RICHMOND (August 5, 2021)—The Virginia Association of Counties (VACo) is pleased to announce the 30 recipients of the 2021 Achievement Awards, which recognize excellence in local government programs. VACo received 102 submissions.
Winning entries focused on addressing issues of inclusion, belonging, and reconciliation that challenge counties today.
“I want to thank all who participated in the 19th year of the Achievement Awards,” VACo Executive Director Dean Lynch said. “Our counties face challenges every day, and those challenges are written in these program submissions. What’s also written are the innovative solutions that overcome these obstacles to make life better for communities across the Commonwealth. We celebrate these victories with all who participated.”
Tedd Povar, retired Associate Director of the Virginia Institute of Government; Dr. Sheryl Bailey, Visiting Professor of Practice at Virginia Tech and former Chesterfield County Deputy County Administrator; and Larry Land, retired VACo Director of Policy Development, served as judges for this year’s statewide competitive awards program.
Henrico County and its Equity Ambassadors program won this year’s Best Achievement Award.
“Equity Ambassadors is a wonderful program that has gained in popularity among Henrico County students over the past couple of years,” Dr. Bailey said. “The students recognized a need for their voices to be amplified on issues of equality, and they took action to make it happen. Equity Ambassadors also provides students with opportunities to learn positive leadership. I speak for the judges when I say we are honored to give this program the Best Achievement Award.”
The judges also selected a Best Small County Achievement Award (50,000 or less population) and a Best Large County Achievement Award. Nelson County and its Blue Ridge Tunnel Rehabilitation and Trail Project program captured the Best Small County Achievement Award while Chesterfield County and its Innovation Bootcamp program earned the Best Large County Achievement Award.
“Congratulations to Nelson County for winning its first-ever Achievement Award, and for such an excellent program,” Land said. “The county turned an abandoned railroad tunnel built in the 1850s into a regional recreation asset. I’m sure traveling through the long, dark tunnel is quite a thrilling treat, and I look forward to experience it one day.”
Povar, who has served as judge since the Achievement Awards inception in 2003, said Chesterfield County’s winning program reflects an important criteria for the VACo Achievement Awards. “As judges, we look for how a county uses innovation or ideas to solve a problem,” Povar said. “Chesterfield County’s program is about teaching the process of innovation from start to finish. In fact, this program was created because one of Chesterfield County’s core values is innovation. Congratulations to Chesterfield County for a tremendous program and for continuing to be a leader in the VACo Achievement Awards program.”
Chesterfield County tops the all-time Achievement Awards list with 39. Chesterfield County has won an award in each year of the 19-year history of the program. Henrico County is second on the list with 34 Achievement Awards while Loudoun County is third with 25.
The VACo Achievement Awards is a competitive program open to local government members of the association.