Anthony Woods

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Anthony Woods
Woods West Point3.jpg
Born Anthony Christopher Woods
(1980-07-20) July 20, 1980 (age 36)
Fairfield, California
Alma mater West Point
Harvard University
Occupation White House Fellow (U.S. Office of Personnel Management)
Political party Democratic

Anthony “Tony” Christopher Woods (born July 20, 1980) is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, who was discharged from the United States Army in 2008 for violating the military's "Don't ask, don't tell" policy.[1] In 2009, Woods ran for U.S. Congress in California's 10th congressional district to fill a vacant seat, in a bid to become the first openly-gay African American in Congress.[2] He placed 4th, receiving 8% of a special election vote on September 1, 2009 behind John Garamendi, Mark DeSaulnier, and Joan Buchanan. He was part of the 2011-2012 Class of White House Fellows.[3]

Early life[edit]

Born on July 20, 1980 at Travis Air Force Base in the 10th Congressional District, Woods was raised by a single mother[4] who supported her family as a small business owner and housekeeper.[5] As a child, Woods lived in both Fairfield and Vacaville in the East Bay region of California. He graduated with honors from Vanden High School in 1999.[6] Woods attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point after graduation, having received a nomination[7] from Congressman Vic Fazio (D CA-3).

Military career (2003–2008)[edit]

At West Point, he played sprint football in the fall and ran indoor and outdoor track in winter and spring.[citation needed] He majored in economics and political science, and graduated in 2003 with a B.S. in Economics and American Politics.[5][6] In addition to his double major, he completed an engineering concentration (minor) in computer science.

In his last two years at the Academy, he was a representative on the cadet honor committee and commander of summer training for the rising yearling (sophomore) class.[citation needed]

Woods was commissioned in the Army as a second lieutenant in the Armor branch and began the Armor Officer Basic Course at Fort Knox, Kentucky in July 2003. While there, he volunteered[citation needed] for his first deployment to Iraq to lead a platoon of National Guard soldiers. Woods deployed to the Diyala province of Iraq, where he served for eleven months.[citation needed]

Woods returned from this deployment to the U.S. in January, 2005 and was transferred from Fort Bragg to Fort Carson, Colorado. Later that year, in June, 2005, he made his second deployment to Iraq with the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment.[citation needed]

Woods on active service in Iraq

Upon return from his second deployment, the Army selected Woods to teach at West Point, an unusual appointment[citation needed] for so junior an officer and one which would require him to earn a graduate degree first. That year, he matriculated to the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University where he studied for a master's degree in public policy.

While at Harvard, Woods volunteered to mentor low-income minorities applying to college and numerous other community leadership activities, including co-founding the first student chapter of the Fuller Center for Housing, and making three trips to New Orleans to assist families struggling to rebuild following Hurricane Katrina.[7] For this work, he was among a group of students awarded the Robert F. Kennedy Public Service Award.[citation needed]

Woods helping in the recovery after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans

During the summer of 2007, Woods co-led a group of thirty cyclists across the U.S. to raise money for Habitat for Humanity through a non-profit group known as Bike & Build. The trip took them from the Outer Banks of North Carolina to San Diego, California. The group raised over $130,000 and built homes in five different states during the course of the trip across the United States.

Prior to graduation in 2008, Woods competed to speak at Harvard’s annual commencement and was one of three students chosen to give a commencement speech.[8][9]

Shortly after graduation, Woods reported to Fort Knox, Kentucky for the Armor Captain's Career Course. Shortly thereafter, Woods outed himself as gay, and was subsequently discharged under the government's now repealed “Don't ask, don't tell” policy.[8] For this decision, Woods was ordered to reimburse the Army for the $35,000 tuition paid on his behalf to attend Harvard.[10] In December 2008, the U.S. Army completed the discharge process for Woods.

Life after the military (2008–2009)[edit]

After his honorable discharge from the Army, Woods worked as an aide for Governor David Paterson of New York.[4]

Congressional campaign (2010)[edit]

On March 18, 2009, Woods declared his intention run for Congress in a special election to replace Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-CA), who was nominated by President Barack Obama to serve as Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security. His campaign made it a high-profile affair receiving national attention.[8] However, his bid to become the first openly gay African-American elected to Congress ended when he lost a special election held on September 1, 2009, receiving under 9 percent of the vote.[11][12]

ServiceNation (2010–2011)[edit]

Following the campaign in California, Woods returned to Washington, D.C. where he worked for the nonprofit, Be the Change, Inc. Woods helped run the organization's ServiceNation campaign devoted to increasing support for expanding national service programs like the Peace Corps and Americorps. Woods functioned as the Director of the "Service as a Strategy" initiative helping develop volunteer-driven solutions for American cities.

White House Fellowship (2011–present)[edit]

In 2011, Woods became a member of the 2011-2012 Class of White House Fellows. According to its website, "the purpose of the White House Fellows program is to provide gifted and highly motivated young Americans with some first-hand experience in the process of governing the Nation and a sense of personal involvement in the leadership of society.".[13] It is awarded in a non-partisan manner. Woods was placed at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management under John Berry.

Rumors (2014)[edit]

He is rumored to be considering a future run for elected office following an extensive "Draft Tony Woods" campaign on social media.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Former soldier Anthony Woods on Don't Ask, Don't Tell", Washington Post, June 28, 2009
  2. ^ "Congressional Race in California Draws a High-Profile Cast", New York Times, July 3, 2009
  3. ^ "2011-2012 Class of White House Fellows | The White House". The White House. Archived from the original on 2015-02-16. Retrieved 2017-03-09. 
  4. ^ a b "Anthony Woods: Taking a Stand". Harvard Magazine. Jan–Feb 2009. Retrieved September 8, 2009. 
  5. ^ a b "Anthony Woods, Democrat". Contra Costa Times. August 2, 2009. Retrieved September 8, 2009.  (candidate profile)
  6. ^ a b "FCJ Interview with CA-10 Candidate Anthony Woods". Fog City Journal. August 18, 2009. Retrieved September 8, 2009. 
  7. ^ a b "Anthony Woods Launches Petition Calling for National Service To College Program". California Chronicle. June 3, 2009. Retrieved September 8, 2009.  (reprinting news release from Woods' congressional campaign)
  8. ^ a b c "Gay veteran's military dismissal puts spotlight on California congressional race", McClatchy News Service, July 4, 2009
  9. ^ Anthony Woods MPP 2008 Calls Graduates to Action in Harvard Commencement Address, Woods 2008 Address at
  10. ^ "Woods Gets Honorable Discharge, Must Repay Tuition". Harvard Magazine. March 2, 2009. Retrieved September 8, 2009. 
  11. ^ Congressional District 10 Special Primary Election Results Archived October 19, 2009, at the Wayback Machine., California Secretary of State
  12. ^ "Anthony Woods Loses Congressional Bid". The Advocate. September 2, 2009. Retrieved September 8, 2009. 
  13. ^ "White House Fellows,"

External links[edit]