The Secretary of Education provides guidance and support to the Virginia Department of Education, the Virginia Community College System, and the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, as well as Virginia’s public and private higher education and research centers.
Office of the Secretary of Education
Patrick Henry Building
1111 East Broad Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219
Phone: (804) 786-1151
Atif Qarni, Secretary of Education
Prior to his appointment as Governor Northam’s Secretary of Education, Atif Qarni taught at Beville Middle School in Prince William County, leading courses in civics, economics, U.S History, and mathematics. He also served as a GED Night School Instructor. In 2016, Atif was recognized as the Dale City Teacher of the Year.
In addition to his work as an educator, Atif is a former Sergeant of the United States Marine Corps, and was deployed to Iraq in 2003 during Operation Iraqi Freedom. He has also served at the state level, having been appointed by Governor Terry McAuliffe to the Small Business Commission in 2013.
Secretary Qarni holds a Bachelor’s in Sociology from George Washington University as well as a Master’s in History and teaching license from George Mason University.
Frances C. Bradford, Deputy Secretary of Education
Fran Bradford has spent the past twenty-seven years championing Virginia higher education through the state and federal legislative and policy processes. She currently serves Deputy Secretary of Education for Governor Northam. Prior to this role, she was at the College of William & Mary for fourteen years, most recently serving as the Associate Vice President for Government Relations. Before arriving at William & Mary, Fran served in several communications and government relations roles at the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) from 1990-2003. In the fall of 2005, she was called on to fill the position of Deputy Secretary of Education during the remaining months of Governor Mark Warner’s term.Ms. Bradford also serves on the Executive Board of the Virginia Network, an organization that promotes women’s leadership in higher education. She previously served as the Chair of the taskforce for the National Higher Education Government Relations Conference (Sponsored by CASE, AASCU, and APLU).
Ms. Bradford earned a Bachelor of Arts from Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana and she holds a Masters of Public Administration from Virginia Tech. She also holds a certificate of completion from Virginia’s Commonwealth Management Institute. A native Virginian, she resides with her family in Richmond.
Tori Noles, Policy Advisor to the Secretary of Education
Tori Noles currently serves as the Policy Advisor to Atif Qarni, Virginia Secretary of Education. Tori is passionate about advancing equity in education, and works to ensure that every student, school, and educator in Virginia has the resources they need to flourish. Before joining the Northam Administration, Ms. Noles served as the Engagement and Opioid Prevention Coordinator at the Virginia Department of Social Services.
Ms. Noles graduated from the University of Richmond with a degree in Political Science and Philosophy, and previously served as a Governor’s Fellow in the McAuliffe Administration.
Hala Al-Tinawi, Executive Assistant
Hala Al-Tinawi currently serves as the Executive Assistant to Atif Qarni, Virginia Secretary of Education. Ms. Al-Tinawi believes that education is the first step to success and hopes to help make a positive impact on the field of Education in Virginia.Hala grew up in Chesterfield, Virginia, and graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a Bachelors’s in History and Psychology. She previously interned at the Virginia Museum of History and culture before going on to work as a Middle School History teacher.
Virginia Department of Education
The vision of the Virginia Department of Education is that Virginia will maximize the potential of all learners.
The mission of the Virginia Department of Education is to advance equitable and innovative learning.
Dr. James F. Lane was appointed Virginia’s 25th Superintendent of Public Instruction by Governor Ralph S. Northam, effective June 1, 2018. As state superintendent Dr. Lane serves as the executive officer of the Virginia Department of Education, which is the administrative agency for the commonwealth’s public schools. He leads the external functions of the agency and also manages the internal operations. Dr. Lane also serves as secretary of the state Board of Education.
