Staff & Leadership

Community Coordinator
Christy Ellis

Christy is experienced in non-profit work and brings communication skills as well as volunteer and event management to the team. She has a sincere desire to help others and believes in making each day amazing. Her Circles focus is outward, coordinating support for the Circles model.

Circles Coach
Helen Rai

Helen is a social worker with extensive ties to VCU and the RVA community. She is focused inwardly, supporting and developing our Leaders, Allies and volunteers.

Outreach Coordinator
Quawneisha “Bre” Peoples

Bre has an authentic desire to connect with people and her positive outlook is contagious. As Outreach Coordinator, Bre builds relationships within Richmond communities to develop future Circle Leaders.

Contract Facilitators

Leader Training
Patrice Shelton

Patrice Shelton is the founder and Executive Director of Hillside Court Partnership, Certified Community Health Worker Senior for Virginia Department of Health/Richmond City Health Department, Hillside Court Resident/Tenant Council President, and the Vice President for Richmond Tenant Organization (RTO). She has launched more than 14 groups and teams in Hillside. She has help the community members to know their worth and rights one at a time. She graduated from Louisa County High School June 1991. Ms. Shelton worked at Walmart from 1992 to 2008 in Management and Billing. She moved to Hillside Court 2010 where she does her community work today. Ms. Shelton was able to get her community rezoned to the Bellemeade/Oak Grove Elementary School thru City Council meetings. She has partnered with Shalom Farms and Feed More to bring food to the community for free and low cost since 2012. Patrice has supported her youth in the community to start a Community Garden. She is seated on Maggie L. Walker Poverty Board, RVA Thrives, Central VA Legal Aid Society (CVLAS) Board Secretary, and Central VA Legal Aid Society Client Council (CVLASCC) President and a member of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. She was also a fellow for RMHF 3/2018 to 2/2019.

Ally Training
Courtney Calixte, M.S.W.

Movement and Capacity Building Director at the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance.  Her focus is on social justice movement work and capacity building through a trauma informed and healing centered framework.  She likes to help agencies brainstorm creative ways to engage communities (especially under served populations) with the outcome of building stronger relationships that create a resilient community for survivors.  She has her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work from Virginia Commonwealth University.  She also has a post graduate certificate in Gender Violence Intervention.

Ally Training
Paige Tucker

With over 18 years in education, Paige possesses a genuine passion and eagerness to teach others. A true lifelong learner herself, she recognizes the importance of growth alongside the joy of constant improvement.

Board of Directors

Circles RVA operates with a minimal staffing level and has no Executive Director.  The Board functions as a working board with several members performing many of the administrative functions to ensure smooth and efficient operations for Circles RVA.

Valena A. Dixon (Co-President)

An award-winning communications and public administration executive who has created and led innovative and unprecedented campaigns and programs for diverse industries and organizations in the areas of education, cable television, affordable housing,  community development and economic and employment opportunities

Malcolm E. (Dick) Ritsch Jr. (Co-President)

Dick Ritsch was Co-President of Circles RVA, Inc. for 2019 and 2020 and is Co-President for 2021 and serves as the organization’s lawyer. He has been committed to community outreach for over 20 years through his service as Chair of Outreach at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. Four years ago, Dick and other founders concluded that building enduring direct personal relationships across economic, social and racial lines would be a cost- effective way to reduce poverty in the Richmond community. Dick’s experience as a business lawyer for start-up organizations has been put to use with Circles RVA. He has been an Ally for almost two years and will sign up again when his first Ally term is completed later this year.

Richard Crom (Treasurer)

Retired, Internal Revenue Service

Stephen Batsche

Executive Director of Program Services, Salvation Army of Central Virginia

Rev. Remmie Chew, Jr.

Retired, Richmond Public Library

DarShee’ Clarke

Graduated Circles RVA Leader

Shanteny Jackson

Graduated Circles RVA Leader,
Richmond City Health District

Wayne King Johnson

Owner, Coldwell Banker Avenues

Dawn S. McNamara

Richmond Community Hospital

Rev. Bollin M. Millner Jr.

Retired Rector, Grace and Holy Trinity Church

Joy Thomas

Graduated Leader, Cirlces RVA
Wells Fargo

Stephanie Watkins

Imami Christian Ministries