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Institute to Honor Emerging Black Leaders

On Tuesday, May 7, the Virginia Leadership Institute (VLI) will hold its “Top 10 Under 40” awards, to honor 10 of the region’s rising young African-American leaders in business, community involvement and politics. According to Krysta Jones, the founder and president of VLI, the event will help raise the profile of achievements made by black young professionals in Northern Virginia.

“I just think it’s amazing that we have this opportunity to really bring this out,” Jones said in an interview prior to the awards. “It’s amazing to think about the achievements we are making, and I think it says a lot about what we’re able to do in the future if we just keep at it.”

Founded in 2006, VLI’s primary mission is to increase the number of blacks serving in elected offices across Virginia to 500 by 2026. According to Jones, events like the “Top 10 Under 40” awards help showcase the diversity of leadership within Northern Virginia and increase name recognition for individuals who have what it takes to run for office some day. “We want to bring attention to leaders and the organizations that they are a part of,” Jones said.

Award winners were selected based on their professional achievements and community involvement by a selection committee. All of the selected honorees have been residents of Northern Virginia for at least five years. Alexandria honorees include:

  • Councilman John Taylor Chapman, an after-school specialist and Alexandria native who was elected to the Alexandria City Council in November 2012. Chapman has served as the vice Chair of the Alexandria Youth Policy Commission, president of the NAACP-Alexandria chapter, board member for Volunteer Alexandria and board member for the Concerned Citizens Network of Alexandria.

  • Ryane LeCesne, the director of the Scholars Academy for Emerging Scholars Program (ESP), an Alexandria-based 14-month academic and leadership preparatory program for low- and moderate-income students.

The VLI “Top 10 Under 40” awards will be held on Tuesday, May 7 at 6:30 p.m. at Kora Restaurant at 2250 Crystal Drive, Arlington, and tickets can be purchased for $15 by visiting www.virginialead.org or calling 703-969-9647.