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Patch Q&A: Lavern Chatman, Candidate, 8th Congressional District Democratic Primary

By Sydney Wu

1. Patch: What one thing would you hope to accomplish, more than anything, if elected?

Lavern Chatman: Ensuring women receive equal pay for equal work. This is an issue that I feel benefit both men and women and they both would support in. In a dual-income household, if one spouse is getting paid less that’s less money for the entire family. Women are getting 77 cents to the dollar compared to men. Minority women are being paid less than that at 59 to 56 cents. I think this is an issue that we can finally build bipartisan support around and make a reality in the near future.


2. Patch: What makes your platform unique from the other candidates?

Lavern Chatman: This is the first-time I’ve ever run for elected office. What makes me different is that I’ve been in the trenches solving real problems for real people in our community.

As the only woman running on the ballot, I can speak from experience about issues that matter most to women. My history of community leadership includes the Northern Virginia Urban League, Nova Coalition, and the Northern Virginia Community Foundation working with youth and families on eliminating the achievement gap, the teen mothers programs, job training for seniors, and mentoring programs for youth and young professionals.

I have worked directly with youth and families who are struggling for economic stability. I will continue to be a strong voice and advocate for them in Congress.


3. Patch: What is the biggest struggle you’ve ever overcome?

Lavern Chatman: I was married at 37 years old and became a widow by 40. I lost my husband to cancer in 1998 and it was the most difficult time in my life. On our first year wedding anniversary we found out that he had terminal lung cancer.

He lived for 30 months after the diagnosis. I was devastated and needed a way to “get back to life.” I was impressed with a new organization that General Colin Powell had started, America’s Promise, to provide youth with five promises: Caring adults, Safe Places, a Healthy Start, Effective Education and Opportunities to Serve. I became a full-time volunteer with the organization helping them to get funding from businesses and major corporations. Being able to serve others, raise funds for a great cause, and change children’s lives, gave me new hope and helped to get me back to life.


4. Patch: What has been your biggest achievement?

Lavern Chatman: I started working with the Northern Virginia Urban League in 1999 as a volunteer, then a board member and in 2003 became the President and CEO. Our office building had been a former slave pen in Alexandria, and over 10,000 slaves were sold and traded there from 1828 to 1861. The basement was a concrete block that the past leadership had tried several times to develop into a museum. I was determined to find the funding, the right designer, and build community support to develop a first-class museum.

I reached out to Congressman Jim Moran and we secured federal funding to design and build the Freedom House Museum. It was a two year effort and a permanent legacy that tells the history of domestic slave trading in Virginia, but also describes the triumph and hope for the future. This is a lasting legacy that I am very proud of.


5. Patch: Who is your hero (political or otherwise)?

Lavern Chatman: Nelson Mandela. I was blessed to attend Mr. Mandela’s memorial services in December 2013, and it was a transformative experience. I was moved beyond belief and had a real understanding of the sacrifice he made after being imprisoned for 27 years and coming out without hatred, but forgiveness. He worked with others and treated them with dignity, love and respect to dismantle apartheid. I know that one person can make a difference and Nelson Mandela is an example of that which each of us can follow. He is my inspiration for wanting to go to Congress and make a difference.


6. Patch: What, to you, is one of the most distinctive qualities about the community of the 8th congressional district?

Lavern Chatman: The 8th District is incredibly diverse and residents are not only knowledgeable on the issues, but also engaged. They care about what’s happening in our schools, our communities and hold our elected officials on the local and federal level accountable for their actions.


7. Patch: How would you describe yourself in just three words?

Lavern Chatman: Resourceful. Effective. Collaborator.


8. Patch: What is your definition of success?

Lavern Chatman: Providing leadership that empowers others. I have a group of young women that I have been mentoring for more than 10 years, some of them are now business owners, some have received advanced degrees, and they are the leaders of tomorrow.


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Statement from Lavern Chatman on Passing of Maya Angelou

Alexandria, Va. – Lavern Chatman, Democratic candidate for Virginia’s 8th Congressional District, issued the following statement today on the passing of renowned author and civil rights activist Dr. Maya Angelou:

“Maya Angelou was a mother to all nations and a gift to the world. Through her writings and activism, she empowered millions – young and old – serving as a voice for social change. My thoughts and prayers are with Dr. Angelou’s family and friends.”


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Lavern Chatman Wins African-American Leadership Council of Arlington Straw Poll

Arlington, Va. – Lavern Chatman won tonight’s African-American Leadership Council of Arlington’s straw poll, defeating all Democratic and Republican contenders vying to replace Congressman Jim Moran in Virginia’s 8th Congressional District. Chatman is the only woman on the ballot running in the June 10 democratic primary.

“With three weeks to go, our campaign continues to build momentum,” said Chatman. “As the only woman running on the ballot, tonight’s win shows that voters of the 8th District believe it’s time for a fresh perspective in Washington. In Congress, I will continue to be a voice for women and working families.”

The African-American Leadership Council of Arlington (AALCA) hosted tonight’s candidate forum and straw poll held at Mount Zion Baptist Church, one of the first black churches in Arlington County. Chatman received 21% of the total votes cast for the seven Democrats and one Republican in the race.




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I’m the only woman in this race and I need your help to make it across the finish line.

Virginia has not elected a woman to Congress since 2006 and has NEVER elected a woman from the 8th District. We have a unique opportunity to change that on June 10th.

The challenges we face today demand more diverse leadership and a new perspective in Washington.

It’s time for a woman to defend our right to make our own health care decisions and fight for equal pay for equal work.

It’s time for a leader who has worked to put our shared progressive values into action fighting for social justice, small business and eliminating the education achievement gap.

It’s time for a community leader who has worked with Democrats, Republicans and Independents to make our community stronger.

We don’t need more of the same.

There are 28 days left in this election. Contribute $28 today to ensure we continue on a path to victory.


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The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Local 476 at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced their support for Lavern Chatman’s candidacy for U.S. House of Representatives in Virginia’s 8th Congressional District at their annual Spring luncheon in honor of support staff at HUD.

AFGE Local 476 represents approximately 1800 employees at HUD’s headquarters and Washington field office.

Ashaki Robinson Johns, President of Local 476, and Eddie Eitches, President of the Council which represents the 40 AFGE Locals at HUD, praised Chatman’s commitment to federal workers and helping working families, including her work as President and CEO of the Northern Virginia Urban League assisting those in the 8th District who were facing foreclosure.

At the event, Chatman spoke of her mother’s 30-year career as a postal employee and her activity in the union to make the workplace better for women and minorities.

Chatman is committed to working to protect federal workers and their benefits from future budget negotiations in Congress. She thanked the union for their endorsement and commitment to service.

“I am honored to receive the support of such dedicated public servants,” Chatman said. “In spite of a government shutdown, in spite of sequestration, in spite of a 3-year pay freeze, they continue to work hard each day and keep our country moving forward.”

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ALEXANDRIA, VA – Lavern Chatman’s campaign for U.S. House continues to build momentum ahead of the June 10 democratic primary election, showing total contributions of $298,697.29, for the most recent period ending March 31.

On Saturday, Chatman returned to Mount Vernon High School, her alma mater, to participate in the 8th Congressional District’s first candidate forum of the democratic primary. Throughout the event, Chatman highlighted her work as a community leader, mentor of young men and women, and champion for small business and women’s rights. A first-time candidate, Chatman finished a strong second in the Mount Vernon District Democratic Committee’s recent straw poll.

The Chatman campaign celebrated the opening of their campaign office – located at Congressman Moran’s former campaign headquarters in Old Town Alexandria – with a canvass kickoff on Sunday.

“In just a few months, our campaign continues to grow in momentum and strength,” said Chatman. “I look forward to meeting and connecting with more voters across the 8th District in the coming weeks.”

Earlier this month, Chatman held a fundraising event at the Crystal Gateway Marriot in Arlington, VA with special guest Ms. Oprah Winfrey.

“Stedman and I came here tonight to support Lavern Chatman,”” said Ms. Winfrey.

More than 400 supporters were present at the event which focused on empowering women and girls for leadership. Chatman’s 15 young professional mentees and twenty-five students representing schools throughout Virginia’s 8th District – Arlington Public Schools, Francis C. Hammond Middle School, T.C. Williams High School and Mount Vernon High School – were also in attendance.

Speakers included: motivational speaker Gloria Mayfield Banks, N Street Village Executive Director Shroeder Stribling and Mpumi Noviba, a 2011 graduate of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls, who attends college in the United States. Chatman serves as Noviba’s host parent.

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Lavern Chatman and Oprah

Oprah Winfrey Attends To Support Friend Lavern Chatman

(April 5, 2014 – Arlington, VA) – Democratic congressional candidate (VA-CD8) Lavern Chatman hosted a campaign event Saturday night in Arlington, Virginia.

Chatman has run effective nonprofit programs and organizations. She is the former CEO of the Northern Virginia Urban League, she founded the Grandfathers Group mentoring program for at-risk young boys, and co-founded the Nova Coalition an organization focused on increasing voter participation, voter restoration, and civic engagement. Personally, Chatman has a group of 15 young women she mentors called the “Fab 15,” and all 15 women attended.
“I will continue to be a champion for Virginia women,” Chatman said. “I am pro pay equity, pro-choice and pro women’s health. I have been in the trenches working with and mentoring young women and girls and I want to keep making a difference for my community in Congress.”
Chatman serves as a “host parent” for one of the graduates of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls – South Africa while the student is studying in the United States. Philanthropist and global media leader Oprah Winfrey appeared at a campaign in support of her friend.
“Stedman and I came here tonight to support Lavern Chatman,” said Oprah Winfrey. “I’ve seen how Lavern embraced with her whole heart being a host mom to one of my girls, who recently graduated from the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy in South Africa. Lavern makes people feel like they matter, and I see that Lavern is happiest when she is serving others.”
“This was a great event for our campaign and to advance the conversation about what we can do to champion issues that impact women and girls in Virginia,” Chatman said. “Oprah and I share a strong commitment to making a difference for future generations.”
Still photographs and B-roll video of the event are available upon request. Photo credit: Allison O’Brien, aobphoto.
Contact: Megan Irving Tyler, (843) 270-8961 /

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Campaign Momentum Building:

  1. 275 supporters attend kickoff
  2. Places 2nd of 11 in Straw Poll
  3. First candidate to turn in petitions

ALEXANDRIA, VA – Lavern Chatman, candidate for Virginia’s 8th congressional district, has raised over $200,000 in just three weeks of fundraising.

Chatman said to campaign supporters — “We’ve had a great couple of weeks and have a tremendous amount of momentum. With so many candidates running, we knew we needed a fast start and we have achieved that.”

She noted that for the March 31st report they expect to raise even more campaign contributions and are on track to exceed the campaign’s early goals.


1) Despite having never held public office, Chatman placed 2nd out of 11 candidates at Don Beyer’s straw poll last week (behind Don Beyer who hosted the poll).

2) At the Chatman for Congress kick-off event, 275 people turned out in spite of an impending winter storm.

3) Chatman was the first in line to file petitions on March 10th, in only two weeks through a strong grass roots petition program.

The ability to accomplish this in three short weeks demonstrates the enormous potential of her field program and ability to engage volunteers and voters across the 8th District.

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Chatman bests 9 candidates, Close to Event Host Beyer

Alexandria, VA – At Saturday night’s annual Mardi Gras fundraiser for the Mt. Vernon Democratic Committee, every campaign seeking to replace retiring Congressman Jim Moran came out in force. And, on a night when eleven candidates were hoping to shine, Lavern Chatman took center stage with her strong second place finish in the evening’s straw poll. With 83 votes, Lavern lost only to event host and candidate Don Beyer.

“We have a lot of momentum in terms of community support, early fundraising success and now this straw poll” said Lavern. “For the last three weeks, we’ve been connecting to voters, listening to their concerns, and looking for solutions together. I think tonight proves that people are responding to our message, that this election is about getting things done for our community.”

The second place finish is even more impressive when you consider Chatman is a first-time candidate and is running against a large group of elected officials, who failed to drum up enough support to hold off Chatman’s surging campaign. While the straw poll is only one of many milestones in the 8th District Democratic Primary, Chatman is poised to generate a wide range of diverse support needed to win.

Chatman is a Northern Virginia native from a working class family, where her mother spent thirty years as a U.S. Postal employee and her father was an automobile mechanic. She is a community leader, mentor of young men and women, and a champion for small business.  She was a volunteer with America’s Promise and served as President and CEO of the Northern Virginia Urban League where she led efforts to eliminate the educational achievement gap and delivered transformational programs to underserved communities in the 8th District.


Vote Totals  MVDC Mardi Gras

1. Don Beyer: 105/25%
2. Lavern Chatman: 83/20%

3. Patrick Hope: 81/19%
4. Mark Sickles: 51/12%
5. Adam Ebbin: 42/10%
6. Charniele Herring: 15/3%
7. Bill Euille: 11/2%

8. Alfonso Lopez: 11/2%
9. Derek Hyra: 7
10. Mark Levine: 7
11. Bruce Shuttleworth: 3
419 votes cast

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Lavern Chatman kicked off her congressional campaign tonight in Arlington, Virginia.

“The challenges we face demand a new type of leadership and a fresh perspective in Washington. I have spent my entire life working in our community to get things done for the people of Northern Virginia.  Now I want to go to Congress to do even more for the 8th District,” said Chatman.

“The 8th District has been fortunate to be represented by Congressman Jim Moran, a man I am proud to call my friend.  I want to build on his strong progressive leadership.  In Congress, I will fight to protect federal workers from budget cuts. I will fight for continued improvements in education, for women to make their own health care decisions without government intrusion, for pay equity for women and for economic fairness for working families,” Chatman continued.

Chatman is a Northern Virginia native from a working class family, where her mother spent thirty years as a U.S. Postal employee and her father was an automobile mechanic. She is a community leader, mentor of young men and women, and a champion for small business.  She was a volunteer with America’s Promise and served as President and CEO of the Northern Virginia Urban League where she led efforts to eliminate the educational achievement gap and delivered transformational programs to underserved communities.