So Long, Farewell
Nostalgia. Gratitude. And a tinge of bittersweet sorrow. It is the only way to describe the complex storm of emotions I currently hold onto.
At the end of the month, I will bid farewell to the organization that has been my home, my sanctuary, and source of inspiration since 2019. After an amazing three years filled with meaningful work and incredible people, I will be departing from a remarkable, award-winning team.
From my first day at Cardinal, I knew I had found a calling—a place where my passion and commitment to West Virginia could be nurtured and amplified. Together, we embarked on countless initiatives, fueled by an unwavering commitment to improving the lives of every West Virginian.
As I begin a new chapter in my life, I leave with a heavy heart but also with a sense of pride in what we have accomplished, together:
School Choice Reform
Our unwavering dedication to educational equity and student empowerment led us to champion school choice in West Virginia. This effort has provided a state that has historically seen tragic educational results with new opportunities through charter schools and education savings accounts.
We celebrate as 3,000 kids—just this year—will each have access to more than $4,000 to achieve their own, individualized version of success.
Through careful analysis and collaboration with experts across the nation, we were able to see historic tax cuts in 2023. These tax cuts are saving taxpayers over $700 million in the first year alone.
Certificate of Need Repeal
In our pursuit of high quality, accessible health care for all West Virginians, we took a critical stance on the outdated, ill-performing certificate of need laws. Through six months of meticulous research, coalition building, and persistent advocacy, we successfully watched as policymakers eliminated certificate of need barriers for birthing centers and hospitals. This repeal will pave the way for increased competition, innovation, and access.
Criminal Justice and Occupational Licensing Reform
Recognizing the urgent need for reform and rehabilitation, we’re set to soon release our first policy brief, in collaboration with researcher, Darwyyn Deyo, on the tragic effects of occupational licensing. The brief will focus on the inability for formerly incarcerated West Virginians to return to work and gain economic mobility.
Building the West Virginia Miracle Together
The impact we have had on West Virginia’s public policy landscape is tangible. Our advocacy and collaborative efforts have positively shaped our state’s governance and outcomes. I am confident that the seeds we have sown will continue to bear fruit.
To the communities we serve, the individuals whose stories have touched my heart, and the citizens of West Virginia who have placed their trust in us—thank you for giving me the opportunity to make a difference. Your resilience, strength, and unwavering Mountaineer spirit have been the driving force behind every step we took.
More importantly, this is not a goodbye but a heartfelt thank you—a thank you for the memories, the lessons, the triumphs, and the transformative experiences. My time at the Cardinal Institute has been a privilege, an honor, and an unforgettable journey. Together, we have challenged the status quo, fostered change, and ignited Hope in the heart of a countless number of West Virginia’s kids.
As I welcome new horizons, I carry with me the unconquerable spirit of West Virginia, the grit and determination of our people, and the change that I know is possible.
These have been some of the most extraordinary, memorable years of my life.
Jessica Dobrinsky Harris is a Policy Analyst for the Cardinal Institute for West Virginia Policy.