HAMPTON, Va. (March 10, 2020) – The William R. Harvey Leadership Institute held another Meet the Leaders Lecture Series with guest speaker Councilmember Aaron Rouse. Councilmember Rouse is a Virginia native and is a strong advocate for today’s youth and the military.
“We were proud to welcome Mr. Aaron Rouse to the William R. Harvey Leadership Institute to speak to our students about his experience as not only an athlete, but in his role as Councilmember, At Large. Mr. Rouse’s perseverance on and off the field showed our students what it takes for a true leader to succeed,” said Hampton University President, Dr. William R. Harvey.
Councilmember Rouse was born and raised in Virginia Beach. He attended First Colonial High School and graduated with a bachelor's degree in sociology from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Rouse was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the 2007 NFL Draft and also played for the New York Giants and Arizona Cardinals. After retiring from the National Football League, Rouse returned home to Virginia Beach to begin his career in public service. He served as a coach and a mentor before founding Rouse's House. Rouse's House is a nonprofit organization that serves to establish education as the foundation for today's youth, with a primary goal of exposing youth and families in the community to a broader world of learning.
“I used football as my avenue to walk into Delegate’s offices and Senator’s offices to learn what they know so that I could return home to Virginia, use that knowledge and influence to make changes,” said Rouse. “When I started to campaign for Virginia Beach, they had only ever had four African Americans ever elected, but when I said, ‘Okay listen, I want to run for office.’ They said, ‘You want to run for office, you need to get on a couple of boards, a couple of commissions, then in about 5 or 6 years, you can run for office.’ I said, ‘What? No way!’ They didn’t see how for three years, I traveled from Hampton Roads to Richmond, learning, networking, and not taking no for an answer.”
On November 6, 2018, Rouse was elected to Council as an at large member. Rouse is a strong advocate for the support of first responders and the military along with their families. He is passionate about the potential growth of Virginia Beach into a strong economic, travel and entertainment location with support to residents and tourists. Rouse is a lifetime member of the National Football League Players Association, an active member of his church and a member of North End Run Club. He serves as the City Council liaison to the Minority Business Council and the Transportation District Commission of Hampton Roads (HRT).
“Councilmember Rouse provided the Leadership Fellows vignettes on resilience that will stay with them and undoubtedly they will share with their peers. He continued to stress the importance of his faith, and how everything was falling around him, after the car accident. His so called friends stopped calling, because he was no longer in the NFL, but he maintained his faith, and never wavered throughout all of his trials and tribulations. He is a role model and outstanding citizen, who is only scratching the surface in his political career and I expect him to leave a legacy as a public servant and leader for the betterment of the Commonwealth of Virginia,” said Dr. Jarris Louis Taylor, Jr., Director, William R. Harvey Leadership Institute.
Councilmember Rouse also gave the Harvey Fellows some good advice about being a leader. “My mother and grandfather always taught me to speak up for yourself. Be bold. Be a leader. Because you don’t know who you can rely on,” Rouse said. “When you come face to face with responsibility and decisions, then you’ll know how to go forward. If you are constantly dodging accountability, then you’ll be running for the rest of your life.”