Highlighting Henrico’s Lesser-Known History

Note from the Editor: In honor of Black History Month, we wanted to highlight a way our employees have created to raise awareness and educate others about the lesser-known history of Henrico County, including our rich Black History. We encourage everyone to learn and recognize the enormous cultural contributions and civil rights achievements of African Americans. You can visit your local library to peruse a Black History Month-themed display in February and find related reading and research material year-round at HCPL in print and online. You may also join in with Recreation & Parks’ Black History Month programming across the county, and it’s all free!

Henrico County is well-known for its history. Whether it’s the founding of the County in 1611 or its numerous battlefields from the American Civil War, Henrico’s history is all around us. Unfortunately, the history of Henrico County’s previously underrepresented communities may not be as well-known. The Recreation & Parks Division of History, Heritage & Natural Resources is working to change that daily. During the COVID-19 shutdown of 2020, the History team sought a new way to connect with audiences who needed an outlet from the daily news of positive COVID cases. The solution was to create a Henrico History Progress newsletter along with a history Facebook page to safely engage the public from the comforts of their own homes.

The Facebook page began by posting information about Henrico County’s history. Dates, anniversaries, and commemorative events were highlighted when those dates arose each year. But as simple a format as Facebook can be, it spurned into some complex research and deep diving into amazing topics. For example, a post about the R.F.& P. Park in Glen Allen and how it came to be, became a newsletter article and a YouTube video about the history of the R.F.& P. railroad, which grew into more information about the Pullman Porters who worked the trains! Our history team also understands that history can be a weighty topic at times, so the newsletters also contain a bit of levity for readers of all ages. 

The Down on the Farm entry tells stories from the point of view of the animals from Meadow Farm. There have been entries from the cows, pigs, turkeys, and, of course, the sheep! They are as much spectators of history as we are.

Over the past three years, the history team has released seven newsletter editions. Still, one thing remains the same through them: the team remains committed to sharing the facts (and sometimes gossip) of lesser-known Henrico History. The team has recently been working very closely with the community of Bungalow City to record oral histories and scan photos and documents. Where is Bungalow City, you ask? Bungalow City is a tight-knit community of Eastern Henrico off Nine Mile Road. It was created as an alternative to the racially exclusive Highland Springs, and stories of great strength and resilience come out of this small community. 

Famed Civil Rights photographer Louis H. Draper grew up in this small community. His work features celebrities like James Baldwin, Langston Hughes, Malcolm X, and Jackie Kennedy. Still, his passion was showing everyday people in everyday moments. The team’s work with Bungalow City will be featured in an upcoming newsletter and translated into historical markers and access to archival content about the neighborhood.  

The newsletter and the Facebook page have been great resources to inform and engage the public in the History team’s programming. Whether it is lectures, children’s programs, scavenger hunts, tours, or history-focused presentations, our history team has something for everyone. Also, the team is always looking for more subject matter to cover. At times, topics arise naturally, but often they are brought to the forefront by a need from the community or their respective board members.

In addition to our programs and historic signage program, henrico.us/history/landmarks/, the County owns and operates six National Register Properties and four landmarks of early 20th-century history. Some are easily accessed or have regular visiting hours, while others are open by appointment. To inquire about a tour, please email REC-History@henrico.us.

 With support from leadership, coworkers, and peers, the work of the History Division is possible. We invite everyone to participate in our programs, tour our properties, and engage with us in the virtual world by following us on Facebook and signing up for our digital newsletter. Access past editions at henrico.us/rec/history/.


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Henrico’s New Capability Model: The Leading the Organization Capability

The constantly accelerating changes in the workplace have demanded we find innovative ways to get work done. Henrico County has answered the call by developing the Capability Model to help our employees meet this challenge. You can learn more about the capabilities on our resource page or by viewing our Henrico Capability Model videos.

To provide more explanation about the capabilities, the County Connection features a series of articles, each focusing on a specific capability. This article is about Leading the Organization.

Effective organizational leadership is critical to ensuring the County meets our increasingly diverse community’s current and future needs. It can be accomplished at every level by examining current practices and considering how the methods can be improved to accommodate increased and changing service demands. 

The capability model describes Leading the Organization in four ways:

Organizational Awareness: Understands the components and culture of the organization and predicts how events and situations will affect individuals or groups within it.

Innovation: Implements creative ideas and processes to add value to the organization.

Agility: Quickly adapts to changes impacting the County in ways that benefit organizational goals and objectives.

