child welfare and foster care spheres. From 1998 to 2005, she was a judge for the Richmond Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court, serving as chief judge for part of her tenure. Married to former Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, as first lady, Holton worked with child service agencies to increase the number of foster children entering permanent family arrangements, leading a number of initiatives to promote collaboration across the entire sector.

A Life in the Public Eye

Holton stepped down as secretary of education to support Kaine when he secured the Democratic Party’s vice-presidential nomination in the 2016 presidential election. Holton and Kaine met while studying together at Harvard Law School. Political life is not new for Holton: the daughter of former governor A. Linwood Holton, she and her sister attended the historically all-black Mosby Middle School once Richmond City public schools were desegregated. Her three children also attended Richmond public schools. She is the only person to live in the Virginia Governor’s Mansion as both the child and spouse of a governor.

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