Among the historic “firsts” in the current Virginia General Assembly—first female Speaker of the House, the first African American lieutenant governor, the first female majority leader, to name a few—is the first African American woman serving in the key role of legislative and policy director.
Mason alumna Gerica Goodman, BS Psychology ’12, MPA ’15, took advantage of Mason’s opportunities and flexibility by exploring different majors, sampling careers via internships, and working part time as a student and later full time as a graduate in the offices of Admissions and Alumni Relations to reach her historic position.
She landed in Richmond when her interests circled back to what brought her to Mason in the first place: “I realized my original intention when I started at Mason was government,” she says from her office near the one occupied by her boss, Speaker of the House Eileen Filler-Corn.
The master’s degree from Mason’s Schar School of Policy and Government comes in handy—daily, in fact, she says.
“One of my favorite classes was Program Evaluation,” she says, adding that it was taught by an adjunct who was also “a bureaucrat’s bureaucrat,” a senior analyst with the U.S. Government Accountability Office. “The class looked at government programs and took them apart and evaluated them, which is essentially what I do for bills and government agencies.”
As policy director, Goodman collaborates with the Speaker and the chief of staff, among others in the statehouse, and offers opinions and recommendations on the brief legislative session’s rapid cascade of proposed bills—1,800 of them this past winter—as they wend their ways through committees. And she loves it.
“I’m kind of a boring person who likes the legal print on the back of anything, and I like legal jargon,” she says. “Reading bills seems like a daunting process, but I always find something really interesting.”
“Like, we had a bill about milk, about not calling anything that’s not derived from a dairy cow ‘milk.’ I find stuff like that super interesting.”