Mrs. Jeannie P. Baliles
VLF Board Director
Former First Lady of Virginia
Jeannie P. Baliles, Founder of the Virginia Literacy Foundation, and former First Lady of Virginia, was born in North Carolina and raised near Baltimore. She took her undergraduate degrees in history from Washington College and Wesleyan University. She taught history until the birth of her first child, and then stayed home to raise her children, Laura and Jonathan.
When she became First Lady of Virginia in 1986, she immediately named fighting illiteracy as a major project she would undertake. That same year, she oversaw the founding of the Virginia Literacy Foundation and has served as its chair ever since. It was Jeannie’s vision to create a public-private partnership that would oversee and prevent overlapping services among all community-based literacy organizations throughout the state.
The Foundation also partnered with the State Department of Education in the Virginia Literacy Initiative to encourage the spread of family and workplace literacy programs in the commonwealth. This model was unprecedented in the nation, and 36 years later, she is still the active chair of the organization, which has seen the community-based literacy organizations it supports flourish, along with the adults and families they have served and the communities in which they operate.
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. Read Mark’s Full Bio