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2017 Understanding

Government Forums  

The Road Forward’s highly praised “Understanding Government” forums of 2017 featured over 20 speakers whose credentials include illustrious careers in public administration, policing, and elective office, and distinguished service in education, planning, criminal justice and other functions of government. 


With a simple click, you can watch the video of any forum. We encourage you to do so. You are sure to learn many things you didn’t know about your government.

Forum 1.  A Tutorial on Local Government

Virginia’s unique history and structure of local governments, as well as fascinating local history and amusing stories are shared by three speakers who bring over 100 years of experience managing local government to the forum. 

Larry Davis

Albemarle County Attorney, 1994-2016

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Albemarle County Administrator, 1991-2010

Robert Tucker

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Cole Hendrix

Charlottesville City Manager, 1971-1996

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Forum 2.  The Virginia Commonwealth: How It Serves Our Community and Our Local Governments. 

The relationship between state and local government both empowers and constrains localities and frustrates innovation at the local level, according to these forum speakers, who approach the topic from three distinct points-of-view.   

John Thomas

Former Director, Institute of GovernmentWeldon Cooper Center at UVA

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David Toscano

Member, Virginia House of Delegates


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David Blount

Legislative Liaison, Thomas Jefferson Planning District

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Forum 3.  Regionalism:  Jurisdictions Working Together to Develop Effective Solutions.

This forum is about tackling issues that are larger than a single jurisdiction, as told by elected officials from two localities with a complex history of cooperation and conflict, and planners who have forged significant cooperative agreements between multiple jurisdictions. 

Diantha McKeel

Member and Former Chairwoman, Albemarle County Board of Supervisors

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Michael Signer

Charlottesville City Council, Former Charlottesville Mayor

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Nancy O’Brien

Former Charlottesville Mayor, Former Executive Director, Thomas Jefferson Planning District

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Charles P. "Chip" Boyles

Executive Director, Thomas Jefferson Planning District

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Forum 4.  Public Education:  Meeting the Needs of Our Children in Today’s Challenging Times. 

Public Education is local government’s most expensive, and arguably, most important function. This forum examines how public schools are meeting ever-changing challenges such as multiple student languages and cultures and racial disparities in achievement, as described by leading area educators and current and former school board members.

Juandiego Wade

Member and Former Chair, Charlottesville School Board


Robyn Bolling

Principal, Greer Elementary School

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Billy Haun

Executive Director, Virginia High School League


Brian Wheeler

Albemarle County School Board, 2004-2010

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Forum 5.  Law Enforcement and the Criminal Justice System

Almost by definition, these topics mean “trouble!” and evoke strong opinions. Forum speakers from the police, prosecutor, public defense and courts demonstrate the role of each and their interrelationships, and air opinions on mass incarceration, ICE, drug and mental health courts, community/police relations and other issues.

Timothy Longo

Charlottesville Chief of Police, 2001-2016


Jim Hingeley

Public Defender for Charlottesville and Albemarle County, 1998-2016

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Dave Chapman

Charlottesville Commonwealth's Attorney, 1994-2017

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Jon Zug

Clerk of Albemarle County, Circuit Court

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Forum 6.  How Zoning and Land Use Planning Shape the World Around Us

At its best, comprehensive land use planning depends upon community input and engagement, yet many citizens scarcely understand how zoning and land use regulations work. This forum provides a framework for citizen action as well as official decision-making, approached from three very different perspectives. 

Kathy Galvin

Charlottesville City Council, Architect and Urban Planner

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Jeff Werner

AICP, Preservation and Design Planner, City of Charlottesville


Neil Williamson

President and Executive Director, The Free Enterprise Forum

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