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The Politician Who Got a Standing-O From Prisoners

Chair-at-Large, Loudoun County, Va.

1807_WIG Phyllis Randall 02Ba
Before she was the first black woman elected chair of the Loudoun County, Va., Board of Supervisors in 2015, Phyllis Randall worked as a therapist at the Prince William County Adult Detention Center. Now, her background in mental health and substance abuse inspires her to push for better county services to fight addiction, including group therapy, medication therapy and a reinstated drug court. “There was almost no discussion around the importance of strong behavioral health and mental health,” she says. “Part of my goal has been to put new language into the county’s lexicon.”

Randall also wants to change the discussion when it comes to the opioid crisis. She stresses that opioids may be the issue of the moment, but addiction itself is the underlying concern. 

Randall’s work at the intersection of health and criminal justice includes a stint as chair of the Virginia Board of Corrections from 2014 to 2018. It certainly made an impression on the inmates she worked with in Prince William County. “A couple days after my election,” she says, “I walked back into the jail. They all stood up and started clapping.”

Read about the Women in Government program and the rest of the honorees.

Caroline Cournoyer is GOVERNING's senior web editor.
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