The Diversity Declaration

Government of the People, by the People, and for the People

Diversity Matters Partners with Virginia Leadership Institute

“Gaining a Seat at the Political Table”

Diversity Matters is pleased to announce our alliance with Virginia Leadership Institute. VLI was created in 2006 with the specific goal of increasing the number of African-American elected and appointed officials. VLI holds trainings, offers consultations and runs a fellowship program for community leaders, with the goal of diversifying the voices at the political table, resulting in better public policy for us all.

VLI is a natural ally for Diversity Matters. We admire the work that VLI does to engage and recruit non-traditional candidates and encourage them to run for public office. In Virginia, African Americans are 19% of the voting age population, yet are only 8% of all elected officials. Unfortunately, several other states do not fare much better.

VLI’s approach:

Expose more youth and adults to politics – African Americans are often raised to pursue more civic oriented extracurricular activities and steered away from politics.

Inspire and motivate – VLI has observed that many African Americans do not have faith in government or the political system. VLI raises awareness and interest in running for office, serving on commissions and working on campaigns.

Provide more opportunities to network, learn and engage-VLI offers and cosponsors trainings and events.

Provide and encourage campaign experience – VLI encourages those interested in politics to work on campaigns to learn the basics, access community leaders, and learn key issues which affect their community.

VLI’s record to date:

  • 30 VLI affiliated candidates have run for office;
  • 10 were elected; and
  • 10 received commission appointments.
  • Awarded 6 leadership development scholarships

VLI is now expanding to reach potential leaders throughout the mid-Atlantic states. For more information on the Virginia Leadership Institute, please visit or contact