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Board of Directors

Julie Jakopic

Julie has spent much of her professional career working with low-income families and communities. That work led her to become a professional advocate and Democratic civic activist. She has lead the Alexandria Community Services Board, the Alexandria Economic Opportunities Commission, Sheltered Homes of Alexandria and Hopkins House pre-school academies. She also served as the Vice Chair for Finance and Administration of the Alexandria Democratic Committee and served on the Eighth Congressional District Committee.

 

In 2015, after holding critical roles on campaigns for numerous Democratic candidates, she took on the challenge to run for Delegate. She ran in a five way primary in which she did well but did not win. She turned that experience into helping other women win through Virginia’s List.

 

Professionally, Julie leads iLead Strategies, a consulting firm helping leaders create workplaces that work for the people who work there, deliver outstanding results for customers and drive real impact in the world. Before launching iLead Strategies, Julie built and led successful teams in her work as vice president and human services practice leader at the Development Services Group and in executive positions at ICF International, The Finance Project and the National Association for State Community Services Programs (NASCSP). She was awarded the Ann Kagie National Community Services award by the National Association for State Community Services Programs, the Legislative & Public Policy Award by the Alexandria Commission for Women, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from Volunteer Alexandria. She holds an MA in sociology and a BA in communication from the University of Maryland.    

Jessica Bowser

Jessica is the Political Director and a founding board member of Virginia’s List.  She is a community activist and advocate for progressive values.  Civic engagement and volunteerism are Jessica’s passions and she prides herself on leading by example.  She serves on Governor Northam’s Advisory Board on Volunteerism and Service and is the Vice Chair of the Virginia Service Foundation.  As a former educator, she has worked tirelessly in the field of education policy and advocacy.  She holds a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Maryland.

Jessica is an appointed member of the Fairfax County Tree Commission and collaborates with many grassroots environmental groups to champion local conservation issues.  She is a member of the 2014 Political Leaders Program from the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership at the University of Virginia and currently serves on Sorensen's Northern Virginia Regional Board.  Jessica and her husband are proud alumni of The Ohio State University and reside in Alexandria, where Jessica is an active member of the Fairfax County Democratic Committee.

Laurie Buchwald

Laurie Buchwald is a former two-term member of Radford City Council where she focused on economic development, both in industry and small local business. She worked to strengthen relationships between the City and Radford University, served on the Planning Commission, the Main Street Board, and was instrumental in the development of the City’s bikeway/walkway system. She was an appointee under Governors Kaine and McDonnell to the Board for Professional and Occupational Regulation where she served for 7 years. Buchwald serves as Co-Chair of the Memorial Day Committee and is Chair of the Ride of Silence Committee.

 

She was elected to the Central Committee of the Democratic Party of Virginia where she also serves as a representative to the Democratic Women’s Caucus. Buchwald created the grassroots organization Elect Women! where she works to recruit and support SWVA women to run for office. 


In her professional life she is a Nurse Practitioner in a hospital based Women’s Health practice where she helps deliver quality medical care to women in the New River Valley. She has served in multiple positions, both on the state and regional level, in the Virginia Council of Nurse Practitioners. She has lived in Southwest Virginia for over 21 years, and as a single mother, raised her child here. She is a graduate of both Radford University and the Medical College of Virginia, where she received a Master’s Degree in Nursing. She is nationally certified in Women’s Health and Family Practice. Laurie is an avid sports fan, a passionate photographer and reader, and loves to travel, whether by car or on her motorcycle.

Julie Copeland

As the founding executive director of Emerge Virginia, Julie led the training and mentoring of 209 Democratic women to prepare them to run for office. Before launching an opposition research business in 1997, she played major roles in seven statewide campaigns in Virginia. She was chief of staff to the VA Lt. Gov. for four of her eight years with the Lt. Gov., and director of the Virginia Senate Democratic Caucus for five years

 

Julie is currently the Director of Client Services at Campaign X Collective Co.

Emily Francis

Emily has served on the board of Virginia’s List since 2015. She is a small business owner who runs a consulting firm specializing in strategic organizational support for nonprofits. Emily has spent the last 20 years working for and with public interest and environmental organizations; she is a fundraiser, strategist, organizer, and advocate. She began working on political campaigns in 2004 and is committed to ensuring our elected officials are reflective of and responsive to the constituents they represent.

 

Emily ran for office in 2015 and directly saw the value of local, grassroots support — including the support of Virginia’s List. She currently sits on the Executive Committee of the Richmond City Democratic Committee as the vice chair of voter registration and is active in precinct-by-precinct mobilization efforts. She serves on multiple statewide and local boards of directors, including NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia and the Byrd Park Community Garden.

Lateisha Garrett

Lateisha Garrett hails from Powhatan, VA and is a graduate of James Madison University (JMU) where she earned a degree in English and political communications. After JMU, Teisha moved to Washington, D.C. to make the world a better place and focused on fundraising from major and grassroots donors.

She has spent most of her career mobilizing and engaging people to support political candidates, advocacy organizations, issues, and non-profits. As a fundraiser, she has raised over $100 million from email, direct mail, phones, events, and campaigns. She is consistently called on by organizations to serve as an advisor on project implementation, strategy, recruiting, messaging, and more. She formed Garrett Strategies to focus on helping organizations grow their external engagement and fundraising strategies to deliver maximum impact. In her spare time, she can be found wandering around Alexandria, cheering on a Washington sports team, voraciously consuming books, or baking cupcakes.

Carla Hesseltine

Bio coming soon!

Deshundra Jefferson

Deshundra Jefferson is drawn to the eye of the storm. A former reporter, Deshundra once initiated an investigative series that held local officials accountable to those they had been elected to serve … but her favorite assignment may have been chasing tornadoes. She brings that same tenacious spirit to Virginia's List where she is passionate about electing women.

 

Deshundra has extensive experience creating strategic communications plans for corporate and nonprofit organizations designed to raise brand awareness, crafting persuasive messaging that simplifies complex legislative or other issues, and securing positive earned media coverage on behalf of her clients. Her High-profile placements include: The New York Times, Washington Post, The AP, Reuters, CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News. 

Deshundra earned a B.A. in political science from Columbia University and an M.A. in Communication from Johns Hopkins. Deshundra lives in Northern Virginia with her family.

Amy Laufer

Amy founded Virginia’s List in 2015 to support progressive women running for statewide office in Virginia. She is a current member and past chair of the Charlottesville City School Board, where she led initiatives that helped improve graduation rates, implemented an afterschool program aimed at improving reading skills for young students, and expanded preschool programs for city children. Amy won the Democratic nomination for Charlottesville City Council in 2017 with a record-setting number of votes for a primary and she is a candidate in the November general election.

 

Amy holds an undergraduate degree in geology from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee and a MA in science education from Columbia University-Teachers College. She has taught in public and private schools and spent two years in the Peace Corps teaching in an impoverished school in Jamaica. Amy has helped her husband run his Charlottesville-based real estate business and is the mother of three children.

Juanita Jo Matkins

After a few paid jobs as an actress, Juanita Jo used her bachelor’s degree in theatre (B.S. Theatre Arts, Towson University) as a springboard to teaching and ultimately to a professorship at the College of William & Mary – in science education (M.Ed and Ed.D. University of Virginia)!  Her first full-time teaching job was kindergarten and her last full-time teaching job was Professor of K-12 Science Education, retiring as Professor Emerita in 2015. It wasn’t until she discovered her own power to understand science concepts – by teaching them to her elementary students – that Juanita Jo “caught fire” and began to truly understand what it was to be self-actualized. She is determined to help others, both young and adult, to find their gifts and use them to the betterment of all. With her science background, Juanita Jo is a fierce advocate for solutions for human-induced climate change challenges, and for education that helps all citizens understand what they can do.

 

She lives in Louisa County and breathes rural issues such as broadband access. Juanita Jo ran for the House of Delegates from the 56th District in 2019 and learned the hard way how influential gerrymandering currently is in rural areas of Virginia. She serves as 1st Vice Chair of the Louisa Democratic Committee. She is a founder of Louisa United, a diverse local organization that advocates for better representation in government, policing, and education, and also for removal of Confederate symbols from pubic places. She is also a founding member of Indivisible Louisa, and is the go-to person for local questions about felony restoration of rights, having helped many local voters with restoration of their rights. She has lobbied in the General Assembly for both the NAACP and also Equality Virginia.

 

Juanita Jo plays the pipe organ for her church; loves to weed her flower garden, and wistfully recalls her 40’s when she was a competitive powerlifter and could benchpress her own weight. She is looking forward to helping women in Virginia reach the heights politically and to also help them know their power and use it to help us all.

Jonette Mead

Bio coming soon!

Atima Omara

With over a decade of experience, Atima has worked in politics and progressive non-profits engaging youth, women, and people of color in the political process and related progressive causes. An experienced political strategist, Atima has worked for a governor and as staff on many federal, state, and local Democratic campaigns in Virginia and across the country. Her multi-faceted political experience includes campaign management, field organizing, fundraising, and paid communications for coordinated campaigns and independent expenditures.

 

Additionally, Atima has done cross-movement work with labor unions, women’s rights organizations, and youth- and civil-rights organizations with a focus on political advocacy and engagement. Atima was the first African American president of the Young Democrats of America, the nation's largest partisan youth organization. She ran in a special election for the Virginia House of Delegates in 2014 and is a Democratic National Committee member from Virginia. Atima serves on the board of Emerge Virginia. She was listed as one of Ebony Magazine’s 2013 “Power 100” and Jet Magazine’s 2013 “40 under 40.” She was also featured in Essence Magazine in their November 2013 list of “Ten Things We’re Talking About”. She received her BA from the University of Virginia and her MPA from George Mason University.

Terry Ann Stevens

Terry has a lifelong interest in public service, volunteer work, community involvement and getting tasks accomplished.  She was on the Virginia Beach SPCA board for ten years and is still an honorary board member. As a military spouse living in the Middle East, Terry was instrumental in spearheading a middle school sports program at the DoD school.  Years later, US military children supporting their active duty parents in Bahrain are still benefiting from this program and they now have a dedicated Middle School Sports Coordinator. Currently, Terry volunteers with Vanguard Landing which has a Mission to offer a safe, intentional, interactive and inclusive community where persons with intellectual and developmental differences can thrive and achieve their life’s full potential.  Terry also serves on the board of Connect with a Wish which is an organization to enhance the lives of Virginia Beach foster children.

 

Professionally, Terry served the Commonwealth of Virginia as a Virginia State Trooper, Special Agent Accountant and Assistant Special Agent in Charge.  Currently, she works full time with Wainwright Real Estate helping people achieve their dream of homeownership and guiding them through the process. Terry received her Bachelor of Science in Actuarial Science & Mathematics from the University of Connecticut.  She graduated from the Emerge Virginia program in 2018. She attended the Sorensen Institute Candidate Training Program in 2019 and is a member of LEAD Hampton Roads Class of 2019.