Dukes Ask Dukes: An Interview with Secretary of the Commonwealth Lavar Stoney

Story by Morgan Lynch

Photo by Madelaine Williams

Why did you choose to go to JMU?

I think I got into James Madison by happenstance almost. I did not have the application to apply to JMU … I completed it on the day of the deadline and submitted it with my personal statement and everything. A couple months later I got the big package in the mail and I got in. I almost think it was like destiny that I got into James Madison.

The reason I came to JMU is because I heard there’s always a particular mix of individuals that came to JMU and it wasn’t always all about having the best grades in the world or about being a super athlete. It was a great mix of people that created a great community and that’s what attracted me to JMU. I thought I would excel in an environment like that and I did.

What did you major in?

I majored in public administration and political science, so I was a double major in those two fields.

How did you go from JMU to being Governor McAuliffe’s Secretary of the Commonwealth?

I would say hard work and starting from the bottom and working myself up. I first was an intern on a campaign, knocking on doors in Maryland for a political campaign. After that I joined a campaign here in Virginia, while I was still in college over the summer. That job was also knocking on doors being a field director. Then I worked myself up from an organizer to the Executive Director of the Democratic Party in Virginia when I was 26 years old, back in 2007 or 2008. From there, I met the governor along the way and I advised the governor from 2010 to 2013. I was his campaign manager, and after we won in 2013, the governor asked if I would serve as the Secretary of the Commonwealth. When the governor asks, you say yes, and I said yes.

How did what you learned at JMU help you in your career?

I’ve always has an idea of where I wanted to be in my life and I just needed a launch pad to get there and James Madison provided me that launch pad. It is one thing to learn in the classroom about political science and public administration. So, I learned the skills in the classroom but I thought JMU provided me the opportunity to learn outside the classroom, to actually exhibit leadership and also to learn from others. Every single day there is something that I do that I can apply to what I learned back at James Madison either when I was in the classroom of when I was outside the classroom in a leadership position. I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for JMU.

How did it feel to speak at December graduation last year?

That was a lifelong dream. I’ll admit that I never would have ever thought that I would be the graduation speaker for my alma mater. To be asked to come give the commencement speech to a huge crowd in the Convocation Center made me somewhat nervous but also made me very, very proud to be a JMU Duke. It will always be a day I will remember. The day I entered JMU, the day I graduated from JMU and the day I gave the commencement at JMU. All three of those moments I will always remember.

 

More from madison101admin

For Sports Fans, Options to Cheer Here, Near and There

hether you’re into baseball, basketball, racquetball, tennis or even extreme sports, JMU...
Read More

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *