2019 Jazz 4 Justice Guest Conductor Mayor Levar M. Stoney
Levar M. Stoney was sworn in as Richmond’s 80th Mayor on Dec. 31, 2016. He is the youngest mayor ever elected to serve the city.
Mayor Stoney was raised in Virginia by his grandmother and his father, a custodian. A product of Virginia public schools, he grew up on the free and reduced lunch program and was the first in his family to earn a high school diploma. He went on to graduate from James Madison University before moving to Richmond to begin a career in public service, which started as a Governor’s Fellow in former Governor Mark Warner’s administration.
Mayor Stoney participated in the prestigious Minority Political Leadership Institute at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in 2006 and became the political director of the Democratic Party of Virginia that same year. He quickly rose to become executive director, then serving as the youngest leader of a state Democratic Party in the country and at a most transformative time for the state, which led to President Obama’s historic Virginia and national victory in 2008.
Mayor Stoney went on to serve as the deputy campaign manager for Terry McAuliffe’s successful gubernatorial campaign in 2013 and became the first African-American Secretary of the Commonwealth and youngest member of Governor McAuliffe’s cabinet.
While serving in Governor McAuliffe’s administration, he led the transformation of Virginia’s civil and voting rights restoration process, restoring more rights than any other state in the nation and more than the past seven Virginia administrations combined.
Following his historic election as mayor in 2016, Mayor Stoney initiated a number of long-term improvement projects aimed at building “One Richmond.” His first budget doubled support for the Office of Community Wealth Building, while his second and most recent budget included $150 million for new school construction, other new and increased investments in Richmond Public Schools (RPS) and increased investments in the Affordable Housing Trust Fund and Richmond Police Department. He launched RVA Green 2050 and issued a mayoral directive protecting rights of all immigrants in the City of Richmond.
Mayor Stoney created and sponsored meaningful programs for RPS students and Richmond youth, including an Education Compact responsible for identifying and remedying obstacles facing Richmond youth. He worked to ensure all RPS students are provided access to vision screenings and corrective eyewear, in addition to establishing a public-private partnership providing students with access to wireless technology critical to their success in school.
During his term, Mayor Stoney and the City of Richmond have earned significant accolades. Richmond has been named the #2 Top Place Millennials are Moving by Time Magazine, one of the South’s Best Cities by Southern Living and a Top 5 rising U.S. City where homeownership is affordable by Curbed.com.
The Richmond Times Dispatch recognized Mayor Stoney as Person of the Year in 2016 and he was named a Politico Rising Star in 2017. He was also one of just four U.S. mayors selected to the 2018 class of Daniel Rose Land Use Fellows.
Mayor Stoney serves on a number of civic and community boards, including the VCU Massey Cancer Center Advisory Board, Great Aspirations Scholarship Program (GRASP) and the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation 2019 Commemoration, among others. He is also a proud member of Richmond Crusade for Voters and the NAACP.