Learn. Pray. Act.

Get Involved

Helping 400,000 Virginians get health insurance

About Us

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.

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.

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 are graduating from college this year.
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.

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.

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.

Karen Cameron

Virginia Consumer Voices 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.

Demetria Garden

Virginia Consumer Voices Volunteer Coordinator

Demetria Garden has worked as an advocate for those needing affordable healthcare coverage. She joined the Virginia Consumer Voices team after working as an In-Person Assister with Enroll Virginia. As an IPA, she conducted community outreach and enrolled persons into affordable healthcare coverage plans through the Affordable Care Act’s Marketplace, and Medicaid. She relocated from New Jersey to Virginia three years ago; bringing with her non -profit experience in employee training, coaching, and social work. She’s a graduate of Hofstra University in New York.

Cassandra Shaw

Virginia Consumer Voices
Outreach Coordinator

Cassandra V. Shaw is the executive director and founder of The Destined and Designed by Faith Outreach Ministries, a 501 (c) (3) organization. Cassandra is an ordained licensed minister and the chaplain for The Richmond Crusade for Voters, Inc. She serves as Labor and Industry chair and Religious Affairs of Richmond Branch NAACP, as well as executive vice president of the Richmond Chapter Southern Christian Leadership Conference. She is a member of Mount Gilead Full Gospel International Ministries and serves on Economic Empowerment Ministries staff. Known for her self-determination and energy, Cassandra is a firm believer in I Peter 4:10: “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others.”

Affiliate Partners

Virginia Consumer Voices for Healthcare

Consumer-focused coalition to support the expansion and improvement of health care in Virginia.
View Website

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

The Virginia state public policy office for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and are supported by Lutheran World Hunger.
View Website

Our Network

Newsletter Subscribers
Partner Organizations
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


In 2005 Julie Swanson became president and chief executive officer of Lutheran Family Ser-
vices of Virginia, which employs more than 440 people in 23 locations. She chairs the Virginia Nonprofit Leadership Council and the LSA Dis-
abilities Network. Before Virginia Julie worked at LFS in Denver, Tampa and the Virgin Islands, and coordinated the response efforts of the is-
land of St. Croix after Hurricane Hugo in 1989.

Mr. Davis Balderston


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. 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.

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.

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.

Chaplain Farhanahz Ellis

Farhanahz Ellis was born and raised in Panama in an interracial and interfaith family. She holds
Law and Political Science degrees and years of experience in the corporate world. A convert to
Islam, for ten years she has been the Interfaith & Outreach Director at the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) and a chaplain for the Muslim Campus Ministry at George Mason University.

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 the conference’s Peace With Justice Coordinator.

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.

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.

Policy Priorities

Together the Center and Virginia Consumer Voices (VCV) for Healthcare, a project of the Center, continue to focus on ensuring all Virginians have access to high-quality, affordable health care. We will continue to press for expanding Medicaid to reach the greatest number of people who fall into the health care coverage gap in Virginia. When lower- and moderate-income people gain health coverage, the burden of paying health-care bills is eased and they are able to focus on other pocketbook issues.

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.
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.
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


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.

Get Started


Pray for guidance and discernment. Should faith communities be involved in public policy? Yes! See our resource guide about the call to advocacy across Abrahamic Faith traditions. Other faith traditions also speak up for justice.

Get Started


Sign up for our emails, which include action alerts when you need to call your legislator and express your opinion as bills move through the General Assembly. Participate in denomination-specific lobby days and get connected through local chapters.

Get Started


Contribute by becoming an individual or congregational member of the Center. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support to help amplify our voices and achieve our vision of a more just and compassionate Commonwealth.

Get Started

Stay Updated

Upcoming Events

Jun 2016

Pre-Fathers' day Celebration – Sunday, June 12, 2016 at 2:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Faith-Based Conversations: How to Start an Urban Garden or Urban Farm – Thursday, June 23, 2016 at 9:00 am - 3:00 pm

Sep 2016

RVA Peace Festival – Saturday, September 10, 2016 at 11:00 am - 5:00 pm

See All Posts

Social Media

Our Newsletter

Join our email newsletter to get the latest updates delivered fresh to your inbox!

Get in Touch

We always love to hear from our supporters. Feel free to contact us during our business hours or make an appointment to meet with a member of our staff.


Monday – Friday 9am – 5pm

Saturday Closed

Sunday Closed


Address 1716 E. Franklin St. Richmond, VA 23223

Phone (804) 643-2474

Email office@virginiainterfaithcenter.org

Send Us a Message