DAYTON — After a job interview in May, Angela Lawrence went for a hike, one of her favorite activities, before heading back to Chase City to continue her work as a town manager.
That interview was successful, and Lawrence began in her new position as the town superintendent of Dayton on Monday.
Lawrence, 56, grew up in Lenexa, Kansas, but was born in Battle Creek, Michigan.
“I was raised to be involved in the community,” she said.
Lawrence has over 25 years of experience in civil service, elected positions and nonprofit work.
While in college, she worked for the town of Lenexa, including putting together special events and parks.
“I got a good taste of local government on several levels,” she said. “That’s where I started understanding community service and providing for citizens.”
When she first came to Virginia in 1989, Lawrence worked on greenway and trail projects as a grants administrator in Ashland. Previously, she graduated from Kansas State University in 1983 with a degree in recreation program management and from the University of Texas at Arlington in 1989 with a master of business administration with a concentration in public institution management.
The choice to move to Virginia was based on the quality of life in the state, Lawrence said.
“Virginia — you’re so close to the mountains, the ocean, Washington, D.C.,” she said. “There’s so many things to do.”
Lawrence went on to be on the town’s planning commission in 1996 and was elected to council in 2000 and to be mayor in 2002.
In 2010, she moved back to Kansas, as one her sons wanted to attend Kansas State, and in 2016, she returned to Virginia, specifically to Chase City.
Lawrence remembers coming to Dayton when her two children were young, but can’t place exactly when.
“I know I was here when my kids were little,” she said, specifically recalling she had been to the Dayton Market.
Lawrence took over from Joe Paxton, who served as the interim town superintendent.
“He spent a lot of time with me in the past month, going over things, including me on emails, helping me out,” she said.
Paxton even texted her on Monday to check in on how things were going on her first day, Lawrence said.
“Everything is par for the course,” she said. “It’s just learning the particulars of the locality.”
Over the past months, Dayton has also welcomed a new police chief, Justin Trout, and new treasurer, Timothy Arrington.
“There’s a lot of transition to take place behind the scenes,” she said. “But I also want to reach out to all the business owners and community groups and important assets here.”
“Really, I just want to help maintain the quality of life that’s here,” Lawrence said.