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Women We Admire is pleased to announce The Top 50 Women Leaders of Virginia for 2024. Located in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern regions of the country, Virginia is known for its iconic historical sites, pristine beaches, and well-balanced economy. The State for Lovers offers excellent economic opportunities for professional women to thrive in a wide variety of industries, including technology, agriculture, and service. These accomplished women represent the future possibilities for other women who have big aspirations in making a substantive impact in their chosen fields.  

Among the 2024 awardees is Katherine Graham, President and CEO of Heritage Contracting, who has built an impressive career in a male-dominated field. Under her leadership, Heritage Contracting reached over $50M in completed projects over the last two years. Continuing the pattern of women’s empowerment in traditionally male roles, awardee Catherine Szpindor is the first woman to serve as the Chief Administrative Officer for the U.S. House of Representatives. 

Equally impressive is awardee Aurelia Taylor Williams of Norfolk State University who led a team to secure the University’s first Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) grant, offering investment in faculty development to modify curriculum and implement a more cohesive online learning model. 

Please join us in celebrating the accomplishments of The Top 50 Women Leaders of Virginia for 2024. 

1. Catherine Szpindor
Chief Administrative Officer, U.S. House of Representatives

Catherine Szpindor is an experienced executive with demonstrated success in leading. Having served as the Chief Administrative Officer for the U.S. House of Representatives during the 117th Congress, she was sworn in as Chief Administrative Officer for the 118th Congress in January 2023. She is the first woman to hold the position. She is responsible for Member and Staff services, such as Finance, Procurement, Logistics and Support, Information Technology, Human Resources and Training, and additional business functions.   

Szpindor joined the House in 2011 as the Director of Enterprise Applications and then was promoted to Deputy CIO and “Acting CIO.” She served as the Chief Information Officer from December 2015 to December 2020. During her time at the House, Catherine directed improvements to technology infrastructure and applications, the adoption of Cloud technologies, and the implementation of collaboration and conferencing tools in support of remote working during the COVID-19 crisis.  

She has an extensive career in information technology and management. Before working at the House, Szpindor served as Vice President of Information Technology for Thomas Nelson Community College. She also worked for many years as Vice President of Information Technology for Nextel, Sprint, and Sprint/Nextel, now known as T-Mobile.

Szpindor holds a master’s degree in information systems from Mercer University’s Stetson School of Business and Economics and has a certificate in strategy and innovation from the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a certificate in strategic business leadership from Georgetown University.

2. Heather Winkle
Chief Design Officer, McAfee

Heather Winkle currently serves as McAfee’s Chief Design Officer, leading the company’s vision for the future of online protection. She has spent nearly three decades as a designer and product leader in high tech. Anyone who has paid a bill online, gotten a stock quote, compared items while online shopping, or filtered a search result in that time has probably interacted with something she designed for the first time on the internet. After completing Carnegie Mellon’s program in Industrial Design, Winkle kicked off her career in Silicon Valley, designing some of the world’s now ubiquitous digital experiences for companies like Apple, Adobe, eBay, Intuit, Yahoo, and Netscape. Fascinated by design’s potential for business, she obtained her MBA and specialized in leading innovation and expanded her human-centered approach into business strategy, organizational design, and leadership to transform teams, services, and systems at scale. 

Prior to joining McAfee, Winkle was Senior Vice President of Design at Capital One, where she helped establish and mature the company’s design practice and design its ecosystem of award-winning digital banking apps. 

She applies her passion for improving the human experience to more than just products: she founded an Equity by Design team to understand and address bias and inclusivity in practice, served on community service and grant-decisioning committees, and continues to be an active participant in business resource groups for women in tech, LGTBQIA2S+ allies, Black and LatinX in tech, and adoptive parents.

3. Fanchon Glover
Chief Diversity Officer, College of William and Mary

Fanchon Glover is the Chief Diversity Officer of the College of William and Mary, