The Democratic Convention kicked off today. The delegates are gathered, the presumptive nominee is chosen, and she’s chosen her running mate. Tim Kaine got his rightful share of scrutiny after Clinton announced that he’d be joining her on the ticket this year, and now people are turning to his wife to have a look at what she’s all about.
That’s part of politics. Rightly or wrongly, political spouses get the microscope treatment once they’re thrust into the public eye. Anne Holton, who married Tim Kaine more than 30 years ago, is certainly no stranger to the treatment, and as we take a look at what her time in the state of Virginia has been like, we have to say we like what we see. Here are the eight things you ought to know about her.
1. Anne Holton is Virginia’s secretary of education
This isn’t her first time in the political arena, obviously, but it’s not even her second or third. Besides lending her support in her husband’s political endeavors — which resulted in holding the office of both second and first lady of the state of Virginia between 2002 and 2010 — she went on to hold the title of secretary of education in 2016 when Governor-elect McAuliffe nominated and appointed her to the role.
2. She’s seen the Virginia governor’s mansion from every angle
Holton is one of two first ladies to have been in the governor’s mansion as both a child and an adult. She first lived there when her father, A. Linwood Holton, Jr., was governor from 1970 to 1974. The only other Virginian first lady to have done this was Thomas Jefferson’s daughter, Martha Randolph.
3. She’s got a distinguished and storied career behind her
After graduating cum laude from Harvard Law School, Holton went on to work first as a clerk and then as an attorney for the Central Virginia Legal Aid Society, which provides noncriminal litigation assistance to low-income and elderly clients. From there she went on to be appointed as a judge in Richmond’s family court.
4. She met her husband at Harvard
A law degree with honors isn’t the only thing Holton came away with from Harvard. It’s also where she met Tim Kaine. They both received their degrees in 1983 and would go on to marry one year later, which means they’re in year 32 of marital bliss.
5. She’s an outspoken advocate for underserved youth…
Besides serving low-income clients as a legal aid attorney, Holton advocated particularly for foster children during her time as first lady and began the For Keeps: Families for All Virginia Teens initiative, which was aimed at finding foster families for older children, who have traditionally been overlooked or underserved in foster care systems nationwide.
As secretary of education, she has focused largely on reforming a school system that has a marked “achievement gap” between low- and high-income schools, which has included opposing the expansion of charter schools in the state and increasing teacher pay as well in an effort to further integrate Richmond and Virginia public schools.
6. … which likely results from witnessing racial injustices firsthand at an early age
When Holton’s father was governor, he was a huge proponent of desegregation, which, in the ’70s in Virginia, was not a particularly popular stance to have. Still, as a public show of his support for desegregation laws, he had his children, including Anne, bused to area schools with black populations.
7. She would like to see some major reforms to education, including standardized tests
Part of her advocacy as secretary of education has included being outspoken about the damage standardized tests have the potential to do, and she has said that their existence not only shortchanges students on education by “teaching to the test” but discourages teachers from seeking positions in the low-income schools that are harmed the most by the achievement gap. She has also been an outspoken advocate of eliminating gender gaps by encouraging girls to nurture STEM interests and talents in school:
When Governor-elect McAuliffe appointed her to her cabinet position, she said that she hoped “to make sure our system works for all of our students, including those who are too often left on the margins of our society.” When she says all, she means it: All of her children attended public schools.
8. On top of everything, she’s a mother
Speaking of which, for those of us who can barely walk and chew gum at the same time, there’s an additional impressive facet to Holton’s life, which includes her three children: Nat, a United States Marine; Woody, a history professor; and Annella, a student at NYU.
We’re looking forward to learning more about this seriously dedicated public servant and advocate as the election cycle grinds on, because so far we can only say we’d be thrilled to have her as America’s second lady.