Michael Town Executive Director

Michael Town joined Virginia LCV as its Executive Director in June, 2014. Having grown up in Southern Maryland, New York State and Pennsylvania, he moved to Virginia to attend James Madison University, where he fell in love with the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Commonwealth.

He has lived in Richmond since 1995, and is the father of four children and step-father of two. His 26 years of experience working in the conservation community includes running both state and national conservation organizations. Since his time at Virginia LCV he has helped build the organization into one of the most politically influential nonprofits in Virginia.

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Lee Francis Deputy Director

Lee Francis started work at Virginia LCV as its communications manager in early March 2015 and was promoted to his current post in the fall of 2018. Previously, he worked as editor of the (Hanover) Herald-Progress, a weekly newspaper based in Ashland. His tenure there followed a three-year stint in the Northern Neck of Virginia, where he served as managing editor of three weekly newspapers: the Westmoreland News, Northumberland Echo and Northern Neck News.
Lee graduated in 2006 from James Madison University with a bachelor’s of arts in English. In the spring of 2014, he completed a graduate degree in multimedia journalism through Virginia Commonwealth University’s Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture.
Lee grew up in rural Nelson County, nestled in Virginia’s majestic Blue Ridge mountains, where conservation and environmental stewardship have always been near and dear causes.

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Kelly Tsow Senior Development Director

Kelly Tsow joined the Virginia LCV staff in the summer of 2013, bringing with her over 16 years of experience in non-profit development and management. She has an extensive background in building collaborative and supportive partnerships that strengthen and expand the resources necessary to fund organizational goals. Before coming to the Virginia League, she spent six years as Virginia Opera’s Central Virginia Development Operations Manager. Prior to her time at the Opera, Kelly served for several years as the board president of an affordable housing non-profit in her historic neighborhood of Oregon Hill.  A native of northwestern Pennsylvania, she has called Richmond home since 1988, when she came to Virginia Commonwealth University to earn a B.F.A.

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Avohom Carpenter Director of Civic Engagement

Avohom Carpenter joined the Virginia LCV staff in April, 2018. He brings 10 years of experience working in both the political field for progressive candidates and non-partisan advocacy work around voting rights, civil rights, restoration of rights and environmental justice. His last position was as Regional Field Director and Interim State Field Director with New Virginia Majority where he helped to lead the largest and most effective Voter Registration operation in Virginia history.
A native of Connecticut, Avohom grew up in the South Norfolk Area of Hampton Roads. Avohom graduated in 2010 from Hampton University with a Bachelor’s of Arts in Political Science. When not at work Avohom can be found at a sporting event, watching a movie or doing community service/advocacy work with several organizations he volunteers with.

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Shantane Tho Chief Financial Administrative Officer

Shantane Tho joined the Virginia LCV staff in September, 2021 and is the Chief Financial Administrative Officer (CFAO). She provides strategic leadership for the organization’s finance and administrative functions, as well as for the management of its financial resources and capital. Shantane has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and over 14 years of experience spanning finance, project management, and business administration within the for-profit and non-profit sectors.

As a Virginia native, Shantane has worked with local non-profit organizations on environmental sustainability, conservation, affordable housing, and providing resources to vulnerable communities. She is passionate about working with organizations focused on the societal impact of their work and are committed to racial justice and equity. She currently serves on the board of Reach Out Center 2.0.

In her free time, she enjoys reading, swimming, and interior design. She currently resides with her husband and three children in Chesterfield, VA.

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Sarah Ahmed Statewide Field Director

Sarah Ahmed joined VALCV in February of 2020. Previously an organizer with the Climate Action Program of LCV, Sarah played an important role in mobilizing and educating voters who saw environmental issues as a top priority. Her professional career actually began in the world of Human Resources, working at the Counseling Alliance of Virginia in Richmond as HR Coordinator before switching to the world of organizing. Sarah got involved in political organizing in 2017, working at the Progressive Turnout Project to ensure high voter turnout for the 2017 Gubernatorial VA Elections. Prior to becoming Field Manager at VALCV, Sarah was Deputy Director of Voter Registration for the organization. Sarah's passion for civic engagement and the environment is equivalent to her love for breakfast, stand-up comedy, and a strong internet connection.

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Chris Leyen Policy Director

Chris Leyen joined Virginia LCV as senior policy manager in December 2020. Previously, he served as Chief of Staff to Senator Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) starting in June 2016.

