Virginia Capitol Connections Winter 2023

Virginia Capitol Connections, Winter 2023 15 George L. Barker Senator 2008-2024 BY DON HARRIS Should you be driving in the early morning hours in Richmond, especially during the annual session of the Virginia General Assembly, you are likely to see a red-headed figure running down the streets and that figure will be Senator George Barker. A lifelong runner, Senator Barker has taken that passion to Richmond both in terms of physical exercise as well as his commitment to be a leader in the Senate of Virginia. Most importantly, he has converted that passion into making a difference in the lives of all Virginians. Senator Barker was born in Illinois in 1951 but spent the majority of his “growing up” years in East Tennessee. After high school, he went to Harvard University, where he received his undergraduate degree with honors in Economics and Public Health, followed by a master’s degree in Health Policy and Management from Harvard’s School of Public Health and ran on the cross-country and track teams. He came to Northern Virginia in the 70’s for employment with the Health Systems Agency (HSA) of Northern Virginia, the statedesignated health planning agency for Northern Virginia. He, along with Dean Montgomery, oversaw the development of the first health plan for the region and served as an integral part of the state regulatory process under the Certificate of Need law. It was in this position that he and the agency sought to address skyrocketing healthcare costs, promote high-quality care, and ensure the broadest possible access to care for all the citizens of the community. He represented Virginia’s health planning agencies at the General Assembly and, later as a legislator, he was an outspoken and tireless advocate for Medicaid expansion in Virginia. George became involved in many governmental and civic organizations throughout Fairfax County and Northern Virginia, serving on many boards. After the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors created the Human Services Council in 1988, George served on the initial Board of Directors and was instrumental in helping with the foundational elements of the Council’s work plan, addressing human service priorities and advising the Board of Supervisors as they adopted the annual County budget. In addition to human services, George has also been involved in many other areas of civic life both as an interested citizen as well as an elected official. He served as chair of the Fairfax County Transportation Advisory Commission and vice chair of the Tysons Task Force working to improve transportation conditions and re-designing Tysons into an integrated urban area. Over the years George was a member and chair of several county, regional, and state organizations focusing on health care, human services, and transportation. Senator Barker and his wife Jane live in Clifton, Virginia, where they raised their two grown children, Erik and Emily, who now have brought them four grandchildren. In addition, George and Jane were foster parents to 13 children over the years. While his children were still in school, George served as president of the PTA at Robinson Secondary School and Mount Vernon High School. Meanwhile, he also found time to be a member of the Mount Vernon - Lee and South Fairfax Chambers of Commerce as well as president of his homeowners’ association. He is a member 226 Years of Legislative History Senator Howell Senator Saslaw Delegate Plum Senator Hanger Senator Newman Senator Norment