The Virginia Interfaith Center was created in 1982 out of the Virginia Council of Churches as a way to involve people of all faith traditions in social justice work.

We are a broadly diverse, morally driven group of advocates working to advance public policies that better serve low-income, vulnerable, and underrepresented communities in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

We engage and educate people of faith and the public regarding critical social issues, the legislative process, and the call to advocacy.



Our Vision

A world where people of all faiths cooperate to create compassionate communities that are just, peaceful, equitable and sustainable.
FInances

Our Mission

To empower Virginians to create social justice for all by advocating for systemic change.

Our Work

We unite people of faith in Virginia through partnerships with other statewide advocacy organizations and our own grassroots networks.

Our Finances

As a 501(c)3 non-profit we believe in total transparency of our financial records. Latest audit


Leadership Team


Kim Bobo

Executive Director

Kim is a nationally known promoter of social justice who literally wrote the book on faith-based organizing. She began work as the new executive director for the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy on Feb. 10, coming to Virginia from Chicago, where she founded and served as the executive director of Interfaith Worker Justice, the nation’s largest network of people of faith engaging in local and national actions to improve wages, benefits and conditions for workers. Prior to that she was national organizing director for Bread for the World and an instructor at the Midwest Academy. Born in Cincinnati, Kim attended Barnard College. She was married for 31 years to Stephen Coats, who died unexpectedly in 2013. She has twin sons, Eric and Benjamin, who just graduated from college this year.
kim@virginiainterfaithcenter.org
Kim Bobo is the author or co-author of several books, including: “Wage Theft in America: Why Millions of Working Americans Are Not Getting Paid – And What We Can Do About It,” the first book to document the wage theft crisis in the nation and propose practical solutions for addressing it, “Organizing for Social Change,” the best-selling organizing manual in the country, and “Lives Matter: A Handbook for Christian Organizing.” Bobo’s most recent book, “The Worker Center Handbook,” will be published in 2016 by ILR Press, an imprint of Cornell University Press.

Rev. Charles Swadley

Faith Outreach Coordinator

The Rev. Charles Swadley is a retired United Methodist pastor living in Williamsburg. Ordained an Elder in 1979, he served United Methodist congregations at Sleepy Hollow, Williamsburg, Toano, Boulevard in Richmond, Cornith, St. James and Lakeside in Richmond before retirement in 2011. In addition to serving on the Board of the Center, Charles has been a life-saver for the organization, stepping in twice as interim executive director when his wise counsel was much needed. On his days off Charles can be found in a nearby stream, fly-fishing.
charles@virginiainterfaithcenter.org

Ian Young

Administrative Manager

Ian has been a Richmond resident for four years and has been with VICPP since June 2015. Originally from Fredericksburg, Young moved to Richmond to take care of his grandmother and to continue his education. In May 2013, he graduated from J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College with an Associate of Applied Science in Information Systems Technology. He also enjoys reading, biking, and playing the piano.
office@virginiainterfaithcenter.org

Karen Cameron

Healthcare Director

With more than 25 years experience in planning, community development, and management, Karen has dedicated her career to improving our healthcare system to ensure access for all members of our communities. She has served as a healthcare management consultant for her own and two national firms, Vice-President Planning & Marketing for a Virginia hospital, Business Development & Sales Manager for a statewide home infusion company, and Executive Director of the Central Virginia Health Planning Agency, where she was an early supporter of the Healthcare for All Virginians coalition and led the development of language to require charity care for approval of certain healthcare services or facilities. Karen has degrees from the University of Virginia and VCU.
karen@virginiaconsumervoices.org

Neill Caldwell

Communications Director

Neill joined VICPP in November 2015. Originally from North Carolina, he has many years experience in journalism, having started as a newspaper photographer and sportswriter at age 16. His wife, Lynne, is a United Methodist pastor serving Brookland UMC in midtown Richmond.
neill@virginiainterfaithcenter.org

Bill Kallio

Healthcare Policy Advisor

Bill is currently State Director of the AARP Virginia Office in Richmond. Prior to that he was a legislative representative for the AARP in Washington, and Executive Director, Evangelicals for Social Action. He has also served on the Virginia Commission on Alzheimer’s and Other Related Disorders, the Medicaid Task Force for Virginia, the Health Care Reform Advisory Council and Health Care for All Virginians.
Email him at Bill@virginiainterfaithcenter.org


Our Network


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Statewide Chapters


Board of Directors


Mr. Frank A. McKinney III

Chairman of the Board

A 31-year veteran of the United States Navy, Frank A. McKinney III is the current president of the VICPP Board. He lives in Virginia Beach and works as a Realtor in the Tidewater area, with an office in Newport News.

