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Two women with local ties help to chart course ahead

As the nation and Virginia begin the challenging process of figuring out how best to get back to work once it’s safe to do so in the wake of COVID-19, two women with local ties are part of the effort to chart that course.

Kay Coles James

Kay Coles James, founder and board chair of The Gloucester Institute and president of The Heritage Foundation, has been placed at the helm of a group charged with providing the federal government recommendations for getting the U.S. back to work.

Kay Cole James

As chair of the National Coronavirus Recovery Commission, James has held two meetings thus far, with a third scheduled for May 5. According to the commission’s first report, issued on April 20, the task force will be determining “how to weigh the competing factors associated with crisis mitigation” and “how to determine the best way to transition to recovery and restoring normal lives.”

“The challenge at hand is a public health crisis with unprecedented implications,” according to the report. “At this point in the progression of COVID-19, good public health policy is good policy: Americans’ normal lives will rebound when the American people are healthy and confident in the public health response.”

The report says further that decisions being considered by policymakers “will significantly impact the scope of this crisis and the duration of social restrictions, economic hardship, recovery, and the potential permanent effects.”

James’s background in public policy and leadership is extensive. She served as the director of the Office of Personnel Management under President George W. Bush and also served in the administrations of President George H.W. Bush and Virginia Governor George Allen. She has served on many boards and is a member of the National Association of Corporate Directors.

The commission’s report, “Saving Lives and Livelihoods: Recommendations for Recovery,” is available in full at
The Gloucester Institute continues the work and memory of Dr. Robert Russa Moton through programs, activities and maintenance of his historic home, Holly Knoll, located on the banks of the York River near Cappahosic.

The Heritage Foundation is a conservative think tank “dedicated to formulating and promoting conservative public policies.”

Jenny Crittenden

Jenny Crittenden

Jenny Crittenden, executive director of the Gloucester Main Street Preservation Trust, was appointed last week by Gov. Ralph Northam to Virginia’s statewide COVID-19 Business Task Force.

Crittenden is among two dozen people the governor has tapped from across the state to represent a variety of business interests. A press release from the governor’s office said that the businesses include “restaurants, breweries, wineries, small and large retailers, fitness centers, hair salons, barber shops, spas and estheticians, museums, hospitality groups, campgrounds, and entertainment venues.”

Brick and mortar retail is the area that Crittenden was asked to represent on the task force. She said her perspective comes from “working with small business retail for the last 14 years” in her capacity as executive director of the Main Street Preservation Trust.

The task force is working with staff from the governor’s office whose areas of expertise are commerce and trade, workforce development, and health and human resources, said Crittenden, adding that the recommendations she and other task force members make to the governor’s staff will be used to develop guidelines that will be used throughout the state to help businesses reopen.

“These are Virginians who are thinking every day about how to protect the health of their staff and the communities in which they operate,” Northam said. “They understand that our public health and business interests are aligned … Their input will continue to be critical as we plan a safe, consistent, successful path forward.”