Welcome to 2021. Never did any of us think that 2020 would bring about so much change in our lives. During change, magistrates continued to display high levels of dedication, knowledge, and strength. Thank you for your continued service to the Commonwealth of Virginia. Through rain, sleet, snow, pandemics, birthdays, graduations, headaches, all hours of the night and morning, magistrates were, are and will be here and on duty.

As I continue as the VMA’s president, the board and I will increase VMA’s visibility and membership, show magistrates appreciation for all their work and efforts, educate the public about magistrates, advocate for the issues important to members and magistrates, and promote transparency throughout the system.

The 2020-2021 membership year was an exciting one for the VMA and its members. Membership grew and flourished. We went from 85 members to 119 and counting. The 2020 Code Book Index was published. The VMA welcomed and swore in a 1st and 2nd vice president and three new Regional Representatives. There is a revamped VMA website, and three published newsletters. Region IV obtained 100% membership in early 2021, and the VMA’s virtual store was opened and conducted business, https://www.vamagistrate.org/shop. We were busy.

Please take some time to review the VMA’s programs and opportunities on our website at www.vamagistrate.com. The Magistrate Spotlight program awards a nominated magistrate with a $50.00 gift card for exemplary service. The nomination should detail how the magistrate has improved their office, performed his/her duties well, shown the magistrate system dedication and loyalty, and any other details that provides motivation and inspiration to others in our career. The nomination is available on the VMA’s website at https://www.vamagistrate.org/virginia-magistrate-spotlight. Another VMA program, the MCE Tuition Reimbursement Scholarship, provides members the opportunity for reimbursement for MCE credits or ICM classes. Details regarding the VMA MCE scholarship are under the members page at www.vamagistrate.org. Members are eligible to receive a 2020 Virginia Code Book Index at a discounted price. Visit the members only page at www.vamagistrate.org for an order form.

The VMA will voice issues of concern and needs between those in the field and management at the Department of Magistrate Services and the Office of the Executive Secretary. In December, Director Green participated in VMA’s Q&A session. We hope that this event will be an annual opportunity. Collaboration and transparency with management is important to attaining magistrates’ goals. We maintain the organization’s independence and want to collaborate with DMS and OES when the opportunities arise and are right for all.

We as magistrates are members of communities. This year we will re-focus on participating in community service opportunities.

We encourage members and magistrates who are interested in service to join the VMA’s Executive Board and/or VMA committees. There are many opportunities! We welcome all those who want to participate in “aiding, assisting and representing members concerning issues pertaining to the Virginia Magistrate system”. Diversity in all respects is essential to effectively represent the magistrates throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Thank you all and I am ready to be of service.

Avnel A. Coates

VMA President