Mrs. Juilie Swason

Treasurer

In 2005 Julie Swanson became president and chief executive officer of Lutheran Family Services of Virginia. LFSVA offers adoption and foster care, education for children with complex needs, supports for individuals with disabilities, and community services to strengthen families. The agency employs more than 440 people in 23 locations. She serves on the national board of Lutheran Services in America and is past chair of the LSA Disabilities Network. She is a founding member of the Virginia Nonprofit Leadership Council and past chair. Before Virginia, Julie worked at Lutheran agencies in Colorado, Florida and the Virgin Islands.

Mr. Davis Balderston

Secretary

Davis Balderston joined the VICPP Board in 2011, and is currently serving as the Board’s Secretary. He is a retired government official who lives in Arlington and attends Alexandria Friends Meeting.

Rev. John Copenhaver

Vice Chair of the Board

The Rev. Dr. John Copenhaver is Professor Emeritus of Religion and Philosophy at Shenan-
doah University and is ordained in the United Methodist Church. He earned a Ph.D. in religion and culture at The Catholic University. He is the author of Prayerful AA: The Relation of Prayer and Social Responsibilityof Douglas Steere.

Ms. Sarah Cochran

Sarah Cochrane is a foreign affairs specialist and mediator with expertise in international and inter-group conflict management and trans-formation. She serves as director for Virginia at Emerge USA and as Business Development Director at GCB Services. Sarah speaks Urdu, Hindi and Arabic. Her board memberships include The Women’s Center in Washington.

Mr. Ali Faruk

Ali Faruk brings experience in civic engagement, non-profit management, and public policy to the Board. After graduating from VCU, Ali was a Policy Analyst on staff at the Center, working on immigration and healthcare. For several years he was Policy Director at Housing Opportunities Made Equal of VA, Inc. He is currently at the state’s Department for Medical Assistance Services.

Dr. John Whitley

Dr. John Whitley is president for Organization and Leadership Development, Consulting Services Group. John has degrees from Wake Forest, William & Mary, Southeastern Theological Seminary and Virginia Tech. He is a self-described “Feminist, Left-winged Radical, Socialist, Democrat, Unitarian Universalist, Civil and Human Rights Activist.”

Dr. Warren Hottle

Dr. Warren Hottle is a United Methodist clergy spouse who along with Lucy lives in the Fan neighborhood of Richmond and on the Rappahannock River in Lancaster. Warren is a retired consultant and a pilot. He is also serving as immediate Past Commodore of the Yankee Point
Racing and Cruising Club and on the United Methodist Committee of the Episcopacy.

Ms. Debra Gold Linick

Debra Gold Linick served as director for North-
ern Virginia and the District of Columbia at the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington from 2004-2014 and continues to organize the JCRC’s Holocaust programming. In 2014 she founded Pictures with Prose. Debra lives in Annandale with her husband, retired Army Col. Michael Linick. She was recognized VICPP’s Citizen of the Year in 2014.

Rev. Anthony Fludd

The Rev. Anthony Fludd is a Administrative As- sistant of the St. John’s Church of God in Christ
in Newport News. He is an experienced hospital and nursing home administrator, and past chair Chairman of the Virginia State Board of Nursing Home Administrators. He graduated from Ithaca College, and Long Island University, and is currently working on a doctorate.

Rev. Jenee Gilchrist

The Rev. Jenee’ Gilchrist is the Youth and Young Adult minister at Pilgrim Journey Baptist Church. She earned her Master of Divinity degree from the School of Theology at Virginia Union University, received a B.A. from Bennett College and an M.A. from East Carolina University. She is also Vice President of the Virginia
Council of Churches.

