Special/Signature Issues » Top 40 Under 40

Will Egen, 35

Senior policy analyst, Virginia Commission on Youth


Will Egen’s dayjob is to help guide six House of Delegates members, three state senators, and three citizens who sit on an important 12-person body that steers Virginia’s legislative policies toward young people. Egen leads studies on youth-related topics, and his research has helped to inform legislation on issues ranging from mental health to juvenile justice.

“Right now, it’s foster care,” says the 35-year-old attorney. “This is something that really speaks to families and parents, so I’m happy that we’re taking it on.” Thanks in part to his advocacy, the commission has already adopted 19 recommendations to improve Virginia’s foster care system, and the assembly has passed several of these initiatives, including the formation of a state Kinship Guardianship Assistance Program.

The analyst job, which he assumed in 2014, requires research on a wide range of topics related to young people. “We did a large study on juvenile justice and one related to special education, particularly as kids advance from high school to adulthood. The topics change year to year but they are all related to youth policy.”

Egen has also been heavily involved in the Richmond Sister Cities Commission. In May, he will be representing our city as part of a delegation traveling to Olsztyn, Poland, a designated Sister City of Richmond. “When people came from the other cities to Richmond, it was truly inspiring,” he says. “So I’m excited to go. It’s building bridges in different ways.”

He will also become chairman of the Richmond Bar Association’s Young Lawyers division in June. “We boast over 400 members,” he says. “What’s great is all of the service projects we do, assisting the people in the community who need legal help but don’t know where to start, organizing trash pickups at cemeteries. It’s a way of giving back.”

Another way has been as a committee resource volunteer in the YMCA’s Model General Assembly, where he assists high school students in presenting mock bills. For his work, he was presented with a service to youth award by Governor Ralph Northam in 2019. A “huge fan” of local journalism, he also served as an inaugural board member of the Henrico Citizen advisory board last year.

Will and his wife, Ellen, met at the University of Mississippi School of Law. They have two girls, Wendy, 3, and infant Dana. “I love the job I do, helping young people, and I love raising these two young women. I see the eyes of the world through my daughters’ eyes.”