By Valerie Garner
Former city council member, Gwen Mason has been selected as a member of U.S. Senator Tim Kaine’s staff. Mason will serve as Regional Director for the Roanoke area. A Roanoke office location has yet to be selected.
Mason is scheduled to start work for Senator Kaine on May 6th. “The Regional Directors have responsibility for case work and outreach. We are in the process of securing office space here in Roanoke, and until then, I will be working from a blackberry and laptop where I am needed and where there is wifi,” she said.
Mason was elected to Roanoke City Council in 2006 as part of the independent “For the City” with Dave Trinkle and Alfred Dowe, Jr. In 2009 Mason ran unsuccessfully for the 17th House of Delegates seat when Delegate William Fralin retired due to work demands at the Medical Facilities of America where he serves as president and CEO. Bill Cleaveland, a Republican won that seat but served only one term before retiring. Chris Head succeeded Cleaveland for the seat.
Mason joins Senator Kaine’s office from the office of the U. S. Attorney, Western District of Virginia, where she served for nearly three years as the Community Outreach Coordinator. Her career includes work in the non-profit and consulting fields in addition to service in the federal government at the Office of Management and Budget, Department of Interior, and Government Services Administration. Mason is a graduate of Smith College and holds a master’s degree in public administration from UVA.
Kaine in a press release announced multiple staff additions saying, “This diverse group of very talented individuals performs important casework, constituent services and outreach to individuals and groups around the state. The appointment of two new regional directors will allow our Danville office to open immediately and a Roanoke office to open soon. I am pleased to have this team on board to help me serve constituents across the state more effectively.”
A replacement for Mason at the United States Attorney Office will have to wait said Brian McGinn, Public Affairs Specialist for the Western District of Virginia. The Department Of Justice is in the midst of a hard hiring freeze. “When that freeze lifts the Community Outreach Coordinator position that Gwen Mason held will be advertised and filled,” he said.
McGinn emphasized that the position has not been eliminated and Mason made a choice to leave the position but was not forced to leave due to any elimination of funding. He stressed that the change in personnel is not related to the success of the program or its funding but a personal choice by Mason.
“The Coordinator position has not been unfunded or eliminated. In fact, the Executive Office of United States Attorney’s (our regulating body) has actually extended funding for the position through the end of FY13. In addition, all indications point to this position becoming a permanent, full-time post within our district,” said McGinn.
The program was started as a pilot project three years ago and has proven successful, both here and across the country. There are dozens of community outreach coordinators in US Attorney’s Office’s throughout the nation and we fully expect to have a full-time, permanent community outreach coordinator here in the WDVA in the near future explained McGinn.