A native of Little Rock, Arkansas, Virginia Walden-Ford was raised by William Harry Fowler and Marion Virginia Fowler Armstrong who were both public school educators.Her father was a principal and the first black assistant superintendent of the Little Rock school district. Her mother was one of the first black teachers to work at an all-white elementary school there.
The famed Little Rock Nine were the first African-American students to integrate Central High School, in 1957. But Walden-Ford and her twin sister were among a group of about 130 black students who were handpicked to desegregate the city's high schools on a larger scale in the mid 1960s.
She came to Washington, D.C. in 1977 and worked at Sister Cities International, Inc., a non-profit organization that works with international exchange programs.In 1991, she opened Wee Luv Child Development Center and served as the Executive Director until 1996. Virginia served as Community Outreach Director/Media Specialist for Friends of Choice in Urban Schools (FOCUS), an advocacy organization supporting the growing Washington, D.C. charter school movement. She worked as a volunteer with the Center for Education Reform in their parent outreach campaign in l997and worked with the National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise as Parent Outreach Coordinator and organized parents to support school choice and the D.C. Scholarship Act in 1998.
Virginia is a National Board Member and a founding member of The Black Alliance for Educational Options, Inc. She also serves on the DC Advisory Committee of the US Civil Rights Commission, is a board member of DC Children First, the coalition of DC organizations supporting school choice and is a board member of DC Progress, a new Washington DC Think Tank working to be the voice for residents of the District.
She also serves as Executive Director of D.C. Parents for School Choice, Inc. which she founded in 1998. DCPSC is a clearinghouse organization for parents in Washington, D.C.Its mission is to organize and educate parents in order to empower them to make the appropriate educational decisions for their children. If parents understand school choice, they can advocate for badly needed educational reform.
Called to action in January of 2003 to help lead the effort to get School Choice legislation passed in the District, she organized parents for a successful grassroots effort.DC Parents for School Choice joined a coalition of organizations who had worked tirelessly to make sure that the children of the District and their families would be the beneficiaries of the opportunity to choose schools that best served their children’s educational needs with the passage of the DC School Choice Incentive Act.
Virginia's community involvement began as a result of her own personal experiences. As a single parent, she raised three children in Washington, D.C. Two of her children finished high schools in the District successfully, but with her third child she was faced with deteriorating public schools and violent times. After obtaining a private scholarship for her son to attend Archbishop Carroll HS, she became an outspoken advocate for school choice. She believes passionately that all children should have the chance to obtain a quality education and that parents should be able to choose and send their children to the schools that best meet their needs.
Among her honors Virginia was the recipient of the Heritage Foundation's prestigious 2004 Salvatori Prize for American Citizenship, the Black Alliance for Educational Options’ (BAEO) 2004 Vision Award and the 2005 Leonard F. DeFiore Parental Choice Advocate Award from the National Catholic Education Association (NCEA) and the 2008 John T. Walton Champions for School Choice Award from the Alliance for School Choice.
She is the author ofVoices, Choices, and Second Chances: How to Win the Battle to Bring Opportunity Scholarships to Your State.Based on the dramatic story and ultimately successful campaign of D.C. Parents for School Choice, this book teaches parents how to fight to free children and their families from failing schools.