On December 31, 2016, Levar Stoney became Richmond's eightieth mayor. During a heated campaign leading up to his election, Tianni Ivey, '18, was there.

"A lot of what I did was data management and fundraising research with the finance team,” Ivey said. "Towards the latter half of my time with the campaign, I started doing more field work and canvasing, talking to voters about Levar and asking about their concerns in Richmond, whether it be services, or transportation, or schools."

Ivey most enjoyed her time in the field, as she recognized the importance of listening to and understanding the many voices in a community.

"It’s important to know who you’re working with and who you’re working for," Ivey said. "If you’re in the business of working in government, making policies that impact hundreds of thousands or millions of people, that perspective is so important."

Ivey first became excited about supporting Stoney’s candidacy after attending the VA21 Summer Leadership Institute with grant funding from the Bonner Center for Civic Engagement (CCE). VA21 engages young people in the political process by providing information, directing advocacy, and coordinating political action on a nonpartisan platform that includes higher education, economic development, and good government.

"I was drawn to Levar because of his understanding of the inequity in education and how education impacts many of the other issues that we see in the city," Ivey said.

Ivey was no stranger to education in the region. In her first two years at the University of Richmond, the CCE connected her to mentoring opportunities at the Youth Life Foundation of Richmond and Higher Achievement at Henderson Middle School. She then participated in Spring Break in Richmond: Education, a CCE program that introduced her to the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, where she later served as an intern.

"Starting off as a freshmen and sophomore, those key experiences helped shape what I’m now doing," Ivey said.

Last summer, Ivey was an intern with U.S. Senator Mark Warner’s office, and this spring, she worked with Senator Janet Howell through the Virginia General Assembly Internship Program. She also serves as the chair of the Student Conduct Council on campus and is the director of recruitment for Phi Alpha Delta.

These experiences and the opportunity to be a part of the Stoney campaign, to be exposed to different districts across Richmond, have enabled Ivey to bring deeper perspectives to her classroom conversations.

"My internship gave me a reference point in class discussions and the ability to bring national issues to a local level,” Ivey said. "I’ve also been able to share with other students the many opportunities for local involvement."

Ivey’s next step is an internship with PwC's Government, Regulatory Affairs & Public Policy team in Washington, D.C.

"I like to think that our government and policy are in place for the people . . . that the people we elect are going to do what’s best for the people that voted for them," Ivey said. "That accountability really motivates me."