Team Projects

2020 Minority Political Leadership Institute Team Projects Presentations

November 20, 2020 
1:00 - 4:00 PM 
Omni Richmond
100 S 12th St., Richmond, VA 23219

Team Projects

Each year, Minority Political Leadership Institute program participants work on project teams to advance the understanding of issues facing underserved communities in Virginia. The team project experience facilitates experiential learning of politics in action to garner networks, contacts, and resources for effective information sharing, collaboration, and decision-making. The diverse nature of the teams provides excellent opportunities for learning new perspectives and networking across Virginia, which assists participants in identifying cutting-edge solutions that fit the community’s needs. Projects teams also provide a venue for applying new skills, developing creative strategies for solving problems, as well as a laboratory for working on diverse teams.

Since 2012, Minority Political Leadership Institute program participants have worked on projects designed to examine the racial impact of proposed or passed legislation from the General Assembly. The purpose of this analysis is to examine how specific legislation promotes or reduces racial/ethnic disparities on minority communities within the Commonwealth of Virginia. Projects seek to answer the ways in which the policy:

a) enhances racial disparities;

b) reduces racial disparities; and/or

c) will have racial/ethnic impact?

Conducting legislative racial impact analysis is an important tool in examining the effects of public policy on minority communities in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

2018 Team Projects

HB 69 Grocery Investment Program and Fund


Taryn Anthony, Internal Policies and Procedures Specialist, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated
Tracey Dunn, Field Operations SpecialistUS Department of Housing & Urban Development
Stephen Miller-Pitts, Contracting Specialist, Department of Defense
Grant Rissler, Assistant Director, Office of Public Policy Outreach, Virginia Commonwealth University
Barbara Williams-Lewis, Administrative Assistant, Altria, LLC

In the 2018 session of the Virginia General Assembly, multiple pieces of legislation were brought to committee, proposing the creation of a fund to catalyze public-private partnerships to expand access to Virginians residing in food deserts. Through the creation of the fund, underserved communities would see the construction, rehabilitation and expansion of food retailers in their communities ameliorate food desserts.  


SB 909/HB 1408 Virginia Fair Housing Law; unlawful discriminatory housing practices


Saman Aghaebrahim, Special Assistant, Office of the Governor of Virginia
Erica Brown-Meredith, Assistant Professor, Longwood University
Tarik Claiborne, Regional Portfolio Manager, Virginia Housing Development Authority
Danielle Richardson, Deputy Clerk, Loudon County General District Court
Kera Woodard, Equal Employment Opportunity Program Specialist, Virginia Department of Human Resource Management

This report provides a legislative racial impact analysis of Senate Bill (SB) 909, a proposed bill in the Virginia General Assembly, to expand the Virginia Fair Housing Law to include lawful sources of income. Specifically, this report examines state and county source of income laws and their variances by race and ethnicity.


SB 106 Congressional and state legislative districts; standards and criteria


Amber Adams, Internal Audit Supervisor, Virginia Housing Development Authority
Kristen Dahlman, Senior Policy Analyst, Virginia Department of Housing & Community Development
John Darnell Hicks, Counselor, Southside Virginia Community College
Cassandra Reynolds, Senior Pro Bono Coordinator, Hunton Andrew & Kurth LLP
Vanessa Walker Harris, Director, Office of Family Health Services, Virginia Department of Health

This report examines Senate Bill (SB) 106, introduced during the 2018 Virginia General Assembly session to address the criterion of redistricting and the specific impact on racial and ethnic minorities. This legislation is a direct response to previous legislative attempts to address gerrymandering and remains an evolving issue in the Commonwealth.

