VPAP: Thank You, David Poole … Congrats, Chris Piper

A changing of the guard at the nonpartisan Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP) provides the opportunity to say thank you to retiring founder David Poole who has been at the helm since VPAP’s beginning 26 years ago. He was always gracious, kind, and responsive to my questions and requests and, for that, I am grateful.

A Wednesday press release from VPAP announced the news:

The nonpartisan Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP) has named Chris Piper, a former Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Elections, as its next executive director.

Piper will succeed VPAP’s founder David M. Poole, who is retiring on June 30 after 26 years.

“When the Board of Directors undertook the task of finding a new executive director for VPAP, we knew we were facing a daunting task to replace the quarter of a century of excellence and trust that David Poole established,” said Bill Leighty, chair of the VPAP Board of Directors.

Vice Chair Abby Farris Rogers said that Piper’s experience in campaign finance and elections vaulted him ahead of more than 150 applicants. “The Board is confident that we have found the right leader to advance VPAP’s nonpartisan mission,” she said.

Chris will bring 20 years of experience in campaign finance, elections and government ethics. He has been the head of two state agencies – the Virginia Department of Elections and the Virginia Conflict of Interest and Ethics Advisory Council – that provide the bulk of data that VPAP collects and analyzes.

He will report to VPAP’s bipartisan Board of Directors and lead its staff as the organization pursues its mission of elevating public understanding of Virginia politics by organizing and presenting information in ways that are easily accessible and free of partisan bias.

Chris said he looked forward to meeting with donors and other stakeholders to move VPAP forward. “I will do all I can to sustain VPAP’s fiercely non-partisan brand,” he said. “Together, we can build upon this indispensable institution that is trusted across the political spectrum.”

David Poole praised the VPAP Board of Directors for a well-run succession plan.

“I’ve worked with Chris for two decades,” Poole said. “I am confident in his ability and his passion for the work. He’s a natural fit for a leader to build on what we’ve started.”

Throughout his career, Chris has championed making government data more accessible to the public. He helped oversee the implementation of the current electronic filing systems that state agencies use to collect campaign finance reports and candidates’ personal financial disclosures. Under his leadership, VPAP will continue finding innovative ways to collect, match and code public data in ways that open a unique window into Virginia politics.

Something you won’t find on his resume: As a teenager, Chris followed bands like the Grateful Dead cross-country. But he put roots down in Richmond after attending Virginia Commonwealth University. Chris, his family, and their two rescue dogs live in the West End of Henrico. In his spare time, he is probably on a run. The avid long-distance runner, triathlete, and certified running coach has completed twelve marathons and a half-Ironman triathlon.

Bearing Drift wishes David well as he moves to the next chapter of his journey, and welcomes new executive director Chris Piper to the helm.

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