About the chair

ANA EDWARDS is chair of the Sacred Ground Historical Reclamation Project, a 2004 initiative of the Defenders for Freedom, Justice and Equality, a Richmond, Virginia based social justice organization which grounds its work in the principle of the right of oppressed peoples to self-determination. The group worked for 8 years to help reclaim Richmond’s African Burial Ground, and is currently engaged in the community struggle to preserve and memorialize historic Shockoe Bottom through the establishment of a nine acre memorial park and educational campus.

From 2005-2013, Edwards produced and hosted DefendersLIVE, a local news/talk radio program on WRIR 97.3 LP FM, and since 2005, been a founding member of the editorial board of The Virginia Defender, a quarterly community newspaper, along with her husband, founding editor and publisher Phil Wilayto.

Ana was 2009-2017 president of the Virginia Friends of Mali, an education and cultural engagement organization, which coordinated the establishment of a sister city relationship between Richmond and S├ęgou, Mali and continues to organize projects between the two cities. She serves on the Richmond Sister Cities commission.

For 6 years Ana managed a weekly farmers market as a nutrition education program an early childhood education center with its origins in neighborhood-centered social services. Before that she was communications director for Homeward, Richmond’s coordinating agency for homeless services.

Edwards sat on the Future of Richmond’s Past Planning Committee (2011-2015) which produced and coordinated programming to commemorate the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War and Emancipation. She served on the Planning Committee of the East Marshall Street Well Project, established by the VCU Office of the President in 2013 to help determine the best way to study, memorialize and rebury the human remains found in an early 19th century well during construction of the VCU Hermes Kontos Medical Building in 1994.

Born in Los Angeles, California in 1960, Ana holds a BA in Visual Arts (1978) from Cal-Poly Pomona (CA, 1978), studied at Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University (NJ, 1984-1986), and is currently pursuing a Master's degree in History at Virginia Commonwealth University. She has two wonderful sons and a warrior husband.