Cultural Awareness: Recognizes, understands, and appreciates similarities and differences among various cultural groups.

Here are some examples of ways to effectively lead the organization:

  • Reviewing the “State of the County” address to learn more about the organization’s goals and priorities
  • Discussing the organization’s mission and leadership philosophy as a team and identifying specific goals you want to achieve on your work team, division, or department; Communicating the plans you come up with to everyone affected.
  • Placing the welfare of others and the organization over your interests
  • Making decisions based on the organization’s goals and priorities- When making decisions regarding work issues, ask yourself, “What’s best for the organization?”
  • Asking for and being open to ideas from colleagues and customers regarding changes to services and working with your team to implement those changes
  • Finding ways to streamline current processes to get work done more efficiently
  • Staying open, alert, and up to date on events that could impact the organization and/or your work team (such as the COVID pandemic) and working with your colleagues to develop innovative ways to provide services and get work done.
  • Participating in strategic planning meetings with your team to clarify future goals and priorities and develop an action plan to meet those goals
  • Communicating upcoming changes as much and as often as possible to help your team through the change
  • Proactively educating yourself on diverse cultures through:
  • Attending classes on diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • Interacting with fellow employees and/or County residents to learn more about their cultures
  • Watching DEI videos on the OLTD YouTube channeland reviewing cultural resources on the DEI Resource page 
  • Getting involved in events that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion

Skilled organizational leadership inspires people to use their talents to fulfill the organization’s mission and goals through encouraging ideas, problem-solving, and innovation; promoting inclusion; overcoming setbacks; and creating an environment where everyone can grow. 

To find more examples of the Leading the Organization capability, view these videos on our OLTD YouTube channel:

How To Be an Agile Leader

Dealing with Change and Transitions

Managing Workplace Change

How to Lead Your Team Through Change

Vision to Performance: The Work of Leadership

Who We Are: Leadership Lessons from COVID-19 video series

Voices of the Heart video series


For more information on the Capabilities, view our Henrico Capability Model videos on our OLTD YouTube page or visit our resource page

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County Shelter Procedures: What to Do If You Are on The Road in an Emergency

Knowing what to do and where to go during an emergency is one of the basics of emergency preparedness. This is usually straightforward in an office setting, and knowing your evacuation routes, assembly areas, and sheltering locations is a great start. But what if your job involves fieldwork and you spend some or most of your day driving from one place to the next?  

Fires, other man-made disasters, natural disasters, and severe weather are all very real possibilities in Henrico County. Severe weather of some type is almost guaranteed during certain times of the year. However, planning for such emergencies can be difficult, especially for employees who work in the field. 

In this case, communication is vital. 

Always speak with your supervisor to ensure you know and understand emergency notification procedures. For groups using vehicles or handheld radios, that is usually the best and fastest way to communicate emergency information to an entire group. Also, for employees who don’t carry a radio but use a work mobile phone, group messaging can notify larger groups of employees at one time. Either way, make sure you know the procedures in your group.

Once the emergency information is sent out, what’s next? In some situations, the emergency may be restricted to a particular part of the county. For example, a tornado watch may be in effect for the entire county, but often a tornado warning (when a tornado is either physically seen or shows up on radar) might be only for a portion of the county. Employees working in Varina don’t usually need to shelter for a tornado warning in Short Pump. In these situations, listening to local news broadcasts can sometimes give specific information on the affected area. Summer thunderstorms often affect more extensive parts of the county. For mobile employees with outdoor duties, it’s usually best to seek shelter in your vehicle until you get an idea of the storm’s extent and direction. For supervisors, it’s sometimes best to bring these groups back to the shop or their central location for a while.  

What about a significant event – like a tornado – that often gives little to no warning and can bring devastating damage? The first priority would be finding a nearby sturdy building where you can shelter in a basement or on the ground floor, away from doors and windows. Unfortunately, finding an appropriate location during an emergency can be difficult or near impossible. 

Below are recommendations from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

  • If you are outdoors, find safe shelter right away.
  • If you can safely get to a sturdy building, do so immediately.
  • Do not get under an overpass or bridge. You’re safe in a low, flat location.
  • Watch out for flying debris that can cause injury or death.
  • Use your arms to protect your head and neck.

If no building is available, there is no single recommendation for how to protect yourself best. However, new research shows that larger, more stable vehicles can often be an acceptable “last resort” during weather emergencies. If you must shelter in your vehicle, always keep your seatbelt fastened, avoid bridges and overpasses, and protect your head and neck. 

