I last sat down with Cynthia Newbille for an interview back in 2009. She was running for the 7th District City Council seat in a special election to replace Delores McQuinn, who had just moved up to the House of Delegates.
That may have been the first time that I actually met Mrs.Newbille. Over the past 7 years, I’ve seen her at innumerous meetings and civic gatherings.
In that time I’ve come to understand Councilwoman Newbille as someone who is deeply respectful of process, whose favorite word may be “collaboration”. Newbille is not an out front leader, and will not claim individual credit for much. She lights up, though, when she speaks on the results in the area from organizations working together, and whenever she can break out her trademark “It’s a great day in the 7th District”.
What has been the focus of your time on City Council?
“I’d like to think that I’ve been able to do is to work collaboratively with the various stakeholders to address the challenges confronting our community. Probably the most recent that folks would have heard about is the grocery store, a ten million dollar project. We have the developer, we have the operator, we have a commitment on employing residents throughout the East End.”
“The SEED grants have been an opportunity to bring businesses to help revitalize our community, and bring amenities that residents would like to have but also to create employment opportunities for residents throughout the community. That’s the part that is exciting. It’s a win-win.”
“The Creighton Court transformation that’s in progress … We’re talking about transforming our public housing community into mixed income, mixed-use opportunities. The family will have choices, in terms of selecting where they live. There’s a commitment to one-for-one replacement. […] We’re excited. A part of that effort is just not about the houses and the buildings, it’s about the families, and working closely with families, so that they can get on a trajectory towards self-sufficiency and employment.”
What is your role on City Council towards supporting the public schools?
“Working with council. Working with the administration. To really talk about how it is that we identify sufficient dollars to provide appropriate compensation for staff. To provide a type of resources for state-of-the-art academic programming, and curriculum, as well as state-of-the-art facility construction. I see my role as really working closely with all three entities, so that we jointly come up with a strategy to make sure that, that happens, and that we identify funding to make sure it happens over the next several years.”
What kind of challenges do you see for us in the near future?
“I think that we will have to be vigilant around transportation, and making sure that we are thinking strategically about multimodal transportation. The Bus Rapid Transit, how it connects with the other routes, so that it’s not just a single route from one place to the other, but we really are thoughtful about how individuals who rely upon public transportation are connected to these systems. That we’ve taken into consideration, walking, biking, cars, trains, the entirety, and how it’s all connected. […]”
“For me, over the next term, it’s really looking more strategically at all of that we’re doing to make sure we’re having the maximum impact, that we’re really building a healthier community, and when I say healthy, I mean, housing, education, employment … A safe, healthy, community for all who reside here.”
Ms.Newbille was raised in Whitcomb Court and attended her neighborhood schools: Whitcomb Elementary, the then-Mosby Middle School, and Armstrong High School (on 31st Street). After Armstrong, Newbille earned a Bachelor’s in psychology/linguistics and a Master’s in psychology at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. She received her Ph.D. in Public Policy and Administration from VCU in 2010.
Her professional career has taken her to California, Georgia, and back again. In the early 1990s, Ms.Newbille served as the executive Director of the National Black Women’s Health Project out of Atlanta, Georgia. Before that, she was director of the Head Start Program at Charles Drew University in Compton, California. A 1991 Muncie Times piece on Ms.Newbille says that several of the programs established by Ms.Newbille at Head Start “gained national attention because of their success”, including programs which enlisted parents in the co-management of various Head Start activities and the management of the Parent Training Center (which offered job-training to low-income parents).
Newbille later moved back to Richmond and served as chief of staff to then-City Manager Calvin D. Jamison and managed the city’s East District Initiative. She later served as the acting executive director of the United Way’s Family Resource Center on 24th Street. During this time Newbille worked towards getting the Capital Area Health Network funded and growing, ans was part of putting together Neighborhoods in Bloom.