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Partners Launches the Virginia College Affordability Policy Council

Student Debt Showing Rising Costs & Accumulated Debt

On Thursday, September 19, 2019 Partners for College Affordability and Public Trust announced the formation of a new policy council to identify solutions to problems of affordability and workforce readiness in Virginia higher education. The council's membership includes CEOs from various industries, senior executives in finance, technology and energy sectors, nonprofit executives representing small businesses, bankers and other public interests, former college presidents, trustees, senior administrators, and current college students.

"This council brings together the best thinkers and leaders from across the Commonwealth to address one of the most persistent domestic policy issues facing Virginia and the nation," said Partners president Dr. James Toscano. "Partners is proud to host this important conversation with our all-star council members, and we look forward to learning their unique perspectives and ideas on building a better future for students, families and the public."

The council, chaired by Dr. James V. Koch and Mr. Brett Vassey, will convene in Richmond for its first meeting on October 3rd.

Virginia College Affordability Policy Council

  • Dr. James V. Koch (Co-Chair) - President Emeritus, Old Dominion University (1990-2001) and the University of Montana (1986-1990)
  • Brett A. Vassey (Co-Chair) - President & CEO, Virginia Manufacturers Association
  • Jeffrey Ainslie - President of Sales, Operations and Finance, Ainslie Group; former President, Home Builders Association of Virginia; former Member, Old Dominion University Board of Visitors (1998-2002)
  • Gilbert Bland - President, Urban League of Hampton Roads; Chair, Virginia African American Advisory Board; former Chair, State Council of Higher Education for Virginia
  • William G. "Bill" Crutchfield, Jr. - Founder & CEO, Crutchfield Corporation
  • James Dau - State Director, AARP-Virginia
  • Dr. Deborah M. DiCroce - President & CEO, Hampton Roads Community Foundation; former President, Tidewater Community College (1998-2012) and Piedmont Community College (1989-1998)
  • Helen E. Dragas - President & CEO, The Dragas Companies
  • Thomas S. "Tom" Gayner - Co-CEO, Markel Corp
  • Tanner Hirschfeld - Student, University of Virginia
  • Alan Krishnan - Vice President, SkillNet
  • Elisa Maurice - Student, Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Nicole Riley - Virginia State Director, National Federation of Independent Business
  • The Honorable Dr. Amelia Ross-Hammond - Founder & Chairman, African American Cultural Center; former Department Chair, Norfolk State University; former Virginia Beach City Council Member
  • Craig Toalson - CEO, Home Builders Association of Virginia
  • R. Chris Walters - Managing Director, Branch Manager, Cary Street Partners
  • Bruce T. Whitehurst - President & CEO, Virginia Bankers Association
  • Thomas P. Wohlfarth - Senior Executive, Dominion Energy

Partners for College Affordability and Public Trust is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to improving higher education affordability, transparency, and quality. We give voice to the students and families who pay for the rising cost of college—but rarely have a seat at the policy-making table. We advocate for common sense policies and practices that will ensure that students graduate with less debt and are better equipped to make good on higher education's promise of economic mobility. Learn more at


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