If no vehicle is available, find a low-lying area like a ditch (as long as there is no flooding expected), lay down on your stomach, and cover your head and neck with your arms and hands. If one is available, protect yourself with a heavy jacket, blanket, or other similar items.

Because there are numerous county facilities, you may be near one and not even know it. Take the time to familiarize yourself with the location of fire stations, libraries, and county offices. While there is no formal procedure for seeking shelter in a county facility, in an actual emergency, you may need to. Regardless of the location, make sure not to block emergency vehicles or disrupt essential services.  

As with any safety issue, communication is vital. Before going out for the day, ensure you’re familiar with your group’s communication methods. Keep your eyes open for potential shelter locations where you frequently work. And if you are forced to shelter, let a supervisor know as soon as it is safe to do so.   

If you’re looking for additional information on severe weather and sheltering, check out FEMA.gov, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, or the National Weather Service websites.

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BE THE BEAT & ROCK YOUR RED to support American Heart Month 2023

February is American Heart Month, and there are many ways for you to Go Red and help raise awareness for heart health. Friday, February 3 is National Wear Red Day, and you can BE THE BEAT by wearing red, sharing at least one healthy habit you’re prioritizing – it could be sleep, stress management, physical activity, nutrition, or whatever works best for you – and encourage others to do the same. Together we can help others we know to reduce their risk for cardiovascular disease by building healthy habits.

Get your work squad together, rally your team, and GO RED together:

  • Wear Red! Encourage your office team to wear their favorite red outfits on Friday, February 3 – National Wear Red Day.
  • Make an office playlist. Share a song that gets you moving or helps to manage stress.
  • Get up and move throughout the day. A simple stretch break or a workout class at the office will help reduce stress and is a great way to bond as a team.
  • Hold a healthy eating challenge. Challenge your office to commit to healthy eating during American Heart Month.
  • Share how you are supporting your cardiovascular health this month. Listen to what others are doing. Please encourage them to keep going and celebrate the wins!
  • Learn more about cardiac arrest, stroke, and CPR.

Let us know how what healthy habit you are prioritizing. If you aren’t sure where to begin on your better health journey, reach out to the Division of Fitness and Wellness and consider health coaching or fitness classes.

Employee Health Services (EHS) also offers blood pressure checks, blood sugar checks, and counseling for diabetes, high blood pressure, and cholesterol management. Call 804-501-1600 to schedule an appointment or for more information.

Show us your red! Please email any photos of you and your teams wearing your red to Christy Nealey for a chance to be featured on social media or in the next County Connection!

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2022 Paper W-2 Opt-out – A better way to get your W-2!

If you would like to make the election for the electronic 2022 Form W-2, please log into Oracle (Employee Direct Access) to make this update. This means you will NOT receive a paper copy by mail. 

There are many advantages to receiving your W-2 electronically.  Receiving an electronic W-2 form is:

  • Safe. Electronic W-2s reduce the risk of identity theft associated with mailed W-2 forms, which include the employee’s name, address, and social security number.
  • Fast. Electronic W-2 documents will be available before mailed forms. Employees will be notified by email when their W-2 is available to view and print. Those that do not make the election will have W-2 papers mailed at the end of January.
  • Accessible. Your W-2 statement will remain in Oracle and can be accessed and printed whenever you need it (for all active employees).
  • Green. It saves trees by not requiring paper W-2 forms to be enveloped, stamped, and mailed.


How do you sign-up to receive your W-2 Form electronically?  Log in to Oracle, then select Employee Direct Access, then Salary Related, then Employee W-2.


Did you go electronic last year?

No action is needed! Your consent will remain in effect until you choose to withdraw your consent or terminate your employment.

Thank you in advance for participating in this option. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact the Payroll Section.

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State of the County: A Summary of 2022

Last month County Manager, John Vithoulkas, hosted a breakfast to present the “State of the County” address to area business leaders. The event began with Anthony Romanello and the Economic Development Authority recognizing legacy businesses in Henrico that have been around for fifty years or more. The County Manager then took the stage to begin his speech highlighting the county’s accomplishments in 2022, including voter approval of a $511 million bond referendum, $51 million in tax relief for residents, significant development and redevelopment projects, and the establishment of the Henrico Sports & Entertainment Authority to attract more sports tourism and entertainment to the county. We asked a few employees to share their thoughts on the speech:


What were your thoughts on the State of the County information shared?

