Virginia’s first female, first Jewish Speaker: Eileen Filler-Corn

January 16, 2020

Other News

Eileen Filler-Corn on the cover of Virginia Business.

Diversity across the Commonwealth. Diversity in the House.

Eileen Filler-Corn’s historical new role as the Commonwealth of Virginia’s first woman and first Jewish Speaker of the House of Delegates is big news, locally, nationally, and even in Israel. Since November, Filler-Corn has been on the cover of Hadassah Magazine, Virginia Business, featured on NPR, in the Times of Israel, and in many other Virginia publications, including on the front page of the Virginian-Pilot.

On the Wednesday, January 8 opening session in Richmond, Filler-Corn’s swearing-in marked a number of firsts for women and minorities for the legislature’s 400-year history.

“It is meaningful that we represent groups that haven’t always been heard in the halls of power,” Filler-Corn said in her opening address to an enthusiastic crowd, according to a report by NPR.

The biggest cheers rose from the chamber when she announced the first item on the Democratic agenda. “This House will pass the Equal Rights Amendment,” she asserted.

Eileen Filler-Corn on the cover of Hadassah Magazine’s November/December 2019 issue.

In Virginia, ratifying the ERA has become a cause of women’s rights activists, and supporters thronged outside the statehouse to cheer on Democratic lawmakers and urge them to pass it.

Among the top issues for this session are universal background checks and other gun legislation, ratification of the ERA, setting redistricting policy ahead of the 2020 U.S. Census, and examining Virginia’s minimum wage and right to work laws.

“It’s exciting because we have the most diverse caucuses we’ve ever had, the most diverse body we’ve ever had. It’s about time that (legislators) actually reflect the Commonwealth and that we look like the Commonwealth. That means all kinds of diversity,” Eileen Filler-Corn, said in a Virginia Business magazine interview.

Filler-Corn, a mother of two grown children says she brings her Jewish values and experience to her office. The many volunteer positions she’s held in the Jewish community include serving as a board member of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington and on the board of her synagogue, Congregation Adat Reyim in Springfield, Va. Filler-Corn is a life member of Hadassah, and currently serves on the boards of the American Jewish Committee, the Jewish Foundation for Group Homes and the Virginia Israel Advisory Board.

One of Filler-Corn’s personal favorite achievements that came with her new position: giving an interview to an Israeli newspaper in Hebrew. Another first for Virginia’s Speaker.

- Lisa Richmon

Letter to the Editor