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February 25, 2021 | Patrick

Ashley Kenneth

Ashley C. Kenneth is President and CEO at The Commonwealth Institute (TCI). She provides the vision, inspiration, and strategic management to achieve the organization’s goals. Her work and passion to advance racial and economic justice maximizes the impact of TCI’s policy analysis and legislative engagement and strengthens the Institute’s partnerships. Ashley previously worked as Director of Advocacy and Policy for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society where she was responsible for policy development, analysis, and volunteer engagement in Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia. In 2021, Ashley was appointed by Gov. Northam to the Commission to Examine Racial and Economic Inequity in Virginia Law. She is a graduate of the Minority Political Leadership Institute at VCU, as well as the inaugural cohort of the national Fannie Lou Hamer Fellowship program. Ashley has a B.A. in communication and sociology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her master’s degree in social policy was received from the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy and Practice, where she was inducted into the Alumni Hall of Fame in October 2021.
August 6, 2021 | Loryn

Briana Jones

As a research assistant, Briana supports research efforts across all policy areas. She is passionate about working with marginalized communities to advance social equity. She received her B.A. in Public and Urban Affairs with a concentration in Public Policy from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.
February 25, 2021 | Patrick

Brittany Baldwin

Brittany manages and monitors TCI’s grant portfolio by coordinating and contributing to the writing and completion of grant proposals, as well as assisting to increase fundraising and development efforts. Brittany previously worked in grants management and consulting, counseling, and education. In this role, Brittany is able to contribute to multiple initiatives which she feels adhere to the valued principles of humanity for all Virginians and work toward her passions — helping others obtain and maintain quality of life through equitable educational programs, quality health care, and financial sustainability. She graduated with an MBA and Master’s in Professional Counseling from Liberty University and a B.A. in Sociology from James Madison University.
February 25, 2021 | Patrick

Chris Wodicka

Chris focuses on tax policy issues at TCI and helps to support the policy team’s overall analysis and research capacity. His prior experience includes positions at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and with the State of Wisconsin’s Legislative Audit Bureau. He has also worked in schools in Seattle, WA and Pryor, MT. He graduated with an M.P.A. from the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University Bloomington and a B.A. in English from the University of Notre Dame.
February 25, 2021 | Patrick

Freddy Mejia

Freddy Mejia is the Deputy Director of Policy at The Commonwealth Institute, playing a key role in the development and execution of TCI's policy, advocacy, and legislative engagement work.  Freddy leads TCI’s health policy efforts and supports our immigrant justice work. He has partnered with organizations and community members to advance policies related to maternal health, removing barriers to Medicaid for immigrant communities, making ACA marketplace health coverage more accessible and affordable in Virginia, and more. He is part of the 2022 class of the Minority Political Leadership Institute at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) and serves on the Virginia Children's Health Insurance Program Advisory Committee (CHIPAC) and the ChildSavers Community Board. Freddy is the proud son of Salvadoran immigrants and earned his Bachelor of Social Work degree from VCU and a Master of Social Work degree from George Mason University.
February 25, 2021 | Patrick

Kathy Mendes

Kathy contributes across all policy research areas as a policy analyst, and leads TCI’s research on school integration policy. She also supports TCI’s data visualization capacity by thinking creatively about and implementing new ways to present data and information to the public. Born and raised in the state, she is committed to social, economic, and racial justice in Virginia and doing the work to advance it. Prior to joining TCI, Kathy worked in the nonprofit sector with an organization focused on addressing inequality in education, providing daily literacy interventions for students in grades K-3 in Richmond Public Schools. She earned her Bachelor of Science in sociology from Virginia Commonwealth University.
February 23, 2021 | Patrick

Laura Goren

Laura Goren serves as the Research Director at The Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis in Virginia. Laura works to make sure the strongest analysis is being brought to bear on the key issues facing communities of color and low-income families. Laura’s own portfolio includes analyzing macroeconomic conditions in Virginia and safety net programs, conducting analysis to reduce the criminalization of poverty, and executing the Institute’s work to make Virginia more welcoming for immigrants. Outside of paid work, Laura has worked on grassroots social and economic justice campaigns, including successful campus living wage and inclusionary zoning campaigns. Laura previously served as a research assistant at the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, conducting research on housing finance issues.
February 25, 2021 | Patrick

Leigh Anne Collier

Leigh Anne directs TCI’s organizational and issue campaign operations, developing effective issue campaign strategies and driving that work forward. Charged with sustaining a strong infrastructure in order for the Institute’s work to thrive, Leigh Anne infuses innovation and efficiency into all aspects of life at TCI. Prior to joining TCI, Leigh Anne spent 10 years as the co-founder of PoliOps, a firm specializing in operations, data and management consulting for progressive organizations, labor unions and statewide campaigns across the country. A former Executive Director of the Democratic Party of Virginia, Leigh Anne oversaw the political, administrative, fundraising, communications, organizing, and programmatic functions of the organization. She serves on the board of Emerge Virginia, an organization dedicated to increasing the number of women leaders from diverse backgrounds in public office. Leigh Anne has a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Richmond and studied at the Graduate School of Political Management at George Washington University.
January 12, 2022 | Sherri Egerton

Mel Borja

Mel Borja is TCI's Worker Power Policy Analyst. She works to build public knowledge about the benefits of collective bargaining in Virginia and partners with labor advocates to increase public support for strengthening collective bargaining rights at the local and state level. Mel also currently serves as Vice Chair of the Virginia Office of New Americans Advisory Board. Previously, Mel managed the immigration casework portfolio in the Office of U.S. Senator Tim Kaine where she primarily focused on helping New Americans navigate the U.S. immigration system. In addition to legal aid and organizing experience, she has served in two of the three branches of Virginia state government as a 2018 Governor's Fellow in the Office of the Lieutenant Governor and a Session Aide during the 2019 General Assembly. Born and raised in Virginia, Mel is the proud daughter of an Ecuadorian immigrant father & Puerto Rican mother. She earned her Bachelor's of Arts at the University of Virginia.
February 25, 2021 | Patrick

Loryn Crittendon

Loryn manages TCI’s social media accounts and digital products, broadening our reach and helping to ensure that folks across Virginia are able to engage in policy conversations. A Richmond native, Loryn earned her B.A. in African American & African Studies at the University of Virginia. During this time, she interned with four nonprofits, each with a mission to support various needs of marginalized communities. Following graduation, she worked as a content editor for a legal publishing company and as a technical writer on an Army contract. In both roles, she managed the review and execution of print and online deliverables with an eye for detail and reader comprehension. Loryn recently completed her M.A. in Communication at Johns Hopkins University and has shifted her professional focus back to supporting social justice missions.
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