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Anne Holton

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Anne Holton
Holton in 2016
President of George Mason University
In office
June 20, 2019 (2019-06-20) – June 30, 2020 (2020-06-30)
Preceded byÁngel Cabrera
Succeeded byGregory Washington
17th Virginia Secretary of Education
In office
January 11, 2014 (2014-01-11) – July 25, 2016 (2016-07-25)
GovernorTerry McAuliffe
Preceded byJavaid Siddiqi
Succeeded byDietra Trent
First Lady of Virginia
In role
January 14, 2006 (2006-01-14) – January 16, 2010 (2010-01-16)
GovernorTim Kaine
Preceded byLisa Collis
Succeeded byMaureen McDonnell
Personal details
Anne Bright Holton

(1958-02-01) February 1, 1958 (age 66)
Roanoke, Virginia, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
(m. 1984)
RelativesWoody Holton (brother)
Dwight Holton (brother)
EducationPrinceton University (BA)
Harvard University (JD)

Anne Bright Holton (born February 1, 1958) is an American lawyer and judge who served as the Secretary of Education for the Commonwealth of Virginia from 2014 to 2016. She is married to United States Senator and former Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, the vice presidential running mate of Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.

Holton served as First Lady of Virginia from 2006 to 2010. She served as interim president of George Mason University from 2019 to 2020.

Early life[edit]

Born in Roanoke, Virginia, Holton is the daughter of Virginia Harrison "Jinks" (Rogers) and Linwood Holton,[1][2] a lawyer and Republican Party politician. Her paternal grandfather was an executive at a small coal-hauling railroad.[3] As a child, Holton started a club dedicated to service and good deeds.[4] In 1969, her father was elected as governor of Virginia, as a Republican serving from 1970 to 1974.[5]

When her father became governor, he first enrolled Holton in a prestigious grade school.[4] In response to a federal court decision desegregating Richmond Public Schools, she and her siblings attended predominantly black schools, including Mosby Middle School, near the Virginia Executive Mansion.[6] Holton attended Open High School, and graduated from Langley High School in 1976.[4][7][8]

One of Holton's brothers is Woody Holton, a professor of history at the University of South Carolina.[4][9] Another one of her brothers, Dwight Holton served as United States Attorney for the District of Oregon from February 2010 to October 2011.

Education, marriage and children[edit]

Holton with her husband at the 2012 Democratic National Convention

Holton graduated magna cum laude from Princeton University with a degree from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs in 1980.[7] At Princeton, Holton was a member of Colonial Club.[10]

Holton then attended Harvard Law School, where she met her future husband, Tim Kaine.[11] The future couple met as students in a legal assistance program focusing on prisoners' civil rights.[4] While a law student, Holton also served on the Mental Health Legal Advisors Committee.[4] Both Holton and Kaine earned their law degrees from Harvard in 1983.[12]

They married in November 1984 at a Roman Catholic church in Richmond.[13] Holton decided to keep her maiden name, a decision Kaine supported.[14] They moved to the North Side neighborhood of Richmond, where they have lived ever since.[15] The couple has three children: Nat (b. 1990), Woody (b. 1992), and Annella (b. 1995).[16]


Law clerk and legal aid attorney[edit]

Following graduation from law school, Holton served as a law clerk for Judge Robert R. Merhige Jr. of the Richmond-based United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.[4][17] From 1985 to 1998, she worked as an attorney for the Central Virginia Legal Aid Society, where she helped create an award-winning volunteer lawyers' program in Richmond.[18]


In the mid-1990s, Holton occasionally served as a substitute judge for the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court for the City of Richmond.[7] When the court expanded to a fifth permanent judgeship, Holton applied for the post and was appointed.[7] Holton was sworn in as a judge on June 30, 1998, one day before Kaine was sworn in as mayor.[7] Holton served as chief judge of the court, assuming that post in 2000.[4][19]

Holton administered the oath of office at her husband's inauguration as Lieutenant Governor of Virginia in 2002.[4][20] Holton was not allowed to participate in her husband's campaign for governor in 2005 because of her position as a judge.[21] Holton resigned from the bench following her husband's election as governor in 2005.[17][22]

Education Secretary of Virginia[edit]

After Kaine's term as governor ended, Holton served as director of the Great Expectations program, an initiative that helped foster children attend schools in the Virginia Community College System.[7] In 2014, Virginia governor-elect Terry McAuliffe appointed Holton to be the state's Education Secretary.[6]

As Education Secretary, Holton wrote in 2015 that high-stakes testing in Virginia resulted in "teaching to the test" and made it difficult to attract good teachers to low-income schools. Holton supported increases in teacher pay and changes to the state's high school curriculum.[23] She said she supported increased professional development for teachers.[24][25] She also indicated her support for McAuliffe's 2016 legislative proposals to change high school graduation requirements and focus on early college courses and industry credentials.[24][26] Holton resigned as Education Secretary on July 25, 2016, in order to focus on her husband's campaign for vice president.[27]

