HOME of VA celebrates the life of Wilder School alumna Dr. Velma J. Ballard
by Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Virginia (HOME) staff contributors
Dr. Velma J. Ballard (’15) was a lifelong learner, resilient student, and empathetic, compassionate human being who, like many Wilder students, cared deeply about improving the world around us. She sought to increase equality and equity in myriad spaces, particularly education, the workplace, and housing. Her doctoral dissertation, “Gender and Representative Bureaucracy: The Career Progression of Women Managers in Male-Dominated Occupations in State Government,” is an insightful and approachable piece of research revealing women’s experiences in mid- to upper-level management.
Velma applied what she learned in her formal education and her lived experiences to her everyday work. She dedicated forty years of service to state government, the bulk at the Department of Housing and Community Development, where she retired as the Deputy Director of Operations. She spearheaded efforts to create and organize the Virginia Governor’s Housing Conference bringing together housing industry professionals, nonprofits, corporations, and policy makers to discuss state and local trends and tackle challenges in the housing sector. In all her work, one can easily see the influence of her deep convictions for equality and affordable housing.
Velma’s interest and passion for fair housing and equality brought her to volunteer her time and talents with Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Virginia (HOME). As a board member and Chairperson of HOME’s Board of Directors, she shared in their mission to ensure equal access to housing for all people and encouraged others to join the fair housing movement. Understanding the continuing impact of segregation and past discriminatory housing practices, Velma recognized the need for intentional public policy reforms that address past wrongs and strive for equality in housing access today.
Sadly, Velma passed away in September 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of us who knew and loved her weren’t able to gather and celebrate her life and legacy. As we approach the third anniversary of her passing, HOME hosts a celebration of life to remember Dr. Velma J. Ballard.
For any Wilder School staff, alumni, and supporters who knew Velma and would like to join us in remembering her and sharing stories, please RSVP to attend this event.
Dr. Velma J. Ballard Celebration of Life
Wednesday, October 18, 5:00 - 7:00 p.m.
The Speakeasy Grill
26 N 2nd St, Richmond, VA 23219
When she passed, HOME received a generous gift from Velma. HOME is committed to carrying forward her legacy by creating the Dr. Velma J. Ballard Fair Housing Fund in her memory. This fund provides the resources needed to research, investigate, and enforce through litigation cases of housing discrimination. Additionally, given Velma’s enthusiasm for education and mentorship, HOME will use part of the fund to host an exceptional Wilder School graduate student for a year to advance fair housing in Virginia. If you would like to amplify Velma’s legacy, please consider a donation to the Fund to advance HOME’s fair housing efforts.
About HOME of VA
Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Virginia (HOME) is a civil rights fair housing non-profit whose mission is to ensure equal housing for all people. Founded in 1971, we exist to address housing-related system inequities perpetuated by segregation and systemic discriminatory practices. When unequal access to housing and unfair credit contributes to the growing racial homeownership and wealth gap, our multi-faceted approach is a powerful catalyst toward furthering fair housing. We enforce fair housing laws, empower individuals with the skills and knowledge they need to successfully obtain or maintain their housing, and educate people to change systems. For 50 years, we have used our voice to educate, develop laws and policies through legislatures and local governments, and protect against unfair housing practices through the legal system.