Alumni Spotlight: Tori Feyrer, '18

Tori Feyrer

Tori spent a lot of her undergraduate time honing her passion for social justice and policy and often finding herself volunteering her time with Virginia Home, and serving as a Governor's Fellow in the McAuliffe Administration. Tori used her undergraduate experiences and life long passions to get herself to where she is now, working as a Policy Advisor to the Secretary of Education - Office of the Governor, Ralph S. Northam.

What inspired you to pursue your career in state government?

Throughout my time at the University of Richmond, I developed two corresponding mission statements which guide the way I make career decisions, form relationships, steward my finances, and spend time “off the clock.” In state government, I hope to serve as an advocate for people-first programs and policies that honor the dignity of every individual, promote human flourishing, and create a more equitable society. This informs my ultimate goal in life, which is to bring hope to the hopeless. Ultimately, I desire to see communities form which allow every member of society to flourish spiritually, relationally, mentally, and physically. I want to be part of creating systems and instituting policies which allow each person to achieve their full potential and become more fully human, and believe that state government is a great arena to make that kind of systemic change.

What community engagement work did you do as a UR student?

My first year as a UR Bonner Scholar I was placed at Virginia Home, a residential facility for adults with irreversible disabilities, and I continued volunteering there until I graduated in 2018. The residents of the Virginia Home gave me more than I could have ever given them, and shifted the way I think about service and community engagement. I also had the opportunity to intern for a nonprofit in San Diego after my freshman year, a human trafficking prevention nonprofit after my sophomore year, and for a Virginia Senator during my junior year. Before my final year at Richmond, I had the privilege of serving as a Governor's Fellow in the McAuliffe Administration. All of these experiences held a common thread—they taught me that the only way to truly understand issues is to get to know the people they affect, and fight for the solutions those people believe in. Empowerment and change begins with listening and learning from those who have experienced oppression, so I aspire to be a leader who is constituent oriented and deeply rooted in the community. This process requires humility, and when effective, changes priorities, shifts power structures, and redirects investments.

What advice would you give to UR students pursuing this field?

First of all, I would encourage students who are passionate about policymaking to give state or local government a chance. During the past four years, I have seen how state and local government is a great arena to start changing many of the systemic issues we are facing as a nation. It seems that Congress is in a constant state of policy gridlock and partisan battles, but in Virginia, we can get stuff done. Though former President Trump issued an Executive Order in 2020 prohibiting schools from reckoning with our nation’s racist past, in Virginia we were still able to examine the way African American history is taught in our classrooms, change Standards of Learning which were incorrect or incomplete, and equip educators to teach difficult content in a culturally responsive manner.

I'd also encourage UR students to intern and volunteer with local representatives, attend lectures and community talks which bring state and local experts to campus, build relationships with professors, and start getting to know people in the Virginia policy community. If I hadn't done these things, I wouldn't be where I am today. A good place to start is sending emails to individuals who have jobs you find interesting. I have never turned down a conversation with a college student, and love helping passionate people find good opportunities to get involved in the political process.