Virginia Walden Ford

Virginia Walden Ford is executive director of D.C. Parents for School Choice. She is executive producer of Miss Virginia and one of America’s leading advocates for parent empowerment. A native of Little Rock, Arkansas, she was among the first 130 students chosen to desegregate Little Rock’s high schools in the mid-1960s. While raising her three children in Washington, D.C., Ms. Walden Ford was shocked that so many children were forced to attend failing, crumbling schools simply because they lived in the “wrong” zip codes. In 1998, she took action, forming D.C. Parents for School Choice. Along with a group of dedicated parents, she went door-to-door recruiting and training thousands of other parents to stand up for their children’s futures. In 2003, Ms. Walden Ford and her group of parent advocates succeeded in convincing Congress and President George W. Bush to enact the nation’s first-ever Opportunity Scholarship Program for low-income children, a program that set into motion a complete overhaul of Washington, D.C.’s education system. This program provides scholarships for low-income children to attend private schools, while boosting federal funding for traditional public schools and public charter schools. After winning several awards for her advocacy efforts, Ms. Walden Ford shared her advice and experiences in her book, Voices, Choices, and Second Chances.