Gov. Northam appoints 'diversity czar,' boards in upholding promise after blackface scandal

Jeremy M. Lazarus | 9/13/2019, 6 a.m.
Dr.Janice Underwood will be the state’s first “diversity czar.”
Dr. Underwood

The board grew out of legislation that Henrico Delegate Lamont Bagby, chair of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, introduced in January before the photo scandal broke and that assumed greater importance after the scandal.

Delegate Bagby, at the time, called the “cre- ation of this board far overdue. Establishing the board through legislative action will ensure that the African-American community has a perma- nent voice in the state’s executive branch.”

Gov. Northam signed the legislation in March and named the 18 members just before the Labor Day holiday.

The appointees also include: The Rev. Cozy Bailey of Dumfries, president of the Prince William County NAACP; Xavier L. Beale of Smithfield, vice president of trades for Newport News Shipbuilding; Gilbert T. Bland of Virginia Beach, president and chief executive officer of the Urban League of Hampton Roads, who will serve as chair of the advisory board; and Norfolk Police Chief Larry D. Boone.

Also, Zyahna Bryant of Charlottesville, a University of Virginia student; Hope F. Cupit of Bedford, president and chief executive officer of the Southeast Rural Community Assistance Project Inc.; Keren Charles Dongo of Alexandria, state director for U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine; and Dr. Ingrid Granberry Grant of Chesterfield, Henrico Public Schools’lead director of school leadership and director of middle school education.

Also, Teri Helenese of Loudoun, Washing- ton representative and director of state-federal relations for the governor of the Virgin Islands; Gaylene Kanoyton of Hampton, president of Cel- ebrate Healthcare and first vice chair of the state Democratic Party and president of the Hampton Branch NAACP; and Yvonne J. Lewis, Virginia Beach community and social activist.

Also, Dr. Monica Motley of Danville, founder and chief executive officer of The Motley Consulting Group and a faculty member at the Virginia Teach Center for Public Health Practice and Research; Precious Rasheeda Muhammad of Suffolk, an independent scholar; Cameron D. Patterson of Farmville, managing director of the Robert Russa Moton Museum of Civil Rights; Monica L. Reid of Alexandria, director of advocacy for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers; Yvette G. Robinson of Petersburg, retired agriculture professor at Virginia State University; and Van C. Wilson of Glen Allen, associate vice chancellor of the Virginia Community College System.

The governor credited the formation of the legal commission to two other members of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, Delegate Marcia Price of Newport News and state Sen. Lionel Spruill Sr. of Chesapeake, who pushed the idea in the recent session.

The legal commission’s members, who were named Sept. 3, also include: Cynthia Hudson of Richmond, chief deputy attorney general, who will serve as chair; Andrew Block of Charlottesville, an attorney and former director of the Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice; Henry L. Chambers Jr. of Henrico, a professor at the University of Richmond Law School; and Jill Hanken of Richmond, an attorney and health law specialist for the Virginia Poverty Law Center.

Also, Carla Jackson of Chesterfield, assistant commissioner for legal affairs with the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles; Judge Jerrauld Jones, chief judge of the Norfolk Circuit Court; and Leslie Chambers Mehta of Chesterfield, chief of staff and legal counsel to the chief executive officer of the Richmond Metropolitan Transportation Authority.