Donna is a long-time activist and religious leader who first became involved with Virginia Organizing through Ben Thacker-Gwaltney, her local Hampton Roads organizer. Donna cites a strong interest in the issues, her community and a connection with Ben as her motivation for staying involved. “Sometimes I just show up for Ben,” laughs Donna.
When Donna is not volunteering with Virginia Organizing, she works as the Social Justice Coordinator for the Thomas Jefferson District of the Unitarian Universalist Association and home schools her daughter Mollie.
Over the last two years Donna has been particularly motivated by health care reform and has attended lobby days, written letters to the editor and has shared her personal story with the media. Donna has experienced the difficulties of navigating the health care industry where the insurance companies make all the rules. “My wife’s employer wanted to insure me as her spouse. However, Anthem would not because of the rule that insurers only have to offer insurance to domestic partners if the employer has 100 or more employees,” said Donna. “The quality of our health care should not be predicated on our ability to pay or to navigate the system or on marital status.”
GLBT rights are also an issue of importance to Donna. She legally married her wife Margaret in California but Virginia does not recognize the marriage. Donna has spoken out against GLBT discrimination locally at William and Mary rallies and local meetings.
In addition to health care and GLBT issues, Donna has done work around workers’ rights issues, living wage work, anti-racism education and tax reform work. Donna feels that most social and economic justice issues are intertwined. “At the end of the day, I believe my faith calls me to work toward disrupting systems of oppression and building a more just world. Virginia Organizing gives me the opportunity to live out that call.”