Hillary Clinton announced today on Twitter that Democratic Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia has been chosen as her vice presidential running mate. Kaine’s wife, Anne Holton, is no stranger to political life and public service.
Here’s what you need to know about the wife of the Democratic vice presidential candidate.
1. Holton Is The Virginia Secretary of Education
Holton became Secretary of Education of Virginia in January 2014. Born and raised in Virginia, 58 year-old Holton attended school in Richmond where, in 1970, her family helped to integrate the public school system. Holton and Kaine sent all three of their children to Richmond City Public Schools.
She expressed her strong support for public education in a 2015 interview with the Richmond Times-Dispatch saying: “I got a great education in the city, and I’ve always been an advocate for it.” Earlier that year, Holton gave a TEDx Talk, above, in which she talked about her personal and professional passion for the public school system in Richmond.
When Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe named Holton to the Secretary of Education position, he highlighted her experience and her dedication to the school system:
Anne Holton’s lifetime of experience with Virginia public schools, her public service on behalf of Virginia students and her passion for creating opportunity for all of our kids make her the best choice to join my administration as Secretary of Education.
Holton also expressed her excitement at the appointment:
I am honored to have this opportunity to work with Governor-elect McAuliffe to strengthen Virginia’s schools from pre-Kindergarten all the way through college and workforce training, and to make sure our system works for all of our students, including those who are too often left on the margins of our society.
2. She Previously Worked as a Lawyer & as a Judge
Holton earned her bachelor’s degree in economics at Princeton University and her law degree at Harvard Law School. She excelled as a student, graduating magna cum laude from Princeton and cum laude from Harvard. Before becoming Virginia Secretary of Education, Holton held various roles in the legal and judicial systems. She served as a law clerk upon graduation from Harvard, then as a legal aid attorney with the Central Virginia Legal Aid Society from 1985 to 1998, advocating on behalf of low-income families.
She was a Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court judge in Richmond for 17 years, starting in 1998 until 2005 when she resigned to take on duties as the First Lady of Virginia after Kaine was elected governor. From 2000 until 2003 Holton also served as chief judge for the Court.
3. Both Her Husband & Her Father Have Served as Governor of Virginia
Holton is only the second woman to have been both the daughter of a governor and the wife of a governor; the first was Martha Jefferson, Thomas Jefferson’s daughter. She is one of four children born to former Governor of Virginia A. Linwood Holton Jr. and his wife, Jinks. Holton recounted fond memories to The Roanoke Times of her life between 1970 and 1974 when her father served as Governor of Virginia. Holton talked, in the video above, about the differences of life in the governor’s mansion as a child of the governor versus those of the wife of a governor. She also described the strange experience of living in such proximity to the public eye, with the private space of the residence in the middle of a “fish bowl.”
In 2012 she told the Roanoke Free Press that her whole life “has been intertwined with politics since when I was little and my family has looked on it as a positive opportunity to be of service and to have a little fun on the way.” She has attributed her motive in a career serving others to 1970, when after a court ruling on busing paved the way for desegregation of Virginia’s school system, the Holtons decided to send Anne and her siblings to predominantly black schools. According to Holton, this moment represented her father’s favorite motto, “Opportunity Time,” (which was used to wake her and her siblings up in the morning as children) to act, and has been a guide for her dedication to public service.
4. She & Kaine Have Been Married For 27 Years
Holton and Kaine met while they were studying at Harvard Law School and, eager to win the attention of Kaine, she baked cookies for their common study group. According to The Roanoke Times, Holton has said “I knew right away that he was the man for me.” The couple both graduated from Harvard in 1983 and were married in 1984. They have three grown children: Nat, an officer in the Marine corps, Annella, and Woody, both “passionate artists” according to Holton.
In 2012 the couple hosted a talk called “How to Make a Lasting Public Interest Career Part of a Happy Life: A Conversation With Former Virginia Governor and DNC Chair Kaine and First Lady Holton” to share their experiences and advice for balancing between home and public service life.
For the past 30 years the couple have lived in the Northside neighborhood of Richmond.
5. Holton is Committed to Foster Care System Reform & Addressing Gender Gaps
As First Lady of Virginia from 2006 to 2010, Holton dedicated her efforts to promoting reforms in the foster care system. She focused on older children who were either at risk of entering the foster care system or in the system for a lengthy time. In 2007, Holton launched “For Keeps: Families for all Virginia Teens” to address this issue, aiming to find permanent families for older foster children.
Holton also recognized the connection between the risks of homelessness amongst foster children and lack of educational and employment opportunities. When interviewed for a University of Virginia School of Law newsletter Holton framed foster care reform as a matter of smart investment:
These kids that are ending up homeless at age 19, we may well as a society have spent a million dollars on them during their time in care […] So with these million-dollar homeless kids, we’re not exactly getting our money’s worth out of our investment.
Holton established the Great Expectations program in 2008 to address this gap, providing better access to higher eduction for young adults in the foster-care system. She served as program director until becoming Secretary of Education. She has received numerous awards for her fight to reform the foster care system, and was a consultant for the Child Welfare Strategy Group at the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
In 2015 Holton told the Richmond Times-Dispatch:
I am probably most proud of the work I was able to do in reforming Virginia’s foster care system during my husband’s time as governor. My team and I were able to do great work in just a few short years. Every child deserves a real family, and we were able to make this a reality for more children all across Virginia.
Holton is also passionate about addressing gender inequality issues. In 2015, as keynote speaker at an annual benefit encouraging women’s leadership in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), Holton pointed out that while women’s participation in these fields has grown, in 2014 women comprised only 20 percent of engineering classes in Virginia, and as such there’s still plenty of room for improvement.
As part of a 2016 gala panel discussion with women politicians from Virginia, Holton stated that, unlike men who are willing to put themselves forward for public office consideration, women “have to be asked” to run for office, because they are more likely to feel that they do not have the qualifications or are pressured to put other considerations (such as family) first. She pointed out that Virginia can do better to encourage more gender balance in state government, as it ranks 39th of the 50 states with regard to electing women to the legislature, and of the General Assemble members only 19 percent are women. Although Holton has not commented directly on Hillary Clinton’s bid for US President, in 2015 she also stated: “I am a big believer that we need more women in politics at every level, at state legislature, our U.S. Congress and absolutely at the presidential level.”