First Lady Pamela Northam kicks off back to school tour in Southwest Virginia

Abingdon, VA (August 28, 2018) – On August 21 and 22, 2018, United Way of Southwest Virginia hosted Virginia First Lady, Pamela Northam for the southwestern portion of her listening tour.

Pamela Northam, Jenna Conway, and David Cary discuss recent successes with staff from Scott County Schools, Weber City Early Head Start, and United Way of Southwest Virginia.

Travis Staton, president and CEO of United Way of Southwest Virginia said, “First Lady Pamela Northam knows the impact of school readiness as an educator and advocate focused on childhood success. We were truly honored to host her visit to our region as the new school year begins for each of our students. School readiness is more than having a brand-new backpack; it starts at birth – years before the first day of kindergarten.”

Northam, along with Chief School Readiness Officer Jenna Conway, distributed books to multiple centers participating in United Way of Southwest Virginia’s Childhood Success initiatives including Virginia Quality, Smart Beginnings, Infant & Toddler Specialist Network, and Mixed Delivery: Oak Point Elementary in Smyth County, Childcare Network in Bristol, Weber City Early Head Start in Scott County, and New River Community Action Head Start in Giles County.

Northam also participated in a roundtable, sponsored by New Peoples Bank, focused on childhood success.

Todd Asbury, president and CEO of New Peoples Bank said, “I know Mrs. Northam returned home from our community having witnessed the desire – as a region – to unite together – all in the shared passion for the happiness, prosperity and fulfillment of our children. I believe we all would like to see our children have equal access to joyful and fulfilling work and to thrive right here in our region.”

Todd Asbury, president and CEO of New Peoples Bank, speaks at the Roundtable Breakfast.

The roundtable discussion focused on opportunities across Southwest Virginia that will help support the Commonwealth’s Children’s Cabinet. Roundtable participants included public school administrators, legislative representatives, nonprofit leaders, childcare providers, regional business representatives, and other Southwest Virginia stakeholders.

During the roundtable, Northam said, “We’ve been repeating what Jenna said yesterday: ‘Rural does not mean less.’ In fact, yesterday, we visited an early head start program nestled in an old industrial park in Scott County. We were happy to see that they had recent scores that showed they ranked among the highest in the nation. I’m so proud of them,” followed by a round of applause from the audience.

About United Way of Southwest Virginia
United Way of Southwest Virginia fights for the health, education and financial stability of every person in Southwest Virginia because they are the building blocks for a good quality of life. Through an initiative-based cradle-to-career approach, United Way of Southwest Virginia is creating sustainable solutions to address the challenges facing tomorrow’s workforce. United Way convenes cross-sector partners to make an impact on the most complex problems in our region. Through collaboration with government, business, nonprofit and individuals, United Way innovates for positive, lasting social change. With a footprint that covers nearly 17% of the state of Virginia, United Way of Southwest Virginia programs and initiatives serve the counties of Bland, Buchanan, Carroll, Dickenson, Giles, Grayson, Lee, Pulaski, Russell, Scott, Smyth, Tazewell, Washington, Wise, and Wythe, and the cities of Bristol, Galax, and Norton. For more information about United Way of Southwest Virginia, visit