Theo has been a prosecutor in the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney for Arlington County and the City of Falls Church for more than 30 years.
Theo joined the office in 1987 and was promoted to Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney in 1998. She became the Chief Deputy in 2002. Theo ran for the Commonwealth’s Attorney position after the retirement in 2011 of her friend, mentor, and predecessor, Dick Trodden. Theo was re-elected in 2015.
"Prosecuting is not just about putting people behind bars. It's about keeping the community safe, giving voice to crime victims and appreciating that people make mistakes," Theo said in announcing her 2019 bid for re-election. "Prosecutors in my office are not measured by the number of convictions, but rather in whether their decisions are just, fair, and ethical."
Theo has prosecuted thousands of cases including capital murder, robbery, violent sexual assaults, intimate partner violence, and drunk driving. Under her leadership, a staff of dedicated prosecutors, victim/witness specialists, and paralegals, work daily to make the criminal justice system in Arlington and Falls Church an example for the region. "I'm enormously proud of the work we do and the dedicated professionals in this office who daily serve our community with integrity, fairness, and a deep sense of humility," Theo said.
Theo proudly describes herself as a criminal justice reformer. One of her first reforms was to push for the creation of the county's Drug Court, which gives participants an opportunity to avoid incarceration through rigorous substance abuse treatment, testing and wrap around services to help stay clean and sober and not to re-offend. Theo also supported the creation of the county's Second Chance program -- a drug and alcohol prevention initiative aimed at keeping students in school instead of being suspended.
"The contours of 21st Century prosecution have changed as we devote more resources to alternative sentencing, diversion programs, and options that prevent that first felony conviction. But our core mission will never change: and that's the principled prosecution of criminal offenders and the vigorous protection of victims' rights," Theo said.
Theo is a leader in the Virginia Association of Commonwealth’s Attorneys (VACA) where she serves as Secretary/Treasurer. She also spearheaded the creation of VACA’s Committee on Justice & Professionalism, which she co-chairs. The committee serves as a forum for prosecutors from across the Commonwealth to discuss and respond to the ever-changing landscape of criminal law and procedure. Theo also serves on VACA’s Curriculum Committee. In addition, Theo serves on the board of directors of the Prosecutors' Center for Excellence, a national organization that works with prosecutors to improve the criminal justice system, to address emerging issues, and to support statewide Best Practices Committees for prosecutors.
In addition to her work with VACA, Theo is statewide bar association leader having previously served on the Board of Governors of the Criminal Law Section of the Virginia State Bar (VSB), on the Bar’s Professionalism Course Faculty, and on the VSB Budget and Finance Committee. Theo previously served as an elected member of the Bar’s governing body and was tapped to serve on the Bar’s Executive Committee. Theo was recently selected as a Fellow of the Virginia Law Foundation which bestows the distinction to a "person of integrity and character who has maintained and upheld the highest standards of the profession and who shall be deemed outstanding in the profession and the community."
Locally, Theo is on the Board of Directors of the Arlington County Bar Foundation and previously served on the board of the Arlington County Bar Association and was elected to its Judicial Selection Committee.
Active in her community, Theo is a graduate and member of the Leadership Center for Excellence and was recently recognized by Arlington Magazine as one of a "Band of Doers" and one of the 10 "most influential graduates" of LCE. She has served on the Executive Committee of the Arlington Traditional School, as Family Network Chair at Swanson Middle School, co-chair of Yorktown High School’s Family Network and on the Board of Directors of Offender Aid and Restoration.
Theo grew up on Chicago’s South Side and graduated from Northern Illinois University with majors in political science and journalism. She received her law degree from American University where she attended night law school while working full time as an editor and reporter for various news outlets, including The Washington Times where she covered the U.S. Supreme Court.
Theo, who has two adult sons, Nicko and Zachary Esherick, continues to live in the Westover neighborhood of Arlington with her husband, Craig Esherick, and Eddie, their 14-year-old family dog. Craig, the former head men's basketball coach at Georgetown University and himself a lawyer, is a professor/associate director of the Center for Sport Management at George Mason University.
"I've had the absolute privilege of serving the communities of Arlington and Falls Church for more than 30 years -- the last 7 as chief prosecutor -- working every day to give voice to crime victims and to ensure that the criminal justice system works for all. I look forward to campaigning and to making the case for my re-election," Theo said.