Human Rights Commission


In 2016, RVA Council passed an ordinance to establish a Human Rights Task Force to determine if a Human Rights Commission was needed in RVA and, if so, what would they do. The task force missed the 6/5/2017 deadline to submit a final report. In July, two forums were hosted to receive public input. From September 5th-September 21st, a Survey Monkey is open to garner additional public input. 

Below you can find a history of the ordinance, task force, and the survey questions. 


  • Ordinance: ORD:2016-254
  • Patrons: Council Members Robertson and Agelasto
  • Purpose: "To establish a Task Force on the Establishment of a Human Rights Commission to evaluate the need for and scope of a Human Rights Commission and to provide the Council with recommendations concerning any necessity to create such a commission."
  • Legislation History
    • Introduced and referred: 9/26/2016
    • Recommended for approval by Education and Human Services Standing Committee: 10/13/2016
    • Adopted: 11/14/2016


  • Obligation: On or before 6/5/2017, submit to the council's corganizational development standing committee a report with advice and recommendations regarding: 
    • Existence/Frequency of suspected violations of Virginia Human Rights Act
    • Appropriate mechanisms to address human rights issues
    • Need to create a human rights commission along with scope/duties
    • Identify education opportunities
    • Identify impediments to transparency of human rights investigations
    • Methods to keep council informed on advancements in human rights
  • Membership: 5 members, 2 term limit, 3 year terms
  • Current Members (their applications can be found on pages 42-52)
    • Kathryn Harnsberger (term 2/13/2017-6/5/2017)
    • Rodney Lofton (term 7/25/2017-7/25/2099)
    • Josie Mace (term 2/13/2017-6/5/2017)
    • Leah Page (resigned; term 2/13/2017-7/24/2017)
    • Riqia Taylor (term 2/13/2017-6/5/2017)
  • Meeting History
    • March 16, 2017- 3 task force members present (James Parrish, Josie Mace, Riqia Taylor), committee assigned research localities of HRC operating models to include Newport News, Charlottesville, Fairfax, Arlington, and out of state examples
    • March 29, 2017- 3 task force members present (Riqia Taylor, Josie Mace, Kathryn Harnsberger), presentation of research
    • April 6, 2017- 3 task force members present (Riqia Taylor, Leah Page, James Parrish), reviewed H.O.M.E.'s study of housing discrimination against same-sex couples, discussed and identified issues in RVA
    • April 20, 2017- 4 task force members present (Riqia Taylor, James Parrish, Josie Mace, and Kathryn Harnsberger), draft ordinances presented, discussed goals of task force, discussed types of HRCs
    • May 4, 2017- No members present, no meeting held
    • May 15, 2017- 3 members present (Riqia Taylor, Leah Page, Josie Mace), reviewed proposed organizational structure, review ordinance draft, assigned items needed for report
    • June 2, 2017- 3 members present (Riqia Taylor, James Parrish, Josie Mace), discussed report due on 6/5/2017, decided to make a request on 6/5/2017 to extend the final report time and send out a survey, decided timeline would be to make survey available 6/7 to be open the month of July with evaluation in August and a final report presented by September, identified 7/10/2017 as date for public forum
  • Public Forums were held on July 25th and July 26th
  • Survey opened on September 5th


  • Do you think Richmond, Virginia should create a Human Rights Commission?
  • If you feel Richmond should create a Human Rights Commission, which of the following should be the role of the Commission?
    • Investigatory, Resource Broker, Education Based, pre-filing agency for EEOC, printed brochure/website
  • In the past 5 years, have you experienced discrimination in employment, housing access, or public accommodation in Richmond, VA?
  • If yes, which of the following do you believe was the reason you experienced discrimination in employment?
    • Age, disability, gender identify, national origin, race/color, religion, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, pregnancy/childbirth, marital status
  • While not currently protected classes under the Virginia Human Rights Act, in the past 5 years have you experienced discrimination in employment. housing, or public accommodation in Richmond, Virginia based on any of the following: Criminal Record, Gender Identity, Citizenship/Immigration Status/Sexual Orientation, Status as a Veteran
  • If you have experienced discrimination, are you aware of the agency to file a complaint of discrimination? 
  • Demographic questions including race, gender, marital status, income, education, employment