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    Today, the organization strongly supports regional good-government initiatives, such as fair, non-partisan redistricting for Virginia elections. Monthly programs inform members of issues central to the success of the city and the surrounding counties in the metropolitan region

    Speakers include area government officials; educators; candidates for office; specialists in transportation, economic development, tourism, and regional cooperation; health care and non-profit service providers; authorities on housing and challenges of the homeless; and political analysts, among other metro region leaders.

    As the organization moves forward into its second century of public service, Richmond First welcomes new members from all neighborhoods in the region who believe that well-informed citizens are essential for a better government for everyone.

    For more information about the important heritage of the Richmond First, please enjoy this excellent video prepared for our 100th anniversary celebration.

    2023-24 Officers and Directors

    James (Jim) Jernigan | President:
    After a corporate career in the U.S. and abroad, Jim formed his own company in 1998, CATEA Enterprises, Inc. CATEA is a business development consultancy utilizing his experience in global operations, business expansions, turnarounds, and business startups. He is happy to call Richmond home now and has become an active member of the community, serving as a board member at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden and ChildSavers100 and as a mentor to MBA Candidates at the University of Richmond, Robins School of Business; entrepreneurs at Lighthouse Labs RVA, a nationally recognized equity-free early-stage accelerator based in Richmond; and with clients at the Healing Place and CARITAS Works.
    LinkedIn Bio:Jim Jernigan

    Suzanne Munson Jernigan | Vice President - Programming:
    Following a career in corporate and non-profit communications, Suzanne devotes time to writing books and articles and providing lectures and podcasts on subjects from her work. Themes focus on the contributions of statesmen who helped get America off to the right start during its early nationhood. Books include a biography of Founding Father George Wythe, "Jefferson's Godfather," "The Metaphysical Thomas Jefferson," and "First in Law, First in Leadership," an account of the nation's first law school and leadership training program at the College of William & Mary, to be published later this year. She has recently published a journal of poems, "Of Loss and Love-A Journey of the Heart."
    LinkedIn Bio:Suzanne Munson Jernigan

    Judy Philpott | Secretary:
    Judy is currently retired after spending a career in education, advocacy, and research. She graduated from the College of William & Mary with a degree in political science and education and completed her graduate work at Virginia Commonwealth University in Special Education and Criminal Justice Administration. She also did Leadership Studies at the University of Oklahoma. She worked with several state agencies as legislative liaison and program administrator and served in the Office of the Secretary of Health and Human Resources during the Wilder administration and worked as a research analyst with the Virginia State Crime Commission. After a short stint in the Peace Corps in South Africa, she served as Assistant Superintendent of Adult Academic Programs in the Department for Correctional Education.

    Chuck and Debbie Epes | Co-Treasurers:
    Debbie is a retired teacher, having taught fourth grade at St. Christopher's School for 36 years. Chuck retired as Virginia Communications Director for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and is a former reporter and editor for the Richmond News Leader, Richmond's former afternoon newspaper. They volunteer at several community organizations.

    Jazlyn Green | Communications Director:
    Jazlyn is a Richmond native who is working in the Human Resource field at the Virginia Housing Development Authority as the Talent Development Specialist. She graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a dual degree in business with a concentration in human resources and real estate.
    LinkedIn Bio:Jazlyn Green

    Lynn Woltz Bernard | Membership Director:
    Lynn serves as a Chesterfield County election official and as a volunteer for several NFP organizations. She holds certifications in various holistic lifestyle modalities and is a lifetime member of the National Center for Homeopathy. Her art, photography, and writing have been displayed/published widely over the past three decades after having resigned from a successful fashion design career to raise her 4 children. Lynn is an alumna of the Fashion Institute of Technology, and the University of Virginia.

    Sam Seeley | Director at Large:
    Sam has worked in public relations and marketing for over 25 years, mainly running her own communications consulting firm. She has been an adjunct professor in the VCU School of Business for over 10 years teaching marketing and communications. Additionally, she has also taught as a visiting faculty member of the Anglo-American University in Prague. Sam holds a BA from Furman University and an MA from UVA. She served as president of RFC for two terms: 2011-13.
    LinkedIn Bio:Sam Seeley

    Bernie Henderson | Director at Large:
    Bernie is President Emeritus and Celebrant for Woody and Nelsen Funeral Homes. He served 30 years in the Virginia government, including Director of the Department of Commerce, Director of the Department of Health Professions, and Senior Deputy Secretary of the Commonwealth. He is a former President of Jewish Family Services, and the Shepherd's Center. He was educated at Old Dominion University, University of Virginia, and Harvard University (John F. Kennedy School of Government).

    Lorraine Waddill | Director at Large:
    Lorraine is a graduate from Virginia Commonwealth University with a degree in political science. She worked for over 15 years as a Legislative Aide in the Virginia General Assembly. She has been a member of the Virginia State Advisory Commission of the U. S Commission on Civil Rights and Chairman of the Board of John Tyler Community College. Today she is active in The League of Women Voters Richmond Metro Area, the Huguenot Republican Woman's Club, and Mt. Pisgah Church in Midlothian.
    LinkedIn Bio:Lorraine Waddil

    Howard Owen | Past President:
    Howard is a retired journalist and the author of 21 published novels. Owen's 10th novel and first mystery, Oregon Hill, won the 2012 Dashiell Hammett Prize for best crime literature in North America, given by the International Association of Crime Writers. Owen was an award-winning newspaper reporter and editor for 44 years. He was, among other things, deputy managing editor and sports editor of the Richmond Times-Dispatch and editorial pages editor of The Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg.
    LinkedIn Bio:Howard Owen



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