Richmond History Makers Celebration & Community Update Highlights the Progress and Promise in RVA
By Janna M. Hall | CEO, Leap Innovative Group
Across the city of Richmond, men and women are dedicating their daily work and livelihood to improving conditions for the people living in this great city. From education to social stability and workforce preparation, the powerful ways in which everyday citizens invoke change is groundbreaking and honorable, even.
Since 2005, the Valentine Museum has built into its programming the opportunity to honor these individuals through their Richmond History Makers Celebration. The annual event is the opportunity for fellow community members to acknowledge and highlight those whose work has transformed the present and created an impact that will be felt for years to come.
On March 13, 2018, The Valentine hosted its 13th annual History Makers Celebration in conjunction with the Capital Region Collaborative’s (CRC) Community Update, held at Virginia Union University. The celebration brought forth many firsts; the first time The Valentine and CRC partnered on this annual event, the first time the ceremony was held off site, and was the first time they’ve honored six history makers instead of five. This partnership is an unprecedented effort to educate the public on the progress we’ve made as a city and discuss where we’re going, all while honoring the very people whose contributions make such progress possible.
“With the Richmond History Makers program, our goal is to identify folks in the community who are bold and innovative, but might not be receiving recognition for their work,” explains Eric Steigleder, Director of Marketing & Public Relations at The Valentine. “That runs the gamut from people at the highest corporate level to the person who helps out their neighbor when they need assistance. It’s unique because all the nominees come from members of the community.”
So how do everyday community members become History Makers? The process is simple: The Valentine puts out a request to the public to identify who they believe are history makers in the region. Members nominate their selections, and The Valentine brings those nominations to Leadership Metro Richmond graduates and past History Maker honorees. What comes next is a passionate debate, where all in attendance hash out who they believe should make the final cut. Essentially, there’s a room full of the best of the best that Richmond has to offer deciding on the next wave of “the best of the best”. The end result is an incredible group of diverse men and women who are indeed making history with their groundbreaking work. In fact, this year is the most diverse bunch.
“We’re really proud to have the most diverse list of honorees this year,” says Steigleder, “The goal has always been to have our honorees look like and represent different parts of our city.”
Because of the heavy focus on community impact, the marriage between History Makers and the CRC’s annual Community Update was a natural fit.
“The Capital Region Collaborative provides a unique spot in the community where local government, private sector, and non-profit come together to work on shared goals,” says Ashley Hall, Manager at CRC. “Any time there’s a challenge in the community, instead of dividing in silos, everybody comes to work collectively. Early on, we talked to about 8,000 community members across the region and discussed what was important to them and where they believed we had room to grow. From those conversations, we developed our eight priority areas.”
The eight key priority areas are Education, Job Creation, Workforce Preparation, Social Stability, Healthy Community, Coordinated Transportation, James River, and Quality Place, and the Community Update updates Richmond residents on the progress we’re making in each area. The collaboration with History Makers is twofold: It updates the community with real statistics on how far we’ve come since the last update, while also honoring those who’ve been instrumental in making that change happen.
“We want to identify people doing great things in the community, but sometimes it lacks context,” explains Steigleder. “This collaborative community event allows us to back up the honorees’ efforts with actual data. In the midst of our celebration, we’re acknowledging that there’s still more work to be done.”
Honorees include Ashby and Terri Anderson, Kim Mahan from Maxx Potential, Pam Mines from JP JumPers Foundation, Diversity Richmond, Culture Works, and Duron Chavis from Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden.
The History Makers event is but a springboard for future collaborations, exposure, and opportunities for the honorees. On April 2nd, The Valentine will host its final Controversy History event, and will welcome the honorees to speak on behalf of their work. There, the honorees will have the chance to jump into the conversation and answer the questions: What about your work is controversial? Where does it deviate from normal conversations about the work done in your field? In addition to answering those questions, Steigleder and Hall are excited to foster an environment that births potential partnerships, funding, and grants for the honorees.
Voting for 2019 honorees begins in September 2018 and ends mid-October.