In February 2017, Governor McAuliffe appointed Holton to the Virginia State Board of Education.[28] As a member of the Board of Education, Holton stated that she was in favor of charter schools along with other forms of education innovation, positing that strong charter school proposals help provide children with a pathway to life success. Holton also stated that Virginia's tradition of charter schools requiring approval by local school boards, as enshrined in the Constitution of Virginia, has served Virginia well, encouraging charter school proposals to make their case to local school boards.[29]

Visiting professor at George Mason University[edit]

In May 2017, George Mason University announced that Holton would join the faculty as a visiting professor at the School of Public Policy and Management and at the College of Education and Human Development, and as a visiting Fellow at the Center for Education Policy and Evaluation.[30]

Interim President of George Mason University[edit]

In June 2019, George Mason University announced that Holton would serve as the interim President of George Mason University beginning August 1, 2019.[31] She remained in that role until Gregory Washington took office on July 1, 2020.[32]

First Lady of Virginia[edit]

Following Thomas Jefferson's daughter, Martha Jefferson Randolph, Holton was the second daughter of a Virginia Governor to become First Lady of Virginia.[18] Holton was the only person to live in the Virginia Governor's Mansion as a child and as an adult.[33]

As First Lady, she launched the "For Keeps: Families for all Virginia Teens" initiative in January 2007. The initiative focused on finding stable families willing to take in Virginia children in foster care, especially older or difficult-to-place children.[34] In doing so she said was motivated by an urge to fix some of the problems she had witnessed in the foster care system during her stint as a judge in the juvenile court.[21]

During the 2008 presidential election, her husband was an early endorser of Barack Obama and Holton headed the state's Women for Obama group.[21]

Role during the 2016 presidential campaign[edit]

Holton in 2016, campaigning for Hillary Clinton and her husband, Tim Kaine, in Phoenix, Arizona.

In 2016, Democratic Party presidential nominee Hillary Clinton selected Holton's husband Tim Kaine to serve as her running-mate. Following her husband's selection as Clinton's running mate, Holton began traveling the country campaigning for the 2016 Democratic ticket.[35] Immediately after the 2016 Democratic National Convention, Holton joined Clinton and Kaine on a bus trip through Pennsylvania and Ohio.[36] She continued campaigning, sometimes appearing with her husband and sometimes alone, in several states.[36] Holton discussed policy surrounding childcare and initiatives for small businesses when campaigning.[35][36]

During the campaign, there was speculation that if her husband were to become vice-president, Holton might fill the vacancy that would be left in Kaine's senate seat. Holton denied having any interest in the position, saying, in reference to the Vice President's role as President of the Senate, "I will never let (my) husband be my boss".[37]

Civic involvements and personal life[edit]

Holton sits on numerous boards, including Voices of Virginia's Children, the Richmond Public Schools Education Foundation, and the advisory board of Youth-Nex, the University of Virginia Center to Promote Effective Youth Development at the School of Education and Human Development (formerly the Curry School of Education). She has also been active in school PTAs.[38] Holton has received the Metropolitan Richmond Women's Bar Association's Women of Achievement Award (1995),[39] the YWCA of Richmond's Outstanding Woman of the Year in Law award (2006),[38] and the Annie E. Casey Foundation's Life Award of Distinction.[38]

Holton and Kaine are congregants of the St. Elizabeth Catholic Church in Richmond, a mostly African American congregation.[40]

Holton is a longtime clog dancer, taking up the hobby in high school.[4]


