© 2019 Thad Williamson. Authorized and Paid For By Thad Williamson For Richmond City Council.


A Track Record of Getting Things Done in Richmond

Effective public leadership must be rooted in caring about people, listening to the community AND having the courage to tackle tough problems.


After playing an instrumental role in the creation and development of the City's Office of Community Wealth Building (OCWB), Thad served as its first Director from June 2014 - May 2016. Under his leadership, the office coordinated the implementation of a series of initiatives involving workforce development, education, and housing and became a fully-staffed permanent city agency. It was the first of it's kind in the United States.

The main idea of OCWB is that Richmond must develop and implement a concerted strategy aimed at reducing poverty by building multiple forms of community wealth. This is an area that Thad is very passionate about - he believes that rather than simply wrestle with the consequences of poverty, we must address and alter the systems that produce it in the first place.  


In 2015, Richmond set a long-term goal of reducing poverty 40% by 2030, including a 50% reduction in child poverty. In that role, Thad worked with numerous agencies within City Hall: Richmond Public Schools, RRHA, Richmond City Health District, and GRTC. He also worked with Richmond City Council, community organizations, and the Maggie L. Walker Citizens Advisory Board.

In 2017, Thad returned to City Hall as a Senior Policy Advisor in the Mayor's office while continuing to teach full-time at the University of Richmond. Remaining in this role until June 2018, Thad led a number of key initiatives:

  • Development, community engagement process, and adoption of the RVA Education Compact - a new collaborative framework between the Mayor, City Council, and School Board aimed at improving communication and policymaking related to education, using a “Whole Child Framework.”

  • Worked with the Mayor, CAO, and administrative agencies to develop concrete plans to better meet agency goals, support implementation of policy priorities, and respond to organizational needs identified in the 2017 Performance Review.  

  • Helped secure additional funding for the Office of Community Wealth Building, additional funding for after-school programs for kids both through Parks and Recreation and through nonprofit program partners, and worked with the Budget department to revise and reform the City’s nondepartmental grant process to assure that grants to nonprofit agencies and external partners are aligned with the City’s strategic goals.


  • Fully staffed the Office of Community Wealth Building with talented professionals, defined the Office’s mission, and established a culture based on professionalism, service, and commitment to respecting and supporting all persons, especially fellow residents living below the poverty line

  • Expanded funding for the City’s Workforce Development initiatives, and helped create the innovative BLISS (Building Lives of Independence and Self-Sufficiency) program which combines workforce support with comprehensive, family-based wrap-around services

  • Worked with Richmond Public Library and Richmond Public Schools to establish the popular RVA Reads program in RPS pre-K centers, allowing children to take home one book a month ... and more, including securing a grant to support further early childhood initiatives in Richmond.

  • Secured City funding for the NextUp RVA after-school program; served on the Next Up Advisory Board.

  • Worked with Richmond Public Schools to secure City funding to establish the RVA Future Centers in all five comprehensive high schools; worked on details of program design and support of program launch; worked to secure ongoing funding.

  • Worked in collaboration with Richmond City Health District, RRHA and Richmond Opportunities, Inc., established a Family Transition Coach program to support Creighton Court residents and families planning to move to new housing.

  • Helped secure funding for the planning process leading to the GRTC Pulse and for capitalization of the Affordable Housing Trust Fund

  • Worked closely with local philanthropic, university and nonprofit leaders to work towards greater alignment between the City and the philanthropic sector and to support the community wealth building paradigm

  • Drafted ordinance establishing the Office of Community Wealth Building as a permanent city agency and defining its responsibilities, adopted unanimously by City Council 

  • Worked with Virginia First Cities to develop a state budget proposal to create a statewide initiative to provide matching funds to cities engaged in community wealth building initiatives; advocated for proposal and helped secure adoption in 2017, ultimately netting nearly $2 million a year for the City of Richmond.