Meet VCOG's new exec. director
By Bill Atkinson, Virginia Press Association
Who would have thought that "the Grim Reaper" would have such a positive vocal tone?
Jennifer L. Perkins, who spent four years on Capitol Hill as assistant and counsel to two senators, is the new executive director of the Virginia Coalition for Open Government.
Perkins, who assumed her new duties July 1, returns to working around state and local government levels, which she feels is her bailiwick.
"I really enjoy state and local politics more," Perkins said. "But the federal government was something I felt I had to do."
Perkins’ four years on Capitol Hill began in 2003, when she was hired as a legislative assistant to former Sen. Lincoln Chafee, R-RI. She was Chafee’s primary adviser on a wide range of issues, from taxes to retirement issues to Indian affairs.
Two years later, Perkins was named counsel and adviser to Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine. Her primary focus was on Senate Finance Committee issues and work with the media on Snowe’s behalf.
Before going to Washington, Perkins spent six years in state and local policy areas. She worked for the Rhode Island League of Cities and Towns, and held a fellowship in fiscal issues and policy with the Rhode Island state Senate.
Perkins now lives in Warrenton.
Perkins replaced Forrest M. "Frosty" Landon (left), who became director 10 years ago when VCOG was formed. Landon has agreed to assist Perkins in the transition for the next few months.
She said that she is looking forward to the opportunity, admitting that she was not very familiar with VCOG before applying for the job. However, through her work with the municipal league in Rhode Island, she was aware of public-access issues in general.
A graduate of the University of Maine and the Roger Williams School of Law, Perkins said her main focus during the first months of her job will be "to analyze what the Coalition offers to its members and potential members" and how that can be improved.
She also said that she plans to examine how the annual VCOG conference can be expanded.
When not working, Perkins lists her favorite activities as cooking, hiking, running, wine-tasting and traveling. She also spent five summers as a commercial fisherman in Bristol Bay, Alaska.
OK, so how did someone so active and busy as Perkins get such a nickname as "the Grim Reaper?" She laughed when asked. "That came when I was a lobbyist for Cities and Towns," Perkins recalled.
"They started calling me the Grim Reaper because I had a reputation for killing legislation."
Jennifer can be reached at
Bill Atkinson is publications editor of the Virginia Press Association.
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