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Hanover County appoints two new school board members

People pose for a photo during a Board of Supervisor meeting
Lyndon German
VPM News
From left: Beaverdam District Supervisor Robert Monolo stands with new school board appointee William "Greg" Coleman, Henry District Supervisor Sean Davis and new appointee Whitney Welsh on Wednesday, May 24, 2023.

The candidates will fill open seats for the Beaverdam and Henry Districts starting in July.

Hanover’s Board of Supervisors appointed two new members to the school board Wednesday night after receiving 12 nominations during their meeting in April.

The board unanimously followed the recommendations of Beaverdam District Supervisor J. Robert Monolo and Henry District Supervisor Sean Davis in appointing Greg Coleman and Whitney Welsh, respectively.

Unlike most localities in Virginia, Hanover remains one of the few jurisdictions in which the local governing body appoints members to the school board. School Board members serve four-year terms and are reappointed on a staggered basis.

Coleman was one of eight candidates nominated for the Beaverdam District seat. A U.S. Air Force veteran, Coleman is an account manager and sales representative for Alcon, a medical equipment manufacturing company. He and his wife have three children in the Hanover school system.

“Service before self has been ingrained in me from an early age,” Coleman said to the board.

In a statement, Monolo said he felt Coleman’s firsthand experience as a parent and life experience as leader will benefit the school board's decision-making.

“While I had several outstanding candidates, after interviewing them all I nominated Greg because he is a strong Christian with leadership experience and he has kids in Hanover schools, giving him firsthand knowledge of the issues faced by parents of school children,” Monolo said. “I felt he would do the best job advocating for parents and children in our schools.”

Coleman replaces longtime 28-year school board veteran and acting Chairperson John Axselle III, who announced his retirement in April. The end of his tenure is marked by controversy in regards to his alleged violation of a state privacy law in 2022 in addition to allegedly making insensitive comments to members of the community.

Coleman said he recognizes the role he’s set to fill looms large, but he hopes to make an impact where he can.

“I truly mean it when I say I’m here to serve. I’m here to listen, and I want to make the best of what we can in this community,” Coleman said. “Give me time to observe, and I think you’ll see how we can really protect this community.”

Welsh — appointee for the Henry District — is a retired business owner who has two teenagers at Hanover High School and two younger children at Rural Point Elementary School. She’s also a graduate of Atlee High.

“I’m humbled and excited by this opportunity,” Welsh said in a statement.

Welsh was one of four candidates for the Henry seat. She replaces George Sutton, who was no longer eligible for the seat after the county’s district lines were redrawn in 2022.

Davis said he’s thankful to all the candidates who stepped up and expressed their desire to serve, but ultimately selected Welsh for her leadership abilities and desire to work with parents, students and school personnel.

As a near lifelong resident of Hanover, Welsh says she hopes to bring a new perspective to the board's decision-making as one of two women appointed to the seven-member board.

“I think there’s been a lot of distractions in the public schools, and we need to get back to educating and supporting our students, and our educators,” said Welsh.

Both appointees are expected to begin in July. Axselle and Sutton’s terms come to an end on June 30.

Lyndon German covers Henrico and Hanover counties for VPM News.