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Virginia Lieutenant Governor Winsome Earle-Sears Joins School of Public Policy Class to Talk Faith and Self-Determination

Virginia Lieutenant Governor Winsome Earle-Sears

Kiron Skinner, Taube Professor of International Relations and Politics at the Pepperdine School of Public Policy, hosted Virginia lieutenant governor Winsome Earle-Sears at her How to Run the World class on Thursday, January 18, 2024. Sears is the first female lieutenant governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia and the first Black female elected statewide.

Sears discussed her memoir, How Sweet It Is: Defending the American Dream, and engaged with students about self determination and the role of faith in the public square.

A former US Marine, Sears shared that while many attribute her success, determination, and strength of character to her time in the Marine Corps, she acknowledges the role of her faith. “They don’t understand that I met someone greater than the Marine Corps, and that person was Jesus,” she said.Virginia Lieutenant Governor Winsome Earle-Sears

"Lieutenant Governor Sears gave a powerful testimony about the role of her Christian faith in her career as a public servant and it was an eye-opening experience for the students,” adds Skinner. “I learned a great deal as well and we were all deeply honored to spend an hour with Virginia's lieutenant governor."

Sears also emphasized that her Christian faith has driven her political ambitions and helped to guide her during difficulties across the political spectrum. She encourages anyone faced with challenges to understand that their only opponent is themself and that they have the power to incite change when staying true to their values and convictions. “I wanted my book to be something that shows that we overcome,” she said. “No one else can stop you from speaking or confronting issues other than yourself. You are your only opposition.”

“It was an absolute pleasure and honor to have Lieutenant Governor Winsome Earle-Sears of Virginia speak in our Masters of Public Policy class about her faith journey and lessons from her time in Virginia politics,” said School of Public Policy student Caden Benedict (’23). “She spoke on the importance of leading from one's convictions and of valuing service and duty to people over political expediency. Being able to interact and learn from Sears helped me come away with a better understanding of the role individuals play in serving their communities.”

A native of Kingston, Jamaica, Sears immigrated to the United States at the age of six.  Prior to her role as lieutenant governor, she served as the vice president of the Virginia State Board of Education, a presidential appointee to the US Census Bureau, co-chair of the African American Committee, and the Advisory Committee on Women Veterans to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Sears was first elected in 2002 to the House of Delegates. 

Virginia Lieutenant Governor Winsome Earle-SearsAs lieutenant governor, she presides over the Senate when they are in a legislative session and casts the tie-breaking vote. Additionally, she serves on various state boards and commissions, including the Virginia Tourism Authority, the Virginia Military Advisory Council, the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, the Center for Rural Virginia, Secure and Resilient Commonwealth Panel. She also serves as the national secretary of the Aerospace States Association and the chair of its Virginia chapter. Her office has been represented by the Virginia Advanced Air Mobility Alliance since 2022. Sears is also a Fellow at the Hunt Kean Leadership Institute.

Skinner’s course, How to Run the World, examines the use of public policy through political and social discourse that has emerged and guided the nation during some of its darkest chapters. Students are challenged to evaluate public policy and take seriously the proposition that American political philosophy is an enduring feature of government policy discussions and decisions. They are also asked to consider in the absence of that philosophy, that it is practically impossible to understand why citizens of the United States and their leaders take the positions they do on war, peace, foreign assistance, economic policy, human trafficking, and multilateral organizations, among other issues.