Chlo’e Edwards

What is your work focused on?
I identify as an advocate, an activist, and a policy analyst, which is a unique combination as those are 3 very different worlds. If I could coin my “niche,” it would be all things rooted in intersectionality. My work focuses on public health, trauma-informed care, equity, and social justice, which gives me a level of familiarity with every system. 

How long have you been doing this work? And what motivated you to do this work?
I started doing this work back in 2013 after graduating from high school and participating in The Minority Research & Law Institute at Southern University and learning about the Angola Three case. While my passion for social justice is rooted in my desire to seek equality for all people, I also specialize in all I have gone through. After experiencing Virginia’s child welfare system through kinship foster care, I became curious about how systems impact and interact with people and began getting my feet wet in child welfare advocacy in 2015. Since then, I’ve advocated on behalf of trauma-informed care, equity, and now justice. I believe your story connects you to your gifts and your gifts will connect you to people who will believe in you. With destiny’s journey, I find myself falling into so many places. I don’t know where this life will take me, but we shall see! 

What is your theme song today?

Describe your dream holiday if money was no limit?
I recently did my Ancestry DNA and learned that most of my roots are from Nigeria and Congo. I would have the most cultural Juneteenth/Girls Trip with a combination of learning about my history and roots + celebrating #BlackGirlMagic and my own culture’s resilience. 

What is the most exciting thing you have worked on or work you are most proud of?
This work carries a lot of pressure, so if you mean exciting by adrenaline-provoking or a learning experience, I’d say as an activist, planning my first march got me WAY outside of my comfort zone. It probably required a few weeks of a combination of nightly planning and a term I coined “binge working,” from volunteer recruitment to fundraising to strategy to press release(s) to marketing to demands to education, and more. A lot of people don’t realize the level of responsibility and cross-disciplinary skills that go into being an activist when you’re just watching stuff on tv.  It’s hard for me to just pick one so as a policy analyst and advocate, advocating for the declaration to declare racism as a public health crisis with Del. Aird, which made VA the first state in the south. I wanted it to be successful SO bad, and I went into HUSTLE mode. I co-planned a press conference in less than 24 hours, recruited over 200+ petitioners and the support of over 50+ organizations, and followed that bill every step of the way. I hadn’t even been promoted to a full-fledged policy analyst and was in-between positions, but I found that leveraging my skills as an advocate and now a policy analyst gave me the ability to work at the grassroots and grasstops level “digitally” as this occurred during the pandemic. 

How has VAPLP impacted your leadership journey?
Virginia Progressive Leadership Program affirmed that it’s okay to be an advocate, activist, and policy analyst. Oftentimes, those worlds do not collide, and we are forced to choose one or the other but thinking with all three of those lenses makes my work even more effective. What’s real and what sucks about systemic racism is you may activate change as an organizer and yet often aren’t invited to the workgroups or tables where policy is implemented. In leveraging all of the hats that I wear, when I am sitting at decision-making tables with people in power, I am still that activist, and when I’m with the community, I am still a policy analyst. Embracing all of me gives me the opportunity to make a broad impact.

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