  1. ^ "A. Linwood Holton (1923– )". Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. 2014.
  2. ^ "Linwood Holton". National Governors Association. 2015. Retrieved Jul 23, 2016.
  3. ^ Hershman, James H. Jr. (March 24, 2014). "A. Linwood Holton (1923– )". Encyclopedia of Virginia. Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. Retrieved October 5, 2016.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Jason Horwitz, For Anne Holton, Tim Kaine's Wife, Elite Circles Are Old Turf, New York Times (August 5, 2016).
  5. ^ Craig, Tim (September 13, 2008). "Virginia Politics Blog-Linwood Holton to Campaign For Obama". The Washington Post. Retrieved Jul 23, 2016.
  6. ^ a b "McAuliffe picks Anne Holton for education secretary". Washington Post. January 3, 2014. Retrieved January 3, 2014.
  7. ^ a b c d e f Louis Llovio, Anne Holton, wife of Tim Kaine, steps down as Va. secretary of education, Richmond Times-Dispatch (July 26, 2016).
  8. ^ Williams, Preston. "A Conversation with Anne Holton". GMU Spirit. The Mason Spirit. Retrieved 17 December 2021.
  9. ^ Kapsidelis, Karin (April 3, 2013). "History professor Woody Holton leaves UR for USC". Richmond Times-Dispatch. Retrieved Jul 23, 2016.
  10. ^ "Holton '80 no stranger to political spotlight" Archived 2016-08-20 at the Wayback Machine, Daily Princetonian (December).
  11. ^ Aaron Blake, "10 things you should know about Tim Kaine, Hillary Clinton's new running mate", Washington Post (July 22, 2016).
  12. ^ Sophy Bishop, "Work-life balance: a conversation with Former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, First Lady Anne Holton, Harvard Law School (March 22, 2012).
  13. ^ "From the RTD archives: Wedding announcement of Tim Kaine and Anne Holton", Richmond Times-Dispatch (Jul 21, 2016) (reprinting of announcement originally published on Nov 25, 1984).
  14. ^ Gupta, Prachi (8 September 2016). "Why Anne Holton, Wife of VP Nominee Tim Kaine, Never Changed Her Last Name". Cosmopolitan. Retrieved 12 October 2016.
  15. ^ "Tim Kaine: About". United States Senate. Retrieved July 27, 2016.
  16. ^ Timeline: Sen. Tim Kaine's life and career, Richmond Times-Dispatch (July 22, 2016).
  17. ^ a b Balingit, Moriah; Brown, Emma (Jul 22, 2016). "Meet Tim Kaine's wife, a longtime child welfare advocate and Virginia's secretary of education". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 23, 2016.
  18. ^ a b "Anne Holton Stumps In Area For Her Husband, Tim Kaine". Virginian Review. Jul 25, 2012. Retrieved Jul 23, 2016.
  19. ^ "Green Award Honors Anne Holton and Tim Kaine". Richmond University. March 1, 2012. Retrieved 8 April 2024.
  20. ^ Tim Kaine and Anne Holton Archived 2017-06-25 at the Wayback Machine (Associated Press photo by Steve Helber) (January 12, 2002).
  21. ^ a b c Somashekhar, Sandhya (April 25, 2008). "Kain's wife puts career on hold for a higher profile". The Washington Post. Retrieved Jul 27, 2016.
  22. ^ "Our History". Central Virginia Legal Aid Society. 2014. Retrieved July 23, 2016.
  23. ^ Moriah Balingit & Emma Brown, Meet Tim Kaine's wife, a longtime child welfare advocate and Virginia's secretary of education, Washington Post (July 22, 2016).
  24. ^ a b Howson, Susan (3 February 2016). "The State of Education In Virginia According to Anne Holton". www.vccs.edu. Retrieved 12 October 2016.
  25. ^ McQuade, Dan (10 October 2016). "Q&A: Anne Holton, Clinton Ally, on Education". Philadelphia Magazine. Retrieved 13 October 2016.
  26. ^ Education, Virginia Department of (12 January 2016). "VDOE :: January 15, 2016 – Governor McAuliffe and Virginia Council on Women Announce the 4th Annual STEM Essay Contest". www.doe.virginia.gov. Retrieved 12 October 2016.
  27. ^ Moriah Balingit, "Anne Holton, wife of Clinton's running mate, resigns as Va.'s education secretary", Washington Post (July 26, 2016).
  28. ^ Balingit, Moriah (February 17, 2017). "Va. governor appoints Anne Holton to education board". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 13, 2017.
  29. ^ "September 20, 2018 Minutes". Virginia Department of Education. Retrieved 17 December 2021.
  30. ^ "Former Virginia Secretary of Education Anne Holton joins Mason faculty". George Mason University. 2017. Retrieved Mar 12, 2018.
  31. ^ Anderson, Nick. "Anne Holton named George Mason U. interim president". Washington Post. Retrieved 21 June 2019.
  32. ^ Lumpkin, Lauren; Svrluga, Susan (24 Feb 2020). "George Mason selects dean of UC-Irvine engineering school as its next president". The Washington Post. Retrieved 27 Jul 2020.
  33. ^ Louis Llovio, "Anne Holton, wife of Tim Kaine, is down-to-earth advocate who's tough and no stranger to the limelight", Richmond Times-Dispatch (July 22, 2016).[dead link]
  34. ^ Holton, Anne (Apr 7, 2007). "Other Voices: Finding Families For All Of Virginia's Kids". Daily Press. Retrieved Jul 23, 2016.
  35. ^ a b Johnson, Akilah (1 September 2016). "Anne Holton stumps for husband's ticket - The Boston Globe". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2016-09-10.
  36. ^ a b c Vozzella, Laura (4 September 2016). "Grocery shopping with Secret Service: Anne Holton tries to keep it real". Washington Post. Retrieved 2016-09-10.
  37. ^ Wallace, Gregory (October 12, 2016). "Anne Holton doesn't want Kaine's Senate seat: 'I will never let (my) husband be my boss'". www.cnn.com. CNN. Retrieved July 13, 2017.
  38. ^ a b c Profile: Anne Holton Archived 2014-01-12 at the Wayback Machine, Virginia Governor's Cabinet (accessed July 24, 2016).
  39. ^ MRWBA Women of Achievement Award Recipients Archived 2016-07-06 at the Wayback Machine, Metropolitan Richmond Women's Bar Association (accessed July 24, 2016).
  40. ^ Tim Kaine: Everything You Need to Know, ABC News (July 22, 2016).

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