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Anne Holton

Professor of Public Policy and Education; Senior Fellow, EdPolicyForward


Anne Holton is back as a faculty member after serving as Interim President of George Mason University from 2019-20. Holton is a professor at the Schar School of Policy and Government and at the College of Education and Human Development, and a visiting Fellow at EdPolicyForward. She is a life-long advocate for children and families in Virginia.

With an A.B. from Princeton and a Harvard law degree, Anne Holton has worked as a legal aid lawyer serving low-income families, a juvenile and domestic relations district court judge, a child welfare reformer, and Virginia’s Secretary of Education. Holton helped integrate the inner-city schools of Richmond, Virginia as a child when her father was Virginia's governor in the early 1970's. As Virginia’s First Lady when her husband was Governor in 2006-2010, Holton championed foster care system reform. As Virginia’s Secretary of Education in 2014-2016, Holton worked to increase Virginia’s investment in public education, to promote innovation and the joy of teaching and learning in our schools, and to ensure every student has a successful pathway to the future, especially those in high-poverty communities. Her life’s work has focused on children and families at the margin, and the crucial role education must play in helping young people escape poy. Holton currently serves on the Virginia Board of Education. She and her husband, now a U.S. Senator, live in Richmond, VA. They have three adult children, all of whom attended Richmond Public Schools.

Areas of Research

  • Education Policy
  • Social Welfare Policy
  • Urban Policy