Friday, February 3, 2017

Meet the VEA Lobby Cadre

The VEA is very fortunate to have a team of dedicated leadership and staff who are at the General Assembly every single day, covering every single committee and subcommittee meeting during session. We are lucky to have our Lobby Cadre! Please read below to learn a little more about them.

Jim Livingston
Jim Livingston is your VEA President. Jim began his term on August 1, 2016.

From Jim,
The thing I find most interesting about lobbying is the fact that so many elected members of the GA bring their own personal biases to bear in the form of the legislation they bring to the table.  Too many legislators bring their own agenda rather than representing constituents.  That is not true of all but for many who’ve been in elected office for some time, they have clearly lost touch with constituents and too often vote simply according to ideology.

For that reason, it has become very clear that it’s time to shake up the GA!  Simply put…it’s time for some of them to go!

I wish members knew how much personal stories/personal appearances by individuals impact/influence how legislators respond.  While it’s difficult for our members to leave their classrooms/work assignments, their personal appearance to speak to specific legislation would have a huge impact.

James Feddermann
James J. Fedderman, Ph.D., is the choral director at Arcadia High School located on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. He is in his first term as VEA Vice President and his third term as NEA Director.  He is looking forward to advocating and advancing the Legislative Agenda of the VEA.
Dr. Fedderman is the proud father of one daughter, Jordan Alexandria Fedderman and one son, Jaylen Alexander Fedderman.

Gail Pittman
Gail Pittman began lobbying for the VEA in 1988. Over those years she has seen many changes in the General Assembly.  Support for public education has cycled high and low, but throughout, Pittman has been a consistent voice for Virginia's public schools and Virginia's public school employees.  VEA is a powerful voice for its members and the children they serve.  Pittman is proud to have a small part in that advocacy.

Jay Deck
Jay Deck is the UniServ Director in Valley UniServ. He has lobbied for the VEA for 24 tears. He enjoys representing teachers and students in the public schools. Without VEA a presence, those voices would be lost. I monitor the money committees (House Appropriations and Senate Finance) in the General Assembly.

Pat Wood
Pat Wood is the UniServ Director for New River UniServ including Grayson, Galax, Carroll, Pulaski, Radford, Floyd, Montgomery and Giles.  Her office is located in Radford.  She is a veteran UniServ Director of over 25 years.  She has been with the VEA Lobby Cadre for five years.  Pat has four daughters and lives in Roanoke. 

Alicia Smith
Alicia Smith has been with the Virginia Education Association since January 2007. She is the UniServ Director assigned to the Elizabeth River UniServ Unit serving Chesapeake and Norfolk. Her professional experience includes working in political campaigns in Virginia, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Illinois. She fell in love with the Virginia General Assembly during the 2004 session as a Graduate Student Intern for Norfolk State University’s Office of the President and Legislative Affair. VEA brought her back to this love in 2007. Serving on the Lobby Cadre reminds her of the diversity of our Commonwealth. Virginians from every walk of life are free to come in and out of Capitol Square telling their stories and advocating for their interest. Actively accessing this freedom is her favorite thing about lobbying for you. 

Lisa Staib
Lisa has been a UniServ Director in VEA's Alexandria office for 15 years and this is her 6th year on the lobby cadre. Growing up in a capital city, Jefferson City, Missouri, and as a political science major, Lisa has always been interested in politics.  And as the members she works with can attest, she loves to analyze and advocate for local school board policies.  Lobbying combines both of these interests and strengthens in her work on behalf of VEA members at both the state and local level. 

Cindy Kirby
Cindy serves VEA as a UniServ Director in Fairfax. This is her second year on the Lobby Cadre. She looks forward to working with her colleagues and to educating our NOVA Senators and Delegates on VEA’s legislative agenda and K-12 public education issues. Cindy thinks that it is so exciting to part of the effort to improve the lives of our members and advance the cause of public education in Virginia. She was thrilled to see so many of you on Lobby Day!

Kathy Burcher
Kathy Burcher is the Director of Government Relations and Research for the VEA. In this role, she serves as your chief lobbyist. This is Kathy’s second year on the Lobby Cadre, but her 10th session advocating for public education issues in VA. Kathy likes to tell members to “Tell Your Story!” She knows that legislators need to hear the impact of the decisions made here at the General Assembly. They need to know what is happening in your classrooms, in your schools, and in your communities. So, keep telling your stories, keep talking with your legislators. Build that relationship during the off-session and keep it up. Invite them to your schools, to your rep meetings, make them a partner in everything you do. Remember, they work for you.

Travis Blankenship
Travis is our new Government Relations Specialist who will oversee VEA’s Campaigns and Elections and PAC work, but he will also serve on the Lobby Cadre. Travis is a familiar face at the General Assembly having worked the last 5 sessions for the Virginia League of Conservation Voters. We are happy to have Travis join the Cadre and the VEA Team!