White House Official Holds Faith Leaders Briefing

From left to right: Vice Mayor Corky Booze, Paul Monteiro, associate director of Obama’s Office of Public Engagement and Councilmember Nat Bates.

By Kia Croom

More than 70 Richmond clergy attended a White House Clergy and Faith Leaders Briefing on Jan. 26 at the Richmond Civic Center Plaza to meet Paul Monteiro, associate director of Obama’s Office of Public Engagement.

Monteiro said he was well aware of the potential financial perils to communities that would be impacted by the federal government’s failure to pay its bills or maintain spending on social programs.

The clergy is a “moral voice”—a powerful body of leaders who can impact policy on health care, education, economic justice and safety net programs, he said Monteiro welcomed questions and feedback, which he said he would share with the White House staff.

Vice Mayor Corky Booze encouraged the audience to act on Monteiro’s challenge and work together for change in Richmond. Dr. Daniel Byrd of the Greenling Institute talked about re-entry planning and unemployment. Pastor Raymond Lankford, CEO of Healthy Communities, discussed the need for healthcare services for low-income Richmond residents.

The briefing was hosted by Sabrina Saunders of the One Accord Project , in partnership with Operation Richmond, Greater El Bethel Missionary Baptist, Healthy Communities and Healthy Richmond.

Among those who attended were Supervisor John Gioia; Latressa Alford, field representative Congressman George Miller; Richmond City Councilman Jael Myrick; and Celeste Hale of the Department of Labor.