“I was surprised by the extensive efforts within the county to seek ways to grow and not remain stagnant. My surprise was not because I would expect anything less of Henrico, but rather the many ways the county seeks to improve the lives of the citizens by really listening. I live in a different county, and I wish they were as receptive and willing to put in the work for their citizens as Henrico is.” – Michelle Richards, Sheriff’s Office

“I thought it was an excellent strategic move to open the State of the County address for Henrico County with businesses that have been here for 25+ and 50+ years. That set the stage for the County Manager’s speech, followed by outlining the highest approval rate of 87% from County residents for the recent bond referendum since the bond referendums started in 1953. That catches your attention! The citizens of Henrico County clearly believe the County Manager is listening to their needs and delivering well-thought-out plans throughout the county. The single slide that showed more than 20+ projects starting throughout the county because of the 2022 bond referendum approval was impressive. One page provided visual confirmation that funds approved by County residents are being distributed throughout the entire county, not just one or two of the districts.” – Michele Greep, Division of Fire

“Information shared included the new era of learning in education at the ACE Centers. Students, families, and employers collaborate in education to prepare students for the future. Public, private investment, and County collaboration in business, parks, and many other projects.” – Abiodun Solanke, Juvenile Detention


How do you see this impacting the employees of Henrico?

“In the short-term, it is, of course, more work and responsibility to meet these goals we have set out. But in the long-term, it will create an even better community to be a part of- more enjoyable and providing a sense of pride.” – Michelle Richards, Sheriff’s Office

“The County Manager has a vision that wholistically supports the county and its citizens. He is listening to the citizens of Henrico County, and his building blocks are safety, education, emergency response, medical support, senior citizens support, first-ever public 24/7 detox center, mental health services, tax relief, sports & entertainment center, growth, transportation, clean environment, and the list keeps growing.” – Michele Greep, Division of Fire

“Low tax rates – rebate for surplus tax revenue for the County residents. Tax relief/ credit for seniors. Improvements in [the Maggie Lena Walker Apartments] and public housing communities in Henrico. Means and opportunities of how County employees can be part of the county’s future. Increasing revenue and growth in quality of life – for instance, roads in new development/projects to ease how we move around in the county. Public transportation, Gayton roads network, and bicycle lanes in the county.” – Abiodun Solanke, Juvenile Detention


What are you excited about?

“Personal bias here: the rehabilitation center that has been proposed. Henrico is not alone in its struggles with the opioid crisis and working for the Sheriff’s Office has given me a first-hand look at the sheer volume of citizens battling it. I am excited to have alternatives to jail/incarceration and provide more help for recovery. Also, the educational opportunities. As a big supporter of continued learning, I’m thrilled that the county is investing in not only advanced educational opportunities for children but also adults within the county.” – Michelle Richards, Sheriff’s Office

“Various investments in the future of Henrico range from school, park, public safety, flood prevention, and drainage projects. $511 million bond referendum approved by citizens. Quick action to resolve issues in the county, for instance, the contamination incident that could potentially impact private wells. Environmental efforts and standards – solar panels installation in schools, eliminate single-use plastic bags.” – Abiodun Solanke, Juvenile Detention


Is there one thing in particular that stood out to you?

“One item that really stuck out to me was the moment of silence to pay respect to HPD Trey Sutton killed in the line of duty. The totality of the County Manager’s vision for Henrico County is clear that the people come first.” – Michele Greep, Division of Fire

“Henrico County Manager John Vithoulkas recognizes the role listening plays in leadership. Many people, especially in management, make Henrico County machine run. Also, the recognition of the Henrico County Board of Supervisors and a moment for Officer Sutton’s passing. Rising violence in the community and efforts to address/curb this situation, starting with the youth summit. Trust of the community in terms of community partnership in the education field and other areas in the county.” – Abiodun Solanke, Juvenile Detention


What do you think employees who did not attend the breakfast should know?

“County leaders are listening and doing much more for the county than what may be known. It’s easy to get tunnel vision for our own departments and agencies, but there’s so much more going on all around the county.” – Michelle Richards, Sheriff’s Office

“Employees that missed his speech should absolutely listen to it when they have a moment. It is packed full of information about our future!” – Michele Greep, Division of Fire

“It is an opportunity to meet major stakeholders in the county and be apprised of what is going on and future policies and goals in the county. Recognition of businesses or companies who have been doing business with the county for over 50 / 50+ business legacies. Establishment of the Henrico Sports & Entertainment Authority.” – Abiodun Solanke, Juvenile Detention



Anything else you would like to add?

