Atkins becomes first black woman to serve on Henrico School Board

George Copeland Jr. | 11/8/2019, 6 a.m.
The Henrico School Board is set to welcome its first female African-American member.

The Henrico School Board is set to welcome its first female African-American member.

Alicia S. Atkins was elected to represent the Varina District Tuesday night, a historic addition in a night of changes for the county’s education board.

Ms. Atkins was among four African-American candidates — all women — vying for the seat following the retirement announcement of John W. Montgomery Jr., who has represented the district since 2008 and currently serves as board chair.

Ms. Atkins will take office in January.

With nearly 17,000 votes cast, Ms. Atkins claimed a sizable win with 44.65 percent of the vote over Joyce L. Davis, Michelle Roots Henderson and Kandise N. Lucas.

Ms. Davis garnered 23.23 percent of the vote, while Ms. Henderson received 20.78 percent, followed by Ms. Lucas with 10.35 percent.

In a phone interview Wednesday, Ms. Atkins said her win was the result of an “invested” community and diverse, enthusiastic campaign workers.

“This historic moment is monumental not just because of me, but because it reflects that the engagement, the involvement and commitment came from people of all shapes, sizes, colors and ages,” she said.

A volunteer with the PTA and Meals on Wheels, Ms. Atkins built her campaign around the slogan “Let’s FACE the Future Together.” She has promised to study the factors surrounding student achievement, work for policy changes on Standards of Learning tests and the school system’s suspension and expulsion rules and to strenghten family engagement with the school system.

She said her priority on Day 1 is a discussion among board members about relationship building and communicating with the community.

Ms. Atkins will join newly elected representatives from the Brookland and Tuckahoe districts who also won open seats — Kristi Briggs Kinsella and Marcie F. Shea, respectively.

Incumbents the Rev. Roscoe D. Cooper III of the Fairfield District and Michelle F. “Micky” Ogburn of the Three Chopt District won new four-year terms on the School Board.

Rev. Cooper won 64.43 percent of the vote over challenger Keith W. Hicks, who received 34.98 percent of the vote.