Virginia Organizing is a non-partisan statewide grassroots organization dedicated to challenging injustice by empowering people in local communities to address issues that affect the quality of their lives. Virginia Organizing especially encourages the participation of those who have traditionally had little or no voice in our society. By building relationships with individuals and groups throughout the state, Virginia Organizing strives to get them to work together, democratically and non-violently, for change.
Our guest speakers’ presentation will address the economic impacts of the public transportation system in Newport News and the role it plays in many people’s lives. Virginia Organizing has formed a list of transit recommendations it wants the city to adopt in order to create a more just, equitable and viable bus system for the entire city of Newport News.
Janice "Jay" Johnson served as Chairperson of Virginia Organizing for five years until taking on the role of Treasurer. She feels a great sense of pride in the growth of Virginia Organizing during these years.
Ciera Killen joined Virginia Organizing in June 2018 as the Hampton and Newport News Organizer. Ciera has lived in Virginia her entire life. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a bachelor’s degree in Public Policy.
She is proud of Virginia Organizing’s work on health care, restoration of voting rights for former non-violent felons, and election protection. Jay committed to Virginia Organizing after attending a board meeting where she was impressed by the passion and seriousness with which members went about their work. During Governor Mark Warner’s term, Jay devoted much time to reforming Virginia’s tax system. Similarly, she and many others statewide pushed successfully for policy change in housing and redevelopment. In subsequent years, she worked with Virginia Organizing’s strategic assessment and organization by state legislative districts.
Jay was born in Hampton, Virginia, but has lived in Newport News for the past 13 years. After receiving an undergraduate degree from Wilson College in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, she returned to Hampton Institute for a Master’s Degree in guidance counseling. Tirelessly, Jay pursued careers in Professional Girl Scouting, social work, entrepreneurship, and finally spent 15 years with the City of Hampton’s youth department. When Jay is not organizing, she enjoys involvement in a book group and is an avid traveler.
During college she interned on a gubernatorial campaign and as a peer health educator. In health education she learned the value of making change through community dialogue and community engagement.
Her college classes led Ciera to want to be a community organizer. She felt that many people who speak about poverty and public policy never stop to ask those experiencing the issues their perspective or opinions.
“I really want to help those who have been left out of these conversations to finally claim their seat at the table.”