Next week we'll publish our 25th anniversary Richmonder of the Year, a signature issue since 1985. For a special preview of the recipient, tune into NBC-12 on Monday, Jan. 4, at 4 p.m., when we'll reveal our selection.
We've also been asking readers to share their choices of who made a significant impact on the city in 2009. Here are two of those suggestions. To share your nominee, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
My nominee for Richmonder of the Year is Henry McLaughlin, executive director of Central Virginia Legal Aid Society, who is retiring from legal aid on March 31 after 29 years as executive director. While administering a legal aid society with a budget of $2.5 million, Mr. McLaughlin has almost single-handedly tackled the foreclosure crisis in Richmond, handling dozens of such cases.
When contacted by the homeowner prior to the foreclosure sale, he has yet to lose a house to foreclosure; and has saved the homeowner's house, or equity in the house, four times out of five. He also represents victims of domestic violence, sues their abusers, and for one victim recently won a jury verdict of $600,000 against her abuser.
At the age of 69, he usually works seven days a week — taking off one or two days per month — and when the overnight temperature is 35 degrees or lower, is at Central Virginia Legal Aid Society at 6 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays to open the doors for shelter for the homeless in the early morning hours. In 2009, not only was he chosen by Virginia Lawyers Weekly as one of the 28 “Leaders in the Law,” but also — in a secret ballot among the leaders — was voted as the “Leader of the Year.”
If dedication, commitment and superhuman hard work in a worthy cause are the criteria for making a significant impact upon the city of Richmond in 2009, no one is more deserving than Henry McLaughlin.
Senior Managing Attorney
Central Virginia Legal Aid Society
I think you should name Charlie “The Diamond” Diradour as Richmonder of the Year. He swore to keep baseball out of Shockoe Bottom and by God, he did it! He also tried to run against Rep. Eric Cantor. And he has something to do with the Flying Squirrels.