Andrea Archer, Class of 2014
Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer, Altria Client Services LLC
What is new and exciting with you now or since your time with Lead Virginia?
Since graduating from Lead Virginia, I became Chair of the Advisory Board for Higher Achievement Richmond and assumed a new role as Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer for Altria.
How did Lead Virginia shape you as a leader?
Lead Virginia helped me realize that real leadership in Virginia requires more than a keen understanding of your immediate community or region. Real change happens when leaders capitalize on strengths and opportunities across the regions for the Commonwealth.
Since Lead Virginia, how have you put your social capital to work?
I am most proud of my partnership with fellow Lead Virginia alumni, Jennifer Doss, the former Director of Tourism for the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corporation. Through our collaboration, we were able to expose a group of Richmond middle school children to educational and cultural opportunities in Patrick Henry County. Before my time with Lead Virginia, I had no idea how progressive the educational system and cultural programs are in Patrick Henry County. I was totally blown away by the number of resources and opportunities this Commonwealth has to offer.
What were your expectations of Lead Virginia prior to beginning the program? Did the program exceed or meet your expectations?
Before starting the program, I thought the experience would be focused on networking among participants. I did not expect to be exposed to communities I would never have explored on my own and learn what each region really has to offer.
What was your biggest takeaway or lesson learned from Lead Virginia that continues to stick with you today?
My biggest takeaway is that ignorance is not bliss when it comes to understanding what each region within the Commonwealth has to offer and that it’s important to continually learn more about each region’s economy.