Chris graduated in 2015 from the Cornell University College of Arts and Sciences with a bachelor’s of arts in Biological Sciences, a concentration in genetics, and a minor in law, science and public policy. From 2013 though 2015 he worked as a research technician in the Harrington, Hoffman and Mazourek labs engaging in veterinary and agricultural entomology research as well as plant breeding.

Chris grew up in Discovery Bay, California on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta where early exposure to water quality, climate change, agricultural and recreational access concerns engendered an early appreciation for conservation and environmental stewardship.

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Michaela Mizrahi Digital Marketing and Communications Manager

Michaela Mizrahi joined the Virginia LCV staff in November 2020 as the Digital Marketing and Communications Manager. Prior to joining VALCV, Michaela served as Confidential Assistant to the Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security under Governor Ralph Northam upon graduating from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) with dual degrees in Political Science, concentrated in International Relations and Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. During her time at VCU, she spent years gaining experience in Virginia’s legislature while serving as an intern and Legislative Fellow in the Virginia General Assembly and later became the Social Media Intern for the Virginia Council on Women within the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s Office. Throughout her life, she’s enjoyed spending her free time volunteering with local organizations and fostering relationships to build community.

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Catherine Setaro Hampton Roads Organizer

Catherine Setaro joined the Virginia LCV staff in August 2021 as the Hampton Roads Organizer. In May of 2020, she graduated from Virginia Tech with a BS in Environmental Policy and Planning and a minor in American Indian Studies. During her time at Virginia Tech, she traveled throughout the state working for Undergraduate Admissions in Diversity Recruitment. She also spent some of her free time volunteering with nonprofits to encourage civic engagement across campus. After graduating, she gained more experience in nonprofit work as a Communications Officer for Native Americans in Higher Education and Mentorship. She has spent the majority of her life in the Richmond area and enjoys spending time outdoors with friends and family, kayaking and cooking.

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Nathaniel Leies Western VA Organizer

Nathaniel joined Virginia LCV in October, 2021. A native of Northeastern Pennsylvania, he grew up climbing glacial rocks and raising Christmas trees with his family. After completing dual degrees in Creative Writing and Marketing at Susquehanna University in 2018, he uprooted and journeyed across the eastern United States, first as a copywriting intern, then as seasonal ranger with the National Park Service. Throughout his career, Nathaniel has cared deeply about protecting natural and historic places, which guides his work with Virginia LCV, advocating against fossil fuel and gas infrastructure that is tearing through Appalachia and the Commonwealth on the whole. Nathaniel now enjoys living in Central Virginia and delving into the rich history of all its peoples. When visiting family, Nathaniel enjoys hiking along the Delaware River and ensuring water protection for Delaware River headwaters through stream monitoring.

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Jenny Morand Richmond Organizer

Jenny Morand joined the Virginia LCV staff in 2022 as the Richmond Organizer. Jenny is a lifelong Virginian and dedicated community activist who resides in North Chesterfield with her family. Growing up in Henrico, Jenny studied performing arts. She attended an "acting for camera" course in New York and worked on independent film projects there and in Canada. But Jenny felt most at home living and working in downtown Richmond, immersed in the arts district, and in 2010, her family opened a cafe in historic Jackson Ward. When Jenny became a mother, she heard the calling to support other new parents as a birth and postpartum doula. During that time, she joined the fight to protect breastfeeding and reproductive rights in Virginia. For ten years, Jenny developed content for a national reading assessment program and began advocating for improvements in public education. In 2020, Jenny was proud to work for the Virginia LCV's Voter Education Fund, leading an outreach team in Petersburg during the pandemic. Through climate advocacy and environmental justice work, Jenny exercises her passion for civic engagement and voting rights and works to build a safer commonwealth for her children. Jenny enjoys volunteering for progressive candidates, relaxing in her husband’s garden, and watching her kids develop and grow.

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Molly Negus Finance and Administrative Assistant

Molly joined the Virginia LCV staff in April 2019. She was previously with the non-profit, Rx Partnership, where she helped to ensure that free clinics across the Commonwealth received access to prescription drug medication for our most vulnerable population.
She graduated from George Mason University with a Bachelor of Science in Finance, and from The College of William and Mary with a Masters in Business Administration.
After working for several years in the corporate world, Molly took time off to raise her two children. During that time she volunteered for many non-profit organizations in the Richmond area.
In her free time she enjoys weekends in the Outer Banks and walking her dog, Moe around the city.

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