‘I’m proud to work for Henrico, and I’m hopeful to see how we progress with these new ventures.” – Michelle Richards, Sheriff’s Office

“The County Manager really knocked the speech out of the park!” – Michele Greep, Division of Fire

“Opportunities to listen and watch the State of the County are available online. I would love for the County administration to provide more opportunities through ballots extended to non-supervisors from different departments to attend the State of the County address in person. This allows for the broad participation of County employees in person. I doubt if many county employees have heard about Henriconext, and the Detox Center for addiction services.” – Abiodun Solanke, Juvenile Detention


As the County Manager said at the beginning of his speech, “Local government is an active exercise. It requires perpetual motion, constant listening, and always, always, always assessing and reassessing what we are doing.” These are our responsibilities as employees of the County. They keep us in sync with the needs of the residents of Henrico County and help us make the County a better place to live, work, and be. The successes listed in the address are our successes and would not be possible without a dedicated and diligent workforce. In the words of the County Manager, “We’ve got a long way to go, but we have prepared and equipped for the journey. I invite you to join us.”

You can view the whole speech on the Henrico County Government YouTube Channel.

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Henrico’s New Capability Model: The Leading Others Capability

The many recent changes in the workplace have sparked a reimagining of how we accomplish work and demanded flexibility in responding to situations in the moment. Henrico County supports our employees in meeting these progressive challenges by providing the Capability Model. You can learn more about the capabilities on the resource page on the employee website.

To help you gain more in-depth knowledge of these capabilities, the County Connection features a series of articles, each focusing on a specific capability. This article focuses on “Leading Others.”

When we think of leadership, leading others instinctively comes to mind for many of us. But, whether we’re formal or informal leaders, the organization excels when we bring out the best in the people around us. 

The capability model describes Leading Others in four ways:

Relationship Management: Maintain ongoing rapport with customers and colleagues to forge effective relationships across the organization.

Well-Being (Whole Health): Builds and supports a work culture that enhances social, emotional, physical, mental, and purpose-related wellness.

Collaboration: Shares ideas, knowledge, and experience with others and works together to accomplish organizational goals.

Value & Develop Others: Motivates, empowers and supports others to accomplish team and organizational goals.

Here are some ways you can enhance your skills in the “Leading Others” capability:

  • Develop self-awareness. Identify your strengths and weaknesses and be mindful of how you come across to others at work. You can grow your leadership skills in this area by joining one of Henrico County’s leadership programs (Leadership Henrico (LH) for supervisors or Emerging Leaders Certification Program (ELCP) for non-supervisors). You can learn more about self- and social awareness in this video on Emotional Intelligence. Please pay attention to others’ communication styles and adjust your style and behavior when needed to communicate more effectively with them and be better understood. For more on Communication Styles, see this video.
  • When collaborating on a team, invite and be open to the ideas and opinions of all team members. Discuss and consider diverse viewpoints to make sure you are making the best decisions possible.
  • Willingly share information and your expertise with coworkers to set them and the organization up for success. 
    • For example, consider a “reverse mentoring” relationship with a coworker where you help each other improve in your respective areas of expertise. (Ex: you help the coworker strengthen their technology skills, and they help you master a process.)
  • When leading teams or supervising others:
    • Empower employees by encouraging decision-making and utilizing new and innovative methods of getting work done. 
    • Provide frequent, specific feedback, both positive and constructive, to help your team members grow and succeed. For tips on giving effective feedback, view our Delivering Feedback Effectively: SBI Method video on our OLTD YouTube channel
  • Encourage your teammates’ professional growth and development by encouraging them to join LH or ELCP.
  • Proactively take measures to manage your personal well-being and stress levels to be your best self. 
  • When leading teams or supervising others, support them in managing their well-being. Encourage them to take care of themselves and remind them of the wellness leave available to help them recharge and stay healthy. Employees can take advantage of the County’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) if they are experiencing any personal difficulties that might affect their well-being. 

Leading others effectively strengthens relationships and leads to more engaged employees and improvements in communication, teamwork, productivity, customer service, and innovation, to name just a few benefits. 