Rev. Scott Hopkins

The Rev. Scott D. Hopkins serves Andrew Chapel United Methodist Church in Vienna. A native of the Atlanta area, Scott graduated from Mars Hill College and Southern Seminary. He is a on the Virginia Conference Board of Church and Society, the Methodist Federation for Social Action and Reconciling Ministries Network, and is the conference’s Peace With Justice Coordinator.

Dr. Alok Srivastava

Dr. Alok Srivastava is a 30-year resident of Virginia. He is former president and current secre-
tary of Rajdhani (Capital Area) Mandir (Hindu/Jain Temple) in Chantilly, and past president of
Association of Hindu Jain Temples,. He has a Ph.D. and two masters in engineering fields, last
graduated from the George Washington University. Dr. Srivastava is married with two children, one of whom is special needs.

Richard Samet

Attorney Richard Samet graduated from Wake Forest University, and the University of Richmond and is now working for Goodman, Allen & Filetti, in Glen Allen. He was also a clerk to 13th
Judicial Circuit of Virginia. His practice areas include Immigration, Intellectual Property and Medical Malpractice.

Mr. Irv Varkonyi

Irvin Varkonyi is an independent consultant and educator working in supply chain management. He volunteers with the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington. He is a former member of the Congregation Olam Tikvah Executive Board, a conservative synagogue in Fairfax. Irvin’s career was in global transportation and logistics after earning an MBA.

Rev. David Chapman

The Rev. Dr. David L. Chapman has served as Interim Executive Minister of the Baptist General Convention of Virginia since January, 2014. Prior to that he was senior pastor at High Street Baptist Church in Roanoke. He has degrees from Bluefield State College and the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University.




 

Lana Heath de Martinez

Lana Heath de Martinez has just completed a Master of Divinity degree at Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond. Her background is primarily in immigrant rights advocacy. She has been the Virginia chapter president of American Families United, a grassroots organizer with Virginia Organizing and Organizing For Action, and a Public Policy intern for VICPP.

 

Policy Priorities

There are a number of ways to get involved with the Virginia Interfaith Center and our advocacy work. The first step is to learn about our priority issues and how to be an effective advocate on those issues. Get started to learn more today.


The Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy (VICPP), and its healthcare arm, Virginia Consumer Voices for Healthcare (VCV), believe that they can convince the Virginia General Assembly to close the health insurance coverage gap using federal Medicaid dollars in Virginia. Doing so would allow 400,000 Virginians to get healthcare coverage and bring in $6 million a day into Virginia in federal dollars. The Center staff and many volunteers have begun a series of meetings in selected districts of the Commonwealth. While it’s important to be in contact with all legislators, it’s especially important to communicate with those Delegates and Senators who have not supported expanding healthcare insurance coverage for all Virginians.

Approximately 170,000 Virginians are not able to get drivers’ licenses because they owe court fines and costs. Most returning citizens (ex-offenders) owe court fines and costs. Even though Virginia allows county courts to establish payment plans so people can begin paying and get a drivers’ license, many counties don’t have such plans or do not inform people of the options for payment plans. As a result, many returning citizens do not have drivers’ licenses and thus can’t get to work. Or, they drive without a license and risk going back to jail.
VICPP has worked to strengthen wage enforcement in the past when it advocated restoration of funding for the Department of Labor and Industries for wage enforcement when the Assembly cuts its budget. VICPP will be convening a wage theft taskforce composed of experts from around the state to look at what Virginia could do to strengthen enforcement against wage theft. The taskforce will work closely with the Department of Labor and Industries to assure that any proposals made are workable ones.