2016 Team Projects

HB 834/SB 449 Virginia Growth & Opportunity Act

Download Project PDF


Chika Anyadike, Legislative Aide, Virginia General Assembly/House of Delegates
Saajida Chohan, Assistant Professor of English, John Tyler Community College
Ericka Hairston, Assistant Hall Director, Virginia Commonwealth University
Lynette Plummer, Executive Assistant to the Attorney General and Chief Deputy Attorney General, Office of the Attorney General
Anita Yearwood, Conference and Marketing Coordinator, Virginia Municipal League

GO Virginia is an economic development initiative that seeks to preempt the harsh effects of federal budget cuts on Virginia’s economy, which is overly dependent on public-sector jobs. It promotes private sector job growth and workforce development through the use of state-based grants to invest in regionally significant capital projects that call for collaboration between localities, businesses, and education. It is important to be intentional in pursuing GO Virginia’s goals, otherwise this legislation may only allocate grants to institutions, organizations, and localities that already have sizeable resources. A critical question rests on how to ensure that low-income and minority communities can maximize the benefits of the legislation. The populations that are most affected by this legislation would depend on how the legislation is implemented. If minority communities are excluded from the process, then it is likely these communities would be insulated from the positive outcomes. It is imperative that minorities are adequately represented in the decision making process. This report explores why minority communities should be represented on the regional councils, which are the catalysts for the proposal process. By being proactive there is an opportunity to provide the same advantages to minority business development. We also explore how to strengthen the minority workforce to better compete for in-demand careers within the emerging industries that this legislation sets out to promote. 


HB 828 Eligibility for TANF, Drug related felonies

Download Project PDF


Greg Hopkins, Community Programs Manager, Department of Justice Services
Carla Jackson, Assistant Commissioner for Legal Affairs, Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles
Rana Wilson, Senior Systems Engineer, CSRA, Inc.
Ramunda Young, Campus and Community Relations/Entrepreneur, Northern Virginia Community College; MahoganyBooks; Ramunda Young, Inc.

House Bill 828 (HB828) was proposed in 2016 to remove the ban on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) for individuals with felony-related drug convictions who are otherwise eligible to receive benefits. The TANF program is designed to help low income families achieve self-sufficiency. States receive block grants to design and operate programs that accomplish one of the purposes of the TANF program: 1) Provide assistance to needy families so children can be cared for in their own homes; 2) Reduce the dependency of parents by promoting job preparation, work, and marriage; 3) Prevent and reduce the incidence of out-of-wedlock pregnancies; 4) Encourage the formation and maintenance of two-parent families (Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, Section 401). With nearly 700,000 people released from state and federal prison each year, access to TANF benefits is particularly critical for helping formerly incarcerated individuals transitioning back to their home communities. Significant disparities in convictions and incarceration coupled with variations in state population between Whites and Nonwhites translate into a disproportionate impact of the felony drug ban (The Sentencing Project, 2015). Virginia is one of 14 states with a full ban on TANF benefits for individuals with felony-related drug convictions. Adoption of HB828 proposes to eliminate this lifetime ban and provide an opportunity for low income families to meet their basic needs during the period in which they are in most need.


SJ 6 Establishment of charter schools in the Commonwealth of Virginia

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Shermese Epps, Legal Assistant, Vince & Vince, LP
Edward Reed, Chief of Staff, Senate of Virginia: Senator Rosalyn Dance
Brenda Sampe, Family Services Supervisor, Chesterfield Colonial Heights Department of Social Services
Germika Pegram, Clinical Supervisor and Agency Clinician, Strategic Youth Services
Courtney Warren, Policy Analyst, Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice

Virginia is facing significant challenges related to public education such as decreased funding for public education, decreased teacher salaries, and overcrowded classrooms. Senate Joint Resolution 6 was a bill proposed in 2016 that sought to grant the Board of Education authority, subject to criteria and conditions prescribed by the General Assembly, to establish charter schools within the school divisions of the Commonwealth. There are racial implications related to the creation and authorization of charter schools and this report details those impacts and creates a set of recommendations to eliminate racial implementations when determining who authorizes charter schools in the Commonwealth of Virginia.