Ghazala for Virginia

Meet Ghazala

Senator Ghazala Hashmi is the first Muslim and the first South Asian American to serve in the Virginia Senate. As an experienced educator and advocate of inclusive values and social justice, her legislative priorities include public education, voting rights and the preservation of democracy, reproductive freedom, gun violence prevention, the environment, housing, and affordable healthcare access.

As a four year old, Ghazala emigrated with her mother and older brother from India to the United States where they joined her father in Georgia just as he was completing his PhD in international relations and beginning his university teaching career. Ghazala grew up in that small college town, at a time when public schools were being desegregated, and so she saw firsthand how communities can be built and dialogue promoted through intentional efforts to bridge cultural, racial, and socioeconomic divides. After graduating as valedictorian of her high school class and receiving multiple full scholarships and fellowships, Ghazala earned a BA with honors from Georgia Southern University and her PhD in American literature from Emory University in Atlanta.

Ghazala Hashmi

Ghazala and her husband, Azhar, moved as newlyweds to the Richmond area in 1991, and she spent nearly 30 years as a professor, first teaching at the University of Richmond and then at Reynolds Community College. While at Reynolds, she also served as the Founding Director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL). She and Azhar have two adult daughters who both graduated from Chesterfield County Public Schools and the University of Virginia.

First elected to office in November 2019, Ghazala won an upset victory over a Republican incumbent, delivering the majority to Democrats for the first time in years and shocking the political establishment. In 2024, because of the confidence her Democratic colleagues have in her, she was named Chair of the Senate Education and Health Committee, a crucial leadership post for two critical Democratic priorities, reproductive freedom and public education.

As a state Senator, Ghazala has dedicated her efforts to improving the lives of others, focusing on issues of inequity in housing, education, health care, environmental justice, and much more.