To find more examples of the Leading Others capability, view our video series on our YouTube channel in these categories:

For more information on the Capability Model, view our Henrico Capability Model videos on our OLTD YouTube page or visit our resource page on the employee website.

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Christmas Mother Reflections

Eighty years ago, a local teacher went above and beyond for her students and community which started a tradition that is now known as the Henrico Christmas Mother. In October, the County Manager, John Vithoulkas, kicked off our annual fundraising campaign by asking the coordinators to make this the best year yet. County employees came together and found creative ways to collect donations and raise funds for those in need.

This year’s events included:

James River Juvenile Detention Center Fish/Chicken Fry & Car Wash

Permit Center Bake Sale

Planning Office Bake Sale

Finance Department Cookie Celebration

Human Resources Photo Booth

Henrico Sheriff’s Office “Pie the Chief”

Finance Revenue Division Taco Tuesday

Circuit Court Clerk’s Office Sweets Sale & Silent Auction

Between the events and department collection drives, County Employees far exceeded  last years’ virtual campaign contributions in almost every category.







New Books












Miscellaneous items








Maria Bagley had the honor of being this year’s Christmas Mother and was excited to be able to attend many of the events hosted by the County. On one occasion she met a woman who had previously been helped by the Christmas Mother Program. Shari Bennett Speer, an employee in the Organizational Learning and Talent Development Division of Human Resources recalled that event:

[We held a photo booth event and it was my job to call people over. I saw someone in a Santa hat and said “You need to have your photo taken with us – it’s to raise money for the Christmas Mother and you look so festive!”

She said, “I AM the Christmas Mother, and I’ll be happy to.”

Later, a woman walked past and politely declined my invitation to join us, saying she never gets pictures of herself — her family doesn’t even have any.

But she stood there and didn’t move, just looking at our prop table with a small smile on her face.

“Are you sure?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said. “But you know what? I’d like to donate.”

And then she told us that a couple of years back she was between jobs and struggling, and the Christmas Mother helped her when she needed it most. “I’d like to donate and help make a difference for someone else in need.”

A hush fell over us. THIS was why we were doing this. I told her “this is the actual Christmas Mother herself!” and they joyfully hugged.

20 minutes later she came back. “You know what? I WILL get a photo taken after all. This will be a gift for MY mother” – and as she posed in reindeer ears holding a sign saying “naughty or nice?” our smiles couldn’t have been bigger.


We couldn’t have been so successful this year without the generosity and hard work of Program coordinators and County Employees. In their presentation to the Board of Supervisors, The County Government Christmas Mother Chairs Tanya Brackett and Rebecca Slough also gave special mention to Jamie Massey and his team members: Renae Douglas, Marjorie Sykes, Jerome Nicholson, Nour Ramadan, Neal Jackson, and Medat William for their assistance in making sure all our donations were received in time at the Christmas Mother warehouse for distributions.

Many employees also volunteered at the warehouse as families shopped for gifts and received food donations. An average of 15 families were helped every 15 minutes during the week the distribution center had its doors open. After every family was served the the distribution center was closed, all the leftover food items were then donated back to Henrico County Public Schools for area students.

Together we showed compassion and kindness to our community, embodied the characteristics of the capability model and the Henrico Way, and made it the best year yet for the Henrico Christmas Mother.

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Best Practices for Creating an Inclusive Workplace During the Holiday Season

December is rich with diverse traditions, holidays, heritages, and religious observances celebrated in various cultures across the U.S. and abroad. The county has a diverse workforce, and we each bring unique backgrounds, lived experiences, and cultures that influence how we celebrate and connect with others. As we prepare for the holiday season, it is crucial to create an inclusive and welcoming atmosphere for all employees to foster respect and belonging in the workplace. Below are best practices to create an inclusive workplace to support all employees during the holiday season and throughout the calendar year:  


  1. Invite feedback and input from all employees. To identify ways to be inclusive when hosting events throughout the year, ask employees from various backgrounds, identities, cultures, and who hold different religious beliefs for feedback on how they wish to celebrate the holidays. Allow teams to guide the planning and encourage employees to think inclusively about essential details such as holiday decorations, food, activities, and music selections to ensure that no one feels excluded and that events are culturally appropriate for the workplace.   


  1. Make participation in holiday functions optional. The holiday season can be stressful for employees who are not religious or hold religious beliefs that fall outside of traditional holidays observed in the United States. Some employees may not celebrate anything at all. In addition, employees who have experienced loss may find it challenging to navigate the holidays or participate in activities that remind them of loved ones. To model inclusion for all employees, make participation in workplace holiday functions optional so that employees do not feel obligated to partake if they choose not to. Consider scheduling functions during times of the year that do not overlap with specific holidays or cause scheduling conflicts for team members. 


  1. Acknowledge and show appreciation for different cultures and beliefs.Encourage your team members to share how they celebrate the holiday seasons, especially those whose cultural backgrounds may differ from yours. Be open and curious to learn by inviting questions about their native cuisines, traditions, and customs to expand your knowledge and learn something new. 


  1. Explore different cultures, traditions, and religions. The world is diverse and filled with opportunities to learn about other cultures, practices, and holiday celebrations. Encourage employees to research holidays that differ from their own or participate in community events to gain a deeper understanding of the rich cultures and communities in Henrico County and the Richmond region. For Henrico County employees, you can start your inclusion journey by exploring the county’s DEI resource page or the Multicultural Community Engagement page for year-round community events and celebrations.  


This year, we are highlighting the following holidays in December:

  • Las Posadas: December 16 – 24
  • Hanukkah (Chanukah): December 18-26
  • Kwanzaa: December 26-January 1

A complete list of December 2022 Holidays, Celebrations, Heritages, and Observances can be found on the DEI Resource Page.


  1. Be open and flexible. The holiday season can be a challenging time for employees to navigate, especially as we close out year-end responsibilities and plan for time away from the office. Extend grace to your team members during the holiday season, and be open to differing thoughts, perspectives, and feedback about whatever may be coming up for them. Be open and listen to understand how you can create a positive experience where employees feel included, valued, and heard.  


If you have ideas for inclusive ways that Henrico can highlight different holidays and cultures, please contact our DEI Division at 501-4425 or HR-DEI@henrico.us.

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Henrico’s New Capability Model: The Leading Self Capability

The rapid transformation of today’s workplace is bringing many exciting changes and new opportunities. To support our employees in developing the agility and skills needed to respond to changing demands and provide new services, Henrico County has introduced the Capability Model. You can learn more about the capabilities on our resource page.

To provide insight into each of the seven individual capabilities within the model, the County Connection features a series of articles, each of which focuses on one of the capabilities. This article focuses on the capability of Leading Self.

Leadership at all levels is a core component of the county’s Henrico Way philosophy. Whether you are a formal or informal leader, leading yourself first is critical to successfully interacting with and leading others.

The capability model describes Leading Self in four ways:

Decisiveness: Makes timely and effective decisions to accomplish team and organizational goals.

Functional Expertise: Has the knowledge, skills, and abilities in job function or area of expertise.

Personal Accountability: Takes responsibility and personal ownership for actions and decisions.

Critical Thinking: Objectively analyzes and evaluates information to solve problems and make informed decisions.

Here are some examples of how you can effectively build self-leadership skills:

  • Effectively planning and organizing your time and work. Learning time management skills and using resources like planners, calendars, and apps to help you stay on track and meet deadlines.
  • Taking responsibility for your own professional development. Examples include taking classes or joining one of the County leadership programs (Emerging Leaders Certification Program for non-supervisors or Leadership Henrico for supervisors).
  • Learning as much as possible about your job or industry through research, job shadowing, classes, reading trade publications, etc.
  • Volunteering to take on tasks within your workplace that might be outside of your comfort zone to become more competent.
  • Taking personal ownership when you’ve made a mistake and proactively looking for ways to learn from it. Asking yourself and/or others, “What could I have done differently?” or “How should I approach this next time?”
  • Looking at a situation from different perspectives before making a decision. This might involve gathering information and/or asking for the views of others, such as those the decision would impact. It might also include considering the impact on other priorities or the organization.
  • Making quick, firm decisions in critical situations when time is of the essence. If this type of decision-making is difficult for you, seek the guidelines around typical steps involved in decision-making. You might also set a deadline for yourself to make a final decision. Once it’s made, assess the outcome to identify what went well and what could be done differently next time.

Becoming skilled in the Leading Self capability enhances your productivity, performance, and work relationships and better equips you to achieve your professional goals.


To find more examples of the Leading Self capability, view our “Time Management: Prioritize What’s Important” video and “Upskilling: How to Take Charge of Your Professional Development” video  on our OLTD YouTube page.

For more information on the Capabilities, view our Henrico Capability Model videos on our OLTD YouTube page or visit our resource page.

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