Secretary Basil I. Gooden

Leader portrait photograph

Governor Terence R. McAuliffe appointed Basil I. Gooden, Ph.D. in 2016 to serve as the third Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry for the Commonwealth of Virginia.  In this capacity, he works to support the Governor’s mission of building a new Virginia economy in agriculture and forestry, two of Virginia’s largest private industries. 

Prior to his appointment as Secretary, Dr. Gooden was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve as the state director for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) – Rural Development in Virginia.  Dr. Gooden was primarily responsible for providing executive leadership and policy oversight to this federal agency that allocated approximately $1.25 billion annually to improve the economy and quality of life in rural Virginians. During his tenure at Rural Development, he restructured the agency’s workforce, including hiring twenty-six (26) new employees, to improve program delivery, community outreach, and customer service. 

Previously, Dr. Gooden served as the Chief Deputy Director of the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) for twelve years. He was initially appointed to this position by Governor Mark R. Warner and subsequently served in the administrations of Governors Timothy M. Kaine, Robert F. McDonnell, and Terry McAuliffe.  In that position, his primary administrative responsibilities included strategic management, technology advancement, and community development initiatives in economically distressed communities. Before DHCD, he worked at Virginia Tech where he served as the Coordinator of Outreach and Community Relations.  Additionally, he worked with Virginia Cooperative Extension as an Extension Specialist where he designed and implemented a statewide research project to assess community issues impacting localities across Virginia.  Some of his additional professional experiences include working as a Legislative Assistant to former Congressman L.F. Payne, Jr. (Fifth Congressional District of Virginia) and as a Legislative Aide to former United States Senator Charles S. Robb.

Dr. Gooden is a native of Buckingham County, Virginia where he and his family own and operate a cattle farm, raising Black Angus beef.  His family farm also participates in tree farming and land conversation efforts.  As a youth, he was extremely involved in many Virginia Cooperative Extension related activities that focused on crop production, livestock, and 4-H activities.  He has been an active board member of several statewide organizations such as the Council for Rural Virginia, Housing Virginia, EarthCraft Virginia, Preservation Virginia, and the Virginia Cooperative Extension State Extension Leadership Council.  He previously served as an Advisor on the Buckingham/Cumberland County Farm Service Agency County Committee. 

Dr. Gooden graduated from Buckingham County High School and attended Virginia Tech where he received a B.A. in Political Science.  He earned a Master of Social Work degree from Syracuse University in 1995.  Additionally, he is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he received a Master of Public Health and a Ph.D. in 1998.

Dr. Gooden currently resides in Henrico County with his wife, Dr. Susan Tinsley Gooden, who is a professor of public administration at the Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University. They have one daughter, Caper Gooden, who is a 2016 graduate of the College of William and Mary and is now pursuing a master’s degree in the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University.