Loudoun County chairwoman eager for women’s commission to begin its work
When constituents criticized her decision to use district funds to advance the commission on her own, Randall found a way to use private money to make it happen.
On April 19, the Commission on Women and Girls will hold its first meeting at 6:30 p.m. at the Loudoun County Government Center.
Randall (D-At Large) said the response she has received in support of the commission has been “overwhelming.”
From people approaching her on the street to offer free help to design the commission’s website to companies reaching out to her to donate money to the commission, the chairwoman said she's been proud of the community response. She said her office has received about 130 applications for the commission.
“In that way I’m kind of happy the board said no to me. Because I want the commission to stand on its own and help women and girls for years to come, no matter who occupies the chair's office,” Randall told the Times-Mirror.
When the board voted to turn down the commission on a party-line vote in January, several supervisors said while they liked Randall’s idea, it was not the role of a corporate board to approve a commission that would advise them on issues unrelated to county business.
However, prior to that, for more than 20 years Loudoun County previously had a Commission on Women – from 1985 until it was disbanded in 2008. According to county documents, the group was formed at a time when there was a “need for advocacy on behalf of women."
After the board voted down her commission this year, the first-term chairwoman vowed to use county facilities to hold meetings for her initiative, use taxpayer money from her district budget to fund it and post information about the initiative on county websites and through her chair newsletter.
Randall changed course in February and said she would use only use privately raised money for the group.
Loudoun resident Christine DeWitt, a mother of two girls and former corporate attorney, will serve as the commission's chairwoman.
Randall plans to direct the commission for the first two years and then have the commission stand on its own after that.
The commission will aim to help Loudoun women and girls with financial planning, employment, etiquette coaching, social media safety, domestic violence and the science, technology, engineering and mathematics field.
Randall said she is currently wrapping up logistical work on the commission, which includes figuring out how to accept the donations she has been offered for the commission as a nonprofit organization.
The chairwoman says she hopes to place the commission under the Community Foundation for Loudoun and Northern Fauquier Counties and wants to hold a community event in the summer.
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