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Virginia First Lady to honor programs that build local communities

Rosalind Helderman

Virginia First Lady Maureen McDonnell began to flesh out areas that will be her policy focus for the four years her husband is governor today, announcing a program to recognize Virginians giving back to their communities in certain areas.

Dubbed the First Lady's Initiatives Team Effort, or FLITE, McDonnell said she would formally induct programs that have had particular impact on their communities into an "Opportunity Hall of Fame" in November. Programs recognized will be those that have had special impact in local communities in the areas of preventive health and wellness, economic development (particularly wine, film or tourism), military families or women.

McDonnell will launch a website to highlight successful programs and help Virginians interested in replicating them.

"These are all areas close to my heart. By reaching out into our communities to find individuals, groups, teams or organizations making an impact, we will begin to bring recognition and support to efforts in every corner of the Commonwealth," McDonnell said in a statement.

McDonnell hosted a luncheon at the governor's mansion this week with 80 women from around the state whom she had met while campaigning over the last year to unveil the initiative.

The First Lady role is one without a job description and different women have varied widely in how active and public they chose to make it. Anne Holton, wife of Gov. Tim Kaine and a former juvenile and domestic relations judge, for instance, made foster care reform her main focus.

McDonnell has already signaled she will be a vigorous advocate for her husband's agenda. Her FLITE program is all designed to promote a "Commonwealth of Opportunity," a theme of Gov. McDonnell's Inaugural address.

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By Rosalind Helderman  |  April 23, 2010; 3:16 PM ET
Categories:  Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman  | Tags: Anne Holton, Tim Kaine, Virginia  
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