Lea Whitehurst-Gibson

Executive Director

Lea Whitehurst-Gibson is a seasoned community organizer. Prior to leading Virginia Community Voice, Lea was the Director of Community Engagement at Thriving Cities Group. She also worked for Richmonders Involved to Strengthen our Communities (RISC) where she organized 1,000 people in 20 diverse congregations to stand together for just practices. Lea has a degree in theology from Elim Bible College. At VACV Lea oversees the organization’s operations, staff and board development, and co-leads Community Voice Blueprint training and coaching. Lea and her husband are foster parents and live in Jackson Ward. Contact Lea at lea@vacommunityvoice.org. Contact Lea at lea@vacommunityvoice.org.


Elaine Williams


Elaine Williams is an experienced activist, advocate, and youth housing stability researcher. She has a B.A. in Social Work from VCU and co-founded Change The World RVA. Prior to serving as RVA Thrives Director, Elaine was the Community Engagement Assistant at Thriving Cities Group, and has past experience working at the YWCA. When not working, you might find Elaine learning calligraphy, or facilitating tough conversations. Contact Elaine at elaine@vacommunityvoice.org


Bekah Kendrick

Strategic Partnerships DIRECTOR

Bekah Kendrick is an experienced nonprofit professional, grantmaker, and grant writer. Prior to serving in this role, she was a Technical & Grant Writer for Thriving Cities Group. Bekah has a Bachelors in American Studies from The College of William & Mary and Master’s in English from Virginia Commonwealth University. She manages development and communications for Virginia Community Voice, and co-leads Community Voice Blueprint training and coaching. Bekah enjoys reading, gardening, and being near the water with her husband. Contact Bekah at bekah@vacommunityvoice.org.


Rodney Gaines


Rodney Gaines is a 40 year resident of Davee Gardens. Prior to serving as RVA Thrives Collaboration Coordinator, Rodney worked for UPS for 14 years and started with RVA Thrives as a Community Advocate in 2017. Rodney is a small business owner, offering mobile hair cuts around the City of Richmond. Rodney does community outreach, neighbor engagement, and leads the work on jobs access. Rodney enjoys gardening and recently completed the Ginter Urban Gardeners program. Contact Rodney at rodney@vacommunityvoice.org.


Deborah Keys

RVA Thrives Community Advocate

Ms. Deborah is native of Caroline County but has lived for most of her life in Richmond, and is currently a resident of Hillside Court. Ms. Deborah joined RVA Thrives as a Community Advocate in 2016. She is very involved with her church Broomfield CME Church, serves on the Hillside Court Tenant Council, and is a leader in her community. With RVA Thrives, Ms. Deborah does community outreach, neighbor engagement, and supports the office staff. Contact Ms. Deborah at deborah@vacommunityvoice.org.


Florencia Fuensalida

RVA Thrives Community Advocate

Florencia Fuensalida is originally from Chile, South America. She moved to the United States when she was 17 years old, where she finished High School and later attended the University of Maryland, College Park, to acquire a Bachelor’s Degree in Family Science. She is fluent in both English and Spanish. After graduating from college, Florencia returned to Chile and worked for marginalized families and women for three years implementing life skills programs. She returned to the US in 2010, and has been working with the Latinx Community, providing social services and performing outreach ever since. She also acquired a degree in Personal Coaching, which she has used as a way to equip others to move in the direction they desire in their lives.

Contact Florencia at florencia@vacommunityvoice.org.


Virginia Mejiaortiz

RVA Thrives Community Advocate

Contact Virginia at virginia@vacommunityvoice.org.


Dana Kiernan

Data Anaylyst

Dana is an experienced data analyst and researcher, providing support across all VACV projects. Prior to joining VACV, Dana worked as a data and research analyst for the Thriving Cities Group, focusing on jobs access along the Jefferson-Davis Corridor. Dana earned a Bachelor’s degree from The Catholic University of America and her graduate degrees from the University of Virginia’s Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy and the School of Medicine Public Health Program. Prior to graduate school, Dana supported the Department of Homeland Security ensuring compliance with biosafety and biosecurity regulations. Dana lives in Eugene, Oregon with her husband and two dogs. Contact Dana at dana@vacommunityvoice.org.



Virginia Community Voice Board of Directors

Megan Juelfs, Ph.D. // Nelson Reveley, Ph.D. // Ebony Walden