Current areas of focus

Ongoing issues

Over the past 30 years, the rich have been getting richer while the poor have been getting poorer. Since the start of the Great Recession, this trend has further accelerated across the nation and in Virginia. Raising the minimum wage to $15 over three years would help close the wage gap and give a boost to struggling families, lifting them out of poverty. In Virginia, six in ten minimum wage workers are women and many are raising families.
Proper nutrition is vital to the healthy social, cognitive, and physical development in children. Kids who do not get enough healthy food to eat are more likely to struggle and are less likely to grow up to be successful and productive citizens. In 2011, more than 321,000 children in the state were at risk of hunger, or food insecure. VICPP has joined the efforts of two partners whose work aims to eliminate hunger in children. These include the Virginia No Kid Hungry program and Virginia Hunger Solutions. We support the governor’s inclusion of funding for Universal Breakfasts in the latest budget proposal.
Virginia’s legal threshold for felony robbery charges has not changed since 1980, when it was raised from $100 to the current level of $200. Virginia and New Jersey are the only states at this level, while the District of Columbia, Maryland and North Carolina have a threshold of $1,000, Delaware has a threshold of $1,500, and Pennsylvania has a threshold of $2,000. This low threshold has been described as a “deterrent” by the retail industry. But, the reality is that the community suffers by having more young people enter the penal system under the extremely low threshold, which means that with a recidivism rate of 82%, most of those entering stay in the system for their life. The Center would like to see that raised to $1,500.Virginia passed positive payday loan reforms in 2008 in the Payday Lending Act. These protections have made payday loans somewhat less onerous, but payday loans have largely been replaced by triple-digit car-title loans and largely unregulated open-end loans that range from 250-360 percent. These loans lock borrowers in a vicious cycle of debt.

People of color are over‐represented in the Virginia criminal justice system. African Americans comprise roughly 20 percent of the adult population, but in the justice system, however, they comprise 47 percent of all arrests and 61 percent of state prison inmates. For every white person incarcerated in Virginia, six African Americans are behind bars. As a result, 20 percent of African American Virginians have lost the right to vote, isolating them from their communities.
We believe that federal legislation to broadly reform immigration policy must include a clear and timely path to citizenship for those that would qualify, boosting the economy of Virginia and the U.S. We cannot persist in a segregated society where some have rights, but too many do not. As a practical matter in Virginia, we need to make sure that persons that are authorized or lawfully present in the United States are treated fairly.

Every 10 years, Virginia works through the process of redistricting for both state and federal districts. Historically the majority party works through a closed door process to draw district lines that give them a powerful advantage in future elections. It is all the more important that we adopt an impartial and nonpartisan process to draw the lines in the future. We will work through the legislature to call for a fair and open process to pave the way to redistricting. We will also track related concerns such as the implementation of Virginia’s voter I.D. law to make sure that people are not systematically disenfranchised from voting.
We must do more to address gun violence as it has taken the lives of too many innocents. The Center supports legislation to require background checks for all firearm sales and prohibit straw sales, making it illegal to purchase a firearm on behalf of anyone not lawfully allowed to purchase it themselves. Finally, we support legislation to further limit access to firearms for individuals previously convicted of violent crimes.
VICPP has a strong history of support for consumer finance protection in Virginia. We have consistently supported a 36% annual percentage rate (APR) cap on interest rates for both payday and car title lenders. We also support other legislation designed to either cap fees or limit the number of loans offered by predatory lenders. At the federal level, we are strongly in support of the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) and its work to ensure that payday and predatory lenders are properly regulated.
Virginia passed positive payday loan reforms in 2008 in the Payday Lending Act. These protections have made payday loans somewhat less onerous, but payday loans have largely been replaced by triple-digit car-title loans and largely unregulated open-end loans that range from 250-360 percent. These loans lock borrowers in a vicious cycle of debt.

VICPP will continue to monitor proposed and current public policies that abuse the environment: We will support efforts to reverse the effects of climate change and to promote clean water; will oppose expansion of hydraulic fracturing; and will oppose uranium mining in Virginia.
 

Get Involved


Learn

Participate in some of the courses we have already posted online. Click here
Learn how to contact your representatives and effectively have your voice heard. Click here
Learn the structure of our Virginia government and the legislative process. Click here

Our Chapters and Affiliated Groups

Currently the Virginia Interfaith Center has 5 full Chapters and 2 affiliated groups around the Commonwealth. Click here

Stay Updated


Upcoming Events

Dec 2016

Annual Meeting – Thursday, December 15, 2016 at 5:30 pm - 9:00 pm

Jan 2017

Day For All People – Wednesday, January 25, 2017 at 8:00 am - 3:00 pm

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Address 1716 E. Franklin St. Richmond, VA 23223

Phone (804) 643-2474

Email office@virginiainterfaithcenter.org

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