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McAuliffe Names Anne Holton, Former Va. First Lady, Education Secretary

Wife of Sen. Tim Kaine has a law degree from Harvard, served as a Richmond judge and has raised three children.

Anne Holton was chosen to be Education secretary. Patch file photo by James Cullum
Anne Holton was chosen to be Education secretary. Patch file photo by James Cullum
By Mary Ann Barton

Gov.-elect Terry McAuliffe announced Friday that he has named Anne Holton, former first lady of Virginia and wife of U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine his Education secretary.

“Anne Holton’s lifetime of experience with Virginia public schools, her public service on behalf of Virginia students and her passion for creating opportunity for all of our kids make her the best choice to join my administration as Secretary of Education,” said Governor-elect McAuliffe. “A public education in Virginia should be a gateway to success for every student, regardless of where they are born or what their economic circumstances are. I am thrilled to have Anne as a member of my team as we work together to strengthen Virginia’s education system from early childhood all the way through college and workforce training.”

Holton is also the daughter of former Governor Linwood Holton. After a federal court decision desegregating Richmond Public Schools, she and her siblings attended predominantly black schools near the Virginia Executive Mansion, where she held slumber parties when she was 12. 

In her current position as Program Director for the Great Expectations Program for Foster Youth, Holton works with Virginia’s Community Colleges to improve access to and success in higher education for Virginia’s foster youth and alumni.

“I am honored to have this opportunity to work with Governor-elect McAuliffe to strengthen Virginia’s schools from pre-Kindergarten all the way through college and workforce training, and to make sure our system works for all of our students, including those who are too often left on the margins of our society,” Holton said Friday. “I am eager to bring my experience with Virginia public schools as a student, mother, judge, First Lady, and children’s advocate to this exciting role on the great bipartisan team the Governor-elect has built to serve Virginians over these next four years.”

Holton holds a law degree from Harvard, where she met Kaine. She served as a Richmond judge prior to becoming first lady in 2006. She is the mother of three children.

As First Lady, she launched her signature initiative in January 2007, “For Keeps: Families for all Virginia Teens”, which focused on helping Virginia find and strengthen permanent families particularly for older children in foster care or at risk of entering care. This work led her to a leadership role in the Children’s Services Transformation upon which Virginia embarked in late 2007, which resulted in a dramatic increase in successfully placing and/or keeping at-risk children in permanent families.

Among the awards Holton has has received are awards and honors from the YWCA of Richmond Outstanding Woman of the Year in Law in 2006 and the Annie E. Casey Foundation Families for Life Award of Distinction in 2008.

She sits on numerous boards, including Voices of Virginia’s Children, Richmond Public Schools Education Foundation, and the Advisory Board of Youth-Nex: The U.Va Center to Promote Effective Youth Development at the Curry School of Education. Holton has also been active in school Parent Teacher Associations.

Anne Holton was new to campaigning for her husband in his successful run for the U.S. Senate. When Kaine ran for office in previous years, she was barred from hitting the trail due to her job as a juvenile court judge.

While campaigning, she traveled Virginia on a listening tour, discussing with local business owners what her husband could do to make their lives easier and in turn, keep the economy moving.

More about Anne Holton, from a Patch interview in April 2012:

More about Anne Holton:

Every morning I read: "I'm a hard copy reader and I read the Richmond Times-Dispatch every morning, I usually do CNN and often The Washington Post."

The last book I read was: "I have a great book club, we've been together for 15-plus years. 'The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating' by Elisabeth Bailey. It's a delightful book about illness and recovery but also about nature."

Favorite meal: "Fresh [central Virginia] Hanover tomatoes, fresh basil and mozzarella. When planting season starts, we start looking forward to tomato season."

Anyone I would invite to dinner: "Friends and family. If I had another free evening, I would spend it with the kids who have aged out of foster care who I've gotten to know over the years, in particular there are some in a community college program [Great Expectations] at J. Sargeant Community College."

The hardest thing I've ever done: "Watching my children get to the point where it's time to let go, and let them go off and do their own thing. My oldest is about to commission into the Marine Corps, and it's exciting and fun to watch them. The other two have their own ideas. My part is pretty much done. I'm proud and excited but the nail biting comes with the pride."

A dream I have is to: "I don't dream very far ahead. An evening home alone with my husband."

My favorite president is: President Obama

My favorite first lady is: Eleanor Roosevelt

The most daring thing I've ever done: "Tim and I have had a couple of outdoor adventures. Two in particular come to mind. One in the Pyreenes in northern Spain and another hiking Wheeler Peak in New Mexico; there was some pretty steep hiking."

You'd be surprised to learn that I: "I'm a big theater fan; when Tim traveled a lot, my daughter and I took advantage of seeing a lot of theater."

A motto I live by: "I try to take a little time several times a day to be thankful, at mealtime, and there's a Philipians' quote, that, I don't know if I can remember all of the words."

"If There Be Any Virtue:"

"Finally brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."

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