For over 35 years Dr. Mark Emblidge has worked with governors, legislators, and education officials across the country to transform the life trajectories of young people and families through education. Mark has spent his career addressing inequities in the public education system that plague underprivileged communities by helping students overcome obstacles that impede success. He is a voice and a partner for lasting public policy changes that create a more equitable landscape for all children and their families.
With the help of U.S. Senator Mark Warner and former U.S. Senator George Allen, Mark started Communities In Schools of Virginia (CIS-VA) in 1999, where he currently serves as President and Founder. CIS-VA is a state affiliate of the national Communities In Schools organization, which is the largest private school dropout prevention program in the U.S. Since its inception, CIS-VA has worked with hundreds of thousands of Virginia’s vulnerable students to help them to stay in school and graduate. CIS-VA has had the bipartisan support of the last seven governors of Virginia and has received financial support for over nine years from the Virginia General Assembly.
Pursuing his lifelong interest in promoting literacy across the lifespan, Mark became the founding executive director of the Virginia Literacy Foundation (VLF) in Richmond, Virginia, which he established with Virginia’s former first lady Jeannie Baliles in 1987, a position he continues to hold to this day. As the first in the nation statewide public/private initiative directed at reducing illiteracy, the VLF provides grants and technical advice and training to Virginia’s community-based and faith-based literacy organizations. Mark established and served as the first director of the Virginia Literacy Institute at Virginia Commonwealth University which provides technical assistance and training to early childhood and adult education teachers and literacy coaches across Virginia. During the George W. Bush administration the Virginia Literacy Institute received a series of Early Reading First Grants from the United States Department of Education totaling over $13 million.
From 2012 -2018 Mark worked on education policy issues concerning children and families in poverty as a professor of practice at the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education and Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy. Working in partnership with the Southern Regional Education Board, Mark led a series of education commissions made up of governors, state legislators, and education leaders from sixteen southern states. Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, these commissions dealt with issues that ranged from strengthening early childhood education and improving adolescent literacy to restructuring teacher preparation programs in the U.S.
Mark’s work in education and literacy includes extensive public service. He was voted onto the first elected City of Richmond School Board in 1994, and subsequently served for four terms, including three as chairman. In 2002 Mark was appointed to the Virginia Board of Education and was reappointed in January 2010 to be the board’s president. Additional federal service includes two terms (one as chair) on the National Institute for Literacy board of directors, a U.S. State Department fellowship to serve as education advisor to the U.S. special envoy to Sudan, and appointed to serve on the U.S. Commission to UNESCO (United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization). Mark also served as the Chairman of The Virginia Library Board of Directors as well as the President of the Virginia Public Broadcasting Board.
Mark spent a year working for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association serving as program director for an international conference held in Amsterdam, Netherlands for itinerant evangelists representing 175 countries around the world.
Mark resides in Richmond, Virginia with his wife, Robbie. They have two grown daughters Catherine and Caroline.