2013 Richmond History Makers Honorees

Creating Quality Educational Opportunities

Harriet Scruggs
Executive Director, The READ Center

“Harriet Scruggs’ work is worthy of recognition because of the heartfelt passion she has that every adult, regardless of race or social standing, age, or previous experience, has the right to learn to read.”

–Michelle Harrington, Nominator

Harriet Scruggs has contributed her administrative talents to seven non-profits throughout her career, and is currently the Executive Director of The READ Center (Reading and Education for Adult Development, Inc.), a 30-year old nonprofit that provides instruction for adults who cannot read or are struggling readers.   Under Harriet’s leadership, the number of trained tutors and donors has increased, and student and tutor retention has grown significantly. Annually, the organization offers low-level literacy services that are in great demand to 240-379 adult learners with the help of over 175 volunteer tutors.  Harriet has guided staff in installing a student-centered assessment model that helps adult learners identify their personal literacy goals and allows instructional staff to track goal progress throughout the program.  Her focus on changing lives through literacy has had a significant impact on the lives of READ students. She has helped to promote creative teaching, built new funding partnerships, and generated greater donor and volunteer interest in The READ Center, all while encouraging and honoring students.

Demonstrating Innovative Solutions

Nicole Anderson Ellis

“Nicole Anderson Ellis’ work is worthy of recognition in so many realms that it was very difficult to choose a category. She walks the walk. Many of us talk of improving our communities; some of us even dream of what it could be…Ms. Ellis makes things happen.”

–Sharon Larkins-Pederson, Nominator

Nicole Anderson Ellis is a teacher, writer and activist dedicated to spreading awareness of the profitability of sustainability.  Her writing awards include the Phil E. Reed Environmental Writing Award for the story “Land Grab,” which explored escalating rates of land loss in the Richmond region.  Researching this story led her to become an advocate for managed growth on farm and forestland.  As a Director on the Henricopolis Soil and Water Conservation District Board, she helped pass a resolution to assist Henrico landowners in protecting their property as open space.  She co-founded the New Market Corridor Coalition, which unites communities across the Richmond region in the common goal of profiting from our remaining rural landscapes. In 2012, the Coalition educated regional leaders about a proposal to make scenic Route 5 a four-lane divided highway.  The Coalition is now collaborating with the Department of Tourism, local businesses, and land owners to capitalize on the East End’s untapped potential as a major tourism draw.

Encouraging Regional Collaboration

Smart Beginnings Greater Richmond

“Smart Beginnings is helping everyone in our community value our youngest citizens. We’re getting the message that learning starts at birth and that the most important development in a child’s life starts early.” 

–Lisa Specter-Dunaway, Nominator

At first glance you might not realize it, but Smart Beginnings Greater Richmond is actually a workforce development initiative aimed at a population that’s not even old enough to attend school. The premise: succeeding in school and in life begins as early as birth. The challenge:  generating enough public will to support lasting change across the region, because isolated programs, no matter how effective, cannot create lasting change on their own. Led by the Greater Richmond Chamber and United Way of Greater Richmond and Petersburg, SBGR is a regional coalition of public and private organizations, businesses, and citizens working together to improve the school readiness of all children. The origin of this group dates back to the late 1990’s when efforts to improve youth literacy were paramount. With a research-based focus on early childhood development, a regional plan was developed in 2009. Implementation of the plan continues today, with accomplishments demonstrating that the region is working together in ways that have never been seen before. Smart Beginnings’ guidance led to ground breaking collaborations that include: 14 school systems agreeing on a region-wide kindergarten registration day which resulted in better preparation of children, families and schools; 3 localities sharing and adopting a Positive Parenting public awareness campaign which resulted in increased efficiencies for parents seeking information; and school representatives working with Kings Dominion to develop early learning signage for families in the theme park which resulted in raising awareness that learning is fun. These examples highlight Smart Beginnings success in increasing public will for the early childhood issue by making people think about, care about and have the ability to act on the issue.  This change in public will is critical to achieving the organization’s goal that all children ages birth to 5 in our region are ready to succeed in school and in life.

Improving Social Justice

Janet Eddy, MD
Bon Secours Richmond Care-A-Van

“Dr. Janet Eddy…has changed the face of health care in the region…From leading free clinics to uniting physicians across the city to form a network of specialists willing to care for those without the means to pay, Dr. Eddy had dedicated her life to connecting the dots to form a safety net for those most in need” 

–Ann Carpin, Nominator

Dr. Janet Eddy has been the medical director of the Bon Secours Richmond Health Care System’s Care-A-Van Mobile Health Outreach program since 2008, and has worked in local safety net clinics since 1990. Since, she has expanded the program to better serve the needs of the uninsured in Richmond. The program has grown from more than 8,000 patient visits in 2009 to more than 12,000 in 2012. The program goes into patients’ neighborhoods and provides primary medical care. Dr. Eddy brought a group of local safety net medical directors together, and worked with the Richmond Academy of Medicine to form Access Now, a network of physicians and surgeons who provide care to the uninsured, which has helped address a serious public health issue. Over 900 physicians volunteer to see patients for treatment and care. For over two years, the idea of Access Now was discussed, but Dr. Eddy along with the executive director of Richmond Academy of Medicine pushed for the idea and made it a reality.

Promoting Stronger Communities

The Middle College Program
J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College

“There are young people eager to learn and to work but stymied by weak academic skills and, sometimes, parenting responsibilities beyond their current capacity to meet. The Middle College Program…shines a bright light on the potential of these young men and women to achieve.”

–Marianne McGhee, Nominator

The Middle College Program, through J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College, helps young adults, 18-24, earn a GED, transition to post-secondary coursework or training, and learn a practical job skill.  Tutoring and referrals to other community services are provided for an additional 300 young men and women, mostly from the City of Richmond.  Middle College is a four-month program, where students receive GED instruction, participate in a college orientation, learn about financial aid planning, and take a one-credit course called “Preparation for Employment.” Benefitting from intensive and personalized instruction, it is the student’s work ethic that ultimately determines her or his success.  Since 2003, more than 800 students have enrolled in Middle College; 76% have graduated and earned a GED, with nearly half continuing their education – an amazing achievement, as Middle College receives no direct state funding and is supported by grants and private philanthropy.  The pride of the students and their families on graduation day is indescribable. The program gives stability, skills, and hope to our young people, changing their lives and our communities for the better.