Every once in a while, we’ll find a local Richmonder we’d all like to know a bit more about. We ask the same questions each time, and the answers are just for you.
This month we caught up with former First Lady of Virginia Anne Holton (whose husband Tim Kaine was recently selected by Hillary Clinton to run as vice president). When we talked to Anne, she was on the U.S. Senate campaign trail for her husband of nearly twenty-eight years, Tim Kaine. While her role as a juvenile district court judge had kept her sidelined from Kaine’s previous races (for mayor of Richmond and governor of Virginia), the daughter of former Governor Linwood Holton is no stranger to political life. Today, she serves as the secretary of education for Virginia.
“I certainly grew up in a more political household than Tim, but both our families taught us the importance of public service – and that common value drew us together 30 years ago and has helped keep our relationship strong.”
Throughout her years as a juvenile judge and as Virginia’s First Lady, Holton has dedicated her career to advocating for Virginia families and children. Her signature initiative as First Lady, For Keeps: Families for all Virginia Teens, helped Virginia strengthen its foster care system, particularly for older children and those at risk of entering foster care. “I have always felt a connection to families and children, and to how we help young people who are at-risk have a chance for a successful life,” said Holton. “I was thrilled to help Virginia develop policies to support our young people, and I am continuing that work now as a policy consultant for the Annie E. Casey Foundation.”
For Holton, who spent many years of her childhood in the Executive Mansion, her return to the Mansion in 2005 with Kaine, their three kids, Nat, Woody, and Annella, and the family dog, Gina, was truly a homecoming.
But as she and Kaine have continued to lead busy lives, she says it’s a strong sense of tradition that has anchored the family. “We maintained a commitment to family dinner even when Tim was busy with political life,” says Holton. “We ate together at least three or four times a week, and everyone had to share something about their day before they could be excused.”
With the youngest of her three children finishing high school this year, Holton says she can’t believe how fast the time flies, but that she couldn’t be more proud. “While it was hard to let go, they’re now at the stage where we can learn from them,” says Holton. “It’s a pleasure to sit back and watch—and enjoy it!”
Wouldn’t you like to know a little bit more about Anne Holton?
Dogs or cats? I always had dogs growing up, so I’m a dog person. We adopted our Terrier, Gina, from the SPCA and she’s been a part of the family for seven years. Actually, it’s a funny story, Gina was the result of a promise to our kids that after Tim finished running for Governor, we’d get a dog. Tim and I were thinking, maybe some time the following spring, but the kids were ready the day after Election Day. So we went that Wednesday.
What book is on your nightstand right now? I really enjoy reading, so there are always several books on my nightstand. Next up is a suggestion from my mother – All the Little Live Things by Wallace Stegner.
If you were stranded on a desert island, what food would you want to grow on trees? That one’s easy – Hanover tomatoes.
Same island – what’s the one tech gadget you would want with you? Definitely my E-reader with lots of books already downloaded onto it.
What’s the last play or musical you saw in Richmond? Our daughter, Annella, is very involved in her high school’s theater program, so I have a chance to see lots of shows. One recent one was a musical review called an “Evening of Broadway” at the Appomatox Governor’s School.
Favorite Richmond restaurant for the whole family? This is a really tough one. Since we’ve lived in Richmond for so long now, we have a lot of favorites – there are so many great local spots. But if I had to pick one with particular sentimental value, I’d say Stir Crazy, a cute café we often stop at on our way home from church.
When it’s just you and your honey? Again, Richmond is such a great place to eat that we always have so many good options. But we have had many lovely evenings at Amuse, the restaurant at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.
What is your favorite way to spend a rainy Sunday? I like to stay home and read a book with Tim, and spend time with the family.
What is your absolute favorite vacation spot? I absolutely love Douthat State Park out in the Allegheny Mountains – particularly the beautiful campground by the lake where we’ve been going for years with our friends on Memorial Day weekend.
What is your energy source? I draw my energy from my faith and from the inspiration of friends and family. I have such a wonderful support system, and I am constantly trying to look for and draw from the best in other people.
Finish this sentence: “My family loves it when I…occasionally sit back and let others be in charge.”
Readers will be surprised to know…I lift weights at the gym at least three times a week!