Posted on Monday, January 20, 2014

VCCS Blog

“Leadership is not about titles, positions or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing another.”

― John C. Maxwell

Anne Holton influenced many lives as director of the Great Expectations (GE) program while dispensing copious amounts of hope to scores of foster youth around Virginia.

Since joining the organization in early 2013, Holton led fundraising efforts that generated nearly $1million in private and corporate donations. That’s quite an accomplishment for a non-profit organization that’s only now emerging from its infancy.

“When you’re doing great work like this, folks are eager to be helpful.” Holton said. “We’ve had a terrific year, we’ve had great staff, we’ve had wonderful coaches and students who helped us tell the (GE) story.”

When it launched in the fall of 2008, the GE program had only a handful of participating schools. But the program quickly grew in popularity and now boasts a total of 17 community colleges. Holton is eager to see that number climb even higher.

“We hope to soon be at all of the colleges so that we can help young people all across the state.”

Holton attributes the success of Great Expectations to what she calls the “single-minded focus on student success.”

“That’s really the magic of how the program works,” she noted. “It’s a high touch, intensive support program in a very personal way for the students.”

Jennifer Gentry – vice chancellor for Institutional Advancement for the Virginia Community College System – credits Holton with boosting the organization’s profile and bringing a renewed focus to one of the state’s most vulnerable populations – current and former foster youth.

“Her impact will continue through the lives of our current and future students, as well as staff and volunteers.”

Anne Holton

Even though she’s taken on a new role – that of Secretary of Education in the McAuliffe administration – Holton says she remains very much committed to GE.

“What Governor McAuliffe has asked me to do in this role is to help raise up the perspective of our young people most in need of a boost from education and to make sure that we are keeping them front and center in all the decision-making we do.  So, in my new role, it will be part of my job to help our young people coming out of foster care and helping GE is one way to do that.”

While the former First Lady of Virginia won’t be involved in the search process, at least not directly, she does have some meaningful advice to offer her successor. 

“Stay focused on access and success. If you stay focused on those two goal posts, you’ll always be moving in the right direction.”

To learn more about the Great Expectations program and how you can help, please visit our website at http://greatexpectations.vccs.edu/.

Craig Butterworth

A native of Richmond, Craig Butterworth is an award-winning broadcast journalist and communications professional. He has worked as a spokesperson, staff writer and editor for a variety of non-profit and for-profit organizations throughout the Richmond area.

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