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Staff

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August 2, 2022 | Sherri Egerton

Amy Wentz

As TCI's Director of Outreach and Engagement, Amy Wentz works to forge new and deeper partnerships, particularly with Black and brown-led organizations and less-resourced organizations across Virginia. She is determined to help tear down barriers that prevent communities of color and directly-impacted individuals from participating in and shaping the debates about our future. Amy is a Richmond native and a proud graduate of Richmond Public Schools. Outside of her role at TCI, she is an originating member of the BLK RVA Action team and the co-founder of Richmond Black Restaurant Experience which has brought together over 150,000 food lovers, over 100 Black-owned restaurants, food truck operators and caterers, and has driven nearly $3.4 million dollars into the local economy. Amy is constantly innovating and thinking of new ways to highlight the brilliant, and often untapped, culture of Richmond, as a way to bring revenue to the city and support neighborhood businesses. She has been recognized as a member of Style Weekly's Top 40 Under 40 and was recently named a 2020 Richmond History Maker by the Valentine Museum for her dedicated and sustainable service to the city of Richmond.
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.
August 2, 2022 | Sherri Egerton

Emily King

Emily is a Senior Policy Analyst and leads our Decriminalization of Poverty campaign, helping to dismantle policies that create poverty cycles for people in the criminal legal system, including court-imposed fines & fees. Emily previously worked for a non-profit where she advocated for increased behavioral health care access for individuals with lower incomes. She brings a unique perspective and insight to the criminal legal system with experience working on the intersection of behavioral health policy and the justice system at the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services. Emily is a passionate team member who is dedicated to advancing policies that improve racial equity and reduce economic disparities. Emily earned her Bachelor of Science in political science from the University of Mary Washington.
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 and 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.
July 28, 2022 | Sherri Egerton

Kami Blatt

Kami Blatt is TCI’s Administrative Assistant. 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, she interned at REAL LIFE during her senior year of college, which sparked her passion for working with nonprofits. After graduating, she was the team lead and a professional canvasser for the ACLU where she engaged with the Richmond community and had important conversations with locals about their constitutional rights while inspiring them to become agents of change. Kami earned her Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from Virginia Commonwealth 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 Director of Research and Education Policy at The Commonwealth Institute. That role includes leading TCI's analysis on education funding, supporting community-based partners in their education advocacy work, and making sure the strongest analysis is being brought to bear on key issues facing communities of color and low-income families. Additionally, Laura's work includes analyzing macroeconomic conditions in Virginia and safety net programs. 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.
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