Richard Walker, Founder and CEO

Richard Walker is a formerly incarcerated individual committed to providing a bridge to marginalized communities, assisting them in overcoming barriers. As founder and CEO, Richard established Bridging The Gap In Virginia in 2009 as a beacon of hope for individuals returning from incarceration that they may overcome barriers that prevent them from living a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive quality of life. Richard has challenged legislators to correct the wrongs that this Commonwealth has used against its people for their political and financial gain. Richard wholeheartedly believes that the Virginia legislative narrative in regard to Criminal Justice, Prison Reform, and Environmental Justice must change.

Mary Finley-Brook, PhD

Dr. Mary Finley-Brook has taught Geography, Environmental Studies, and Global Studies at the University of Richmond since 2006. At the University of Richmond, Finley-Brook has overseen more than thirty semester-long renewable energy internships. During classwork, internships, and guided research, her students engage in experiential learning and community-based projects addressing sustainable development, energy efficiency and conservation, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and renewable energy. Finley-Brook is a member of University of Richmond’s Sustainability and Environmental Awareness Committee. She was a founding member of the Governor’s Advisory Council of Environmental Justice (October 2017- January 2019) and is on the steering committee of the Virginia Environmental Justice Collaborative. In addition to serving on a Department of Energy “Expanding the Solar Workforce” review panel, Finley-Brook has reviewed grant proposals for the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Science Foundation. Finley-Brook wrote Empowering Energy Justice to identify paths toward social and racial equity in energy transition.

Duane Cunningham, Instructor

Duane completed our solar installation training in 2021 and subsequently passed the NABCEP PV Associate exam. He is a network engineer by trade and applies his knowledge of networking to his work with solar. He now leads our classes on solar installation training and continues to work in a voluntary capacity with a variety of other organizations focused on educating youth.

Academic Partnerships

There are a growing number of Virginia students seeking grassroots training in criminal justice and environmental justice. Over recent years Bridging the Gap in Virginia has come to fill a gap for hands-on training.  We appreciate contributions from past interns from the University of Richmond, William and Mary, Virginia Commonwealth University, and Marymount College. Contact us if you would like to intern or volunteer with our organization.

We enjoy mutually beneficial academic partnerships. For example, since 2018, Dr. Mary Finley-Brook from the Department of Geography, Sustainability and Environment at the University of Richmond has provided technical support to BTGVa. BTGVa staff co-mentor student research and civic fellowships tied to topics such as green workforce development, environmental justice, energy transition, and community solar. Contact us for more information about past collaborations and ways to connect your college or university.