UVA launches ‘BeHeardCVA’ to gauge community opinion on key issues

university of virginia uvaUVA is launching the state’s first regional community survey panel, called BeHeardCVA, as a vehicle for communicating the voices of residents in the Charlottesville area and Central Virginia.

Tom Guterbock, director of the UVA Center for Survey Research, said that BeHeardCVA will consist of individuals who agree to be part of an ongoing pool of potential survey participants maintained by the center. It is open to all adult residents of Charlottesville and the counties of Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa and Nelson.

“We believe that BeHeardCVA will help policymakers, non-profits, researchers and community organizations to efficiently hear citizen opinions and respond to address needs,” he said.

Cooper Center staff have been meeting with nonprofits and other community organizations recently to develop BeHeardCVA. Cristine Nardi, executive director of the Center for Nonprofit Excellence, said, “CNE appreciates the Cooper Center’s commitment to co-creating BeHeardCVA with input from local agencies and community members so that it can become a powerful citizen engagement tool for the region.”

“As part of his commitment to strengthen the relationship between UVA and its surrounding communities, UVA President Jim Ryan provided support and encouragement for an initial stage of the panel’s creation,” Larry Terry, executive director of the Weldon Cooper Center, said. “Since it is clear that President Ryan is dedicated to action in response to the recommendations of the UVA-Community Working Group, BeHeardCVA is well-positioned to help that effort as well as efforts of countless other organizations serving citizens across our region.”

To assist in recruiting members to BeHeardCVA, Jane Foy, a veteran Charlottesville and Pittsburgh broadcaster, is joining the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service as a team leader and community outreach liaison for the initiative. Foy was producer and co-host of the “WINA Morning News” in Charlottesville from 1998 to 2018. “For years, Jane used her morning radio show to help community leaders speak to a broad area audience,” Guterbock said. “Now, Jane will help members of the public to make their views known to those leaders by taking surveys from BeHeardCVA.”

Participants will be recruited by mail, by phone and by in-person teams working throughout the region in the coming weeks, encouraging area residents to “join and be heard.” The first in-person chance to sign up for the panel will be at the Greene Beer Festival on Saturday from 1 to 6 p.m. in Stanardsville. Online signup for the panel is available at beheardcva.org.

The BeHeardCVA team also will make presentations to area organizations with an interest in hearing from people in the region or in having a custom-designed survey. Those with an interest in a presentation should contact Guterbock or Foy.

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