Constance “Connie” Birch moved to Staunton in 1975. She was always troubled by her lack of a career goal, but she was clear about what she wanted to do: make the world a better place for those less fortunate. She felt the best way to accomplish that in a democracy was to influence elected officials, which led to being active in politics. Connie was active in the anti-Vietnam war movement and worked in the potato fields with migrant farm workers. After two years as a volunteer in Appalachia with Mennonite Service serving at-risk students, she felt led to become a teacher. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Teaching at Mary Baldwin College at age 53, where her Appalachian experience earned college credit for serving in a “Third World Economy.” Connie has worked mostly in sales and teaching. She is active in Augusta Coalition for Peace and Justice, Virginia Organizing, Staunton Democrats, Staunton Church of the Brethren, and Bread for the World, as well as the Staunton Senior Center. She is married with three children.
Brenda Bruce grew up in North Carolina, and has lived in Virginia most of her life. She retired from teaching in 2005, spent three years as a personal caregiver, and now enjoys helping at the Staunton Senior Center as a member of its Local Council, a Meals on Wheels volunteer, and also enjoys teaching quilting and other fabric crafts at the SSC. She is married to Tim Bruce, and they enjoy traveling, reading mysteries, and taking care of their poodle-mix, Chrissy.
Tim Bruce grew up in North Carolina, and has lived mainly in Virginia since 1974. During his career, he worked in information technology. Since retirement, Tim has enjoyed volunteering with the Staunton Senior Center, where he serves as a member of the Local Council and a Meals on Wheels Volunteer. In 2011, he was named to the Valley Program for Aging Services Board of Directors. He lives with his wife, Brenda, and their dog Chrissy, in Staunton. He enjoys traveling, automobiles, reading, and computers.
Andrea Oakes has served on the Staunton City Council since 2008. A graduate of Sweet Briar College, she works as a field claims professional in the insurance business. Andrea serves as Chairwoman for CAPSAW (Community Action Partnership for Staunton, Augusta County, and Waynesboro). as liaison for the City to the Local Council, is a member of the Staunton Augusta Junior Women’s Club, the Citizen’s Police Academy Alumni Association, Staunton Kiwanis, and the Staunton NAACP Branch. In 2010, she was assigned by the Governor to the Virginia State Emergency Medical Service Advisory Board and is a past Staunton City School Board member. Andrea has three children: daughters Jaclyn, and Alexandria, and son Ryland, 9. Her husband, Kenneth, is the Director of Operations at the Best Buy Distribution Center in Staunton. The Oakes family attends St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Staunton. Andrea enjoys spending time with her family, baking with her kids, and collecting vintage dolls.
Michael Thompson is a native of Big Spring, Texas. He is a graduate of Howard College with an associates degree in accounting and earned a bachelor of fine arts in Humanities from St. Edwards University in Austin, Texas. Michael has lived in the Valley for 29 years, and has been employed by Dominion Lodging since 1998. In addition to his work as chair for SSC’s Local Council and Meals on wheels volunteer, he volunteers at the American Shakespeare Center. A little known fact: Michael won a disco dancing contest in 1977 – complete with platform shoes and bellbottom trousers.