If you live in King George County, you may have met her at a town hall meeting or perhaps read her name in the news. She’s become a well-known personality in her community through her service as the Dahlgren District Supervisor on the King George County Board of Supervisors. Her personality shines as much as her namesake. Her name is Ruby Brabo, and she is happy to share with all that her experience at Rappahannock Community College has helped pave the way for her meteoric rise to prominence.
Brabo is a champion of her county — a place she’s called home since 2006. She is quick to say that King George County is a really special and diverse place.
“We have the Dahlgren Naval Base and the history here with James Madison’s birthplace [Bell Grove Plantation],” says Brabo. “We also rank 17th out of 95 counties in Virginia for vegetable production. We have an industrial park, and a lot of retail development, and also a lot of farmland as well. We have quite a mix here.”
Brabo began her service on the King George board in 2012, just two years after she earned her Associate of Art and Sciences degree from RCC.
“I decided that I wanted to obtain a degree before my oldest daughter graduated high school,” laughs Brabo. She had some college credit from just after high school, but was having a hard time getting those credits to be accepted by four-year schools. She shifted gears and noticed that RCC was very close by and offered her a chance to earn an associates degree and eventually transfer to a four-year institution later.
“I took the majority of classes at King George High School,” says Brabo. “I did have to go down to the Warsaw Campus for a couple of the classes, like Dr. Newtzie’s speech class. I never thought that I would have run for political office, because standing up and speaking in front of people was the furthest thing that I ever wanted to do. [Dr. Newtzie’s] class really helped me.”
While attending classes, Brabo served as her homeowner association’s president. After working with the county government to successfully finish an infrastructure project in her neighborhood, she found that she enjoyed that type of work and her friends and collogues encouraged her to run for office.
“I really did not think I would win,” remembers Brabo. “I thought, I will just put my name in the hat and if I win, I win! I did have an opponent, and I received 80% of the vote. ”
While on the board, she realized that a few issues are very close to her heart — education and managing economic growth. These two related principles guide many of her decisions and her love of working for the residents of King George through the governmental process is still as strong now as it was back in 2012.
“I enjoy serving the citizens,” says Brabo. “I have learned a lot, not only about our county, but about our state. Every day is a new day. There is always something different.”
Something different includes serving as a representative at the local, state and federal level for a variety of posts, including appointments by Governor Terry McAuliffe.
“The Chesapeake Executive Council is made up of the governors of the states that comprise the Chesapeake Bay watershed agreement, which include Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and now New York and West Virginia,” says Brabo. “I now serve by the governor’s appointment on the local government advisory committee. I certainly never anticipated being appointed by the governor to serve on anything!”
While she enjoys her role within the local government, she hopes to expand her role by representing King George as a whole, not just the Dahlgren area. This up-coming election in November, Brabo is seeking the at-large seat.
Brabo will not say how long she wants to continue working as an elected official, and says she is not sure what might happen in the future. Right now, she is focused on King George.
“But that doesn’t mean 10 years from now you won’t see me running for a different office,” says Brabo. “It just depends on what happens and where life takes me.”
One place she hopes life will take her is to the finish line of her bachelor’s degree, which she is currently working on through American Public University. Her hope is that she can complete her B.A. before her younger daughter graduates high school.
When reflecting on her current push to graduate, Brabo feels that RCC was what got her back into the mindset for school and classwork. After going many years between high school and sustained college-level work, she needed a little push here and there in order to stay on course.
“The teachers were wonderful and very accommodating,” says Brabo. “They also recognize that you have a little bit of fear inside of us … going back and sitting inside a classroom with kids that are the same age as our own children. But it was good to be in a class with those younger kids. I got to hear their views on life today, and I am very glad that I made that decision.”
It’s been quite a journey for Ruby Brabo, one with unexpected twists and turns. She’s made the most of her opportunities but is humble and is quick to give credit to friends, family and others who have helped her along the way.
“I don’t think of myself as anyone other than Ruby the King George resident, mother, wife,” says Brabo. “I am just an average citizen like everybody else.”