Division of Budget, Finance, and Operations – Kent Dickey, Deputy Superintendent
The Division of Budget, Finance, and Operations is responsible for distributing state and federal funds to school divisions and provides technical assistance to school divisions in the areas of finance, budget, teacher education and licensure, pupil transportation, child nutrition programs, and school facilities. It administers the Literary Fund school construction loan program, educational technology and school security equipment grants to divisions, and two education tax credit programs for donations to eligible entities. The division provides services to the Department in the areas of finance, budget, financial systems and reporting, procurement, and internal support services.
Division of School Quality, Instruction, and Performance – Donald Fairheart, Deputy Superintendent and Chief of Staff
The Division of School Quality, Instruction, and Performance leads the Department’s strategic initiatives to advance equitable student outcomes and comprehensive school quality. Through tailored support to schools, the division implements Virginia’s continuous school quality and improvement interventions. Additionally, the division leads the Department’s efforts aimed at advancing equity, closing achievement gaps, coordinating stakeholder engagement, and managing external communications and outreach strategies. Finally, the Division is responsible for supporting the implementation of Virginia’s Standards of Learning, strengthening curriculum resources, supporting best practices in pedagogy and providing technical assistance to teachers and schools.
Division of School Readiness – Jenna Conway, Chief School Readiness Officer
The Division of School Readiness helps prepare all Virginia children for kindergarten by supporting birth to five programming, including the Virginia Preschool Initiative and Early Childhood Special Education. The division focuses on key classroom practices including: the use of high-quality curriculum and assessment, teacher-child interactions and individualized professional development, as well as strengthening family engagement. The division also works with other state agencies that serve young children to build a more unified birth to five early childhood care and education system.
Department of Policy, Equity, and Communications – Holly Coy, Assistant Superintendent
The mission of the Department of Policy, Equity, and Communications is to assist the Virginia Board of Education, the governor and the General Assembly in the development of legislation, regulations, and policies that promote student learning and achievement and to provide timely and accurate information about public education in the commonwealth. Department staff serve as liaison to the Board, and support the Board in promoting education reform. The department monitors federal policies and refers them to other divisions for oversight. The department maintains working relationships with the news media, educational organizations, and school divisions to ensure timely distributing of accurate information concerning the Board of Education policies and the Agency actions.
Virginia Community College System
We give everyone the opportunity to learn and develop the right skills so lives and communities are strengthened.
A Six Year Strategic Plan for Virginia’s Community Colleges
Virginia’s community colleges serve an estimated 400,000 people across the state. The opportunities we provide include some of the most cutting-edge and highly-demanded training and education available.
But, simply accessing those opportunities is no longer enough. You have to earn a credential to make it count toward a career.
Over the next ten years, Virginia will need to fill 1.5 million jobs. The majority of these jobs will require a postsecondary credential – an associate degree and the certifications and licensures that are our bread-and-butter.
To accommodate the demand for these middle-skill-level jobs (more than a high school degree but less than a bachelor’s), Virginia’s Community Colleges are embarking on a new six-year strategic plan to triple the number of credentials that our students earn by the year 2021.
State Council of Higher Education for Virginia
The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) is the Commonwealth’s coordinating body for higher education. SCHEV was established by the Governor and General Assembly in 1956. Then as now, our mission, which is outlined in the Code of Virginia, is “to advocate and promote the development and operation of an educationally and economically sound, vigorous, progressive, and coordinated system of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia and to lead state-level strategic planning and policy development and implementation based on research and analysis …. The Council shall also seek to facilitate collaboration among institutions of higher education that will enhance quality and create operational efficiencies and shall work with institutions of higher education and their boards on board development.”
To fulfill our mission, SCHEV makes higher education public policy recommendations to the Governor and General Assembly in such areas as capital and operating budget planning, enrollment projections, institutional technology needs, and student financial aid. SCHEV administers a variety of educational programs that benefit students, faculty, parents, and taxpayers. SCHEV serves as a catalyst to promote greater access, quality, affordability, and accountability throughout the system. SCHEV also helps policymakers, college administrators, and other concerned leaders work cooperatively and constructively to advance educational excellence.