Born and raised in Charlottesville, Tom Perriello has a track record of results fighting corruption, expanding economic fairness, and promoting reconciliation in conflict zones and communities back home. He has been a teacher, a non-profit executive, a Congressman, and a diplomat. Tom is the youngest of four children of Linda and Vito Perriello. His parents and his parish taught him the ethic of service and the value of a purpose-driven life.
Tom began his career working on environmental issues, and later helped to create and lead faith-based organizations working to reduce poverty, advance racial reconciliation, and address climate change.
Moved by the terrible atrocities of Sierra Leone’s civil war, Tom moved to West Africa in 2001 to support courageous women and former child soldiers, demanding peace and accountability for the worst warlords. He then served as Special Advisor to the Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone that forced brutal Liberian dictator Charles Taylor to peacefully surrender power. Inspired by these advocates, Tom continued supporting peace negotiations and transitional justice efforts in conflict zones around the world, including work in the Balkans, Darfur, and Afghanistan.
Increasingly concerned with our own democracy back home, Tom launched a long-shot bid for Congress in 2008 and had the honor of serving Virginia’s Fifth District. Tom earned a rare A+ from the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America Action Fund for his tireless work on the Veterans Affairs Committee, including efforts to reform the VA and implement the new GI Bill.
Taking office during the worst economic crisis in modern history, Tom fought hard for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to prevent a depression and invest in hard-hit communities around Virginia.
He helped to leverage over $580 million dollars of public and private investments in broadband, education, clean energy, and small business development, much for communities too often left behind.
He served on the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, demanded tougher consumer protections and accountability from Wall Street, and successfully passed a $2,500 tuition tax credit that makes college and community college education more affordable.
He also supported and defended the Affordable Care Act, holding a record number of town hall meetings across Central and Southside Virginia.
After losing reelection, Tom chose to keep fighting for struggling families. As CEO of Center for American Progress (CAP) Action Fund and Counselor for Policy at CAP, Perriello championed solutions on inequality, voting rights, immigration reform, sensible gun safety, women’s rights, and family leave. He fought for “middle out” economic policies in Virginia and around the country, understanding that growth comes from the purchasing power of the middle class, not a few trickles from the top.
In 2014, Tom was asked to lead the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR), an executive review of State Department and USAID operations that encompass 80,000 employees and over $50 billion in annual expenditures. Tom’s work culminated in “Enduring Leadership in a Dynamic World,” a document that set out plans to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of civilian operations and modernize use of data, diagnostics, and design.
It emphasized the increasing strategic importance of inclusive, job-rich economic growth, climate change, and corruption to understanding how countries operate and impact our national security. These reforms have advanced family-friendly leave policies, investment in training, and flexible teleworking programs for civil and foreign service professionals.
In July 2015, the Obama Administration appointed Tom as Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region of Africa, where he worked to prevent mass atrocities and supported the emergence of peaceful, democratic societies. Working in strong support of Congo’s Catholic bishops, Tom’s diplomatic efforts helped to produce an historic New Year’s Eve agreement on December 31, 2016, that lays out a path to the first peaceful transition of power since the country’s independence in 1960. This transition should turn the page on decades of fighting that has resulted in the deaths of more than five million civilians in the Congo.
Tom has taught courses on transitional justice at the University of Virginia School of Law and University of Sierra Leone, and is a graduate of Yale University and Yale Law School.