"Don't think about it, just do it; just get in there."
Rep. Jennifer Carroll Foy was one of the historic 13 women who flipped seats in the VA state legislature from red to blue in the 2017 election, which opened the door for Democrats to take over the body in 2019. Since then, she has advocated for health care reform, including Medicaid expansion, criminal justice reform, and introduced the Equal Rights Amendment in the VA Legislature, which was later passed. She is currently running for Governor of Virginia, and if elected will be the first woman governor of Virginia and the first Black woman governor in the country. Jennifer graduated from the Virginia Military Institute and was in one of the first classes to ever allow woman cadets.Name: Jennifer Carroll Foy
Location: Woodbridge, VA
Role: Virginia Delegate and Candidate for Governor
Coalition(s): African American, woman, mother
Social Media: @jennifercarrollfoy
Can you tell us about the office you are running for/your current elected position? I am running to be the next Governor of Virginia. The goal of our campaign is to not only elect Jennifer Carroll Foy the next Governor of Virginia, but to lift up communities that have traditionally been left behind and empower a new generation of progressive leaders to leave Virginia in a better place than when we started. In 2017, I took my commitment to service to the Virginia House of Delegates. As Delegate, I have led the charge to clean up toxic coal ash ponds across the commonwealth, pass the Diversifying the Teacher Workforce Act, and expand rural broadband.
What made you decide to run for office? After being one of the first female graduates of the Virginia Military Institute and serving for years as a public defender, I realized that I needed to take my service to the Virginia Legislature. I saw the hundreds of thousands of Virginians without health care, the toxic coal ash polluting our water, and the women (like myself) who had to go back to work just a day or two after giving birth. Our future demands a leader with the bold vision, creativity, and stubborn tenacity to fight for what’s right and never take no for an answer when serving Virginians. The ideas of the past just won’t do. I’m running for governor because in this moment, we can’t settle for band-aid policies that get us from one crisis to the next. We need to focus on actually solving the problems facing working families. I’m running for Governor so that my two-year-old twin boys don’t have to make the same sacrifices my family had to make. I’ll work to improve Virginia’s economy - for everyone not just those at the top.
What is the most important issue you are focusing on in your campaign? As a public defender, I have seen the injustices in our policing and criminal justice system up close. As Governor, I will immediately get to work to dismantle centuries of racial injustice in Virginia. We can’t settle for leaders who don’t see historic injustices like police brutality as the real issues they are. I have dedicated my life to giving a voice to the voiceless. I became a public defender because I witnessed how our legal system disproportionately punishes those of particular races, incomes, and zip codes and gave a voice to the people often cast aside by society — children, people suffering from addiction, those experiencing homelessness, those with mental illness, and the poor. I cannot wait to continue that fight as governor.
Why is the leadership of Black women needed right now? We need more women in office, particularly Black women. Women were responsible for the Virginia’s legislature’s flip, and while in office, we led the charge to expand Medicaid, ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, and enact common sense gun safety legislation. It is also additionally important that, as our Commonwealth and our nation has the racial reckoning we are currently witnessing, we lift up the leadership of Black women. Black women are the backbone of the Democratic Party, which is why we must have an increased role in shaping the Party’s future.
What advice would you give other women who want to get involved in their community or who want to run for office? Don't think about it, just do it; just get in there. Have a good conversation with the people closest to you because you'll be bringing them along for the ride, and it will impact their lives as well as yours. You will need that support. In order to change the face of politics and make sure that our interests are protected, we must work hard for women and working families and children and better our communities and society. We can't wait for someone else to do it, we can't sit on the sidelines. And we have to get in the game and make it happen. So I would say, 'Grab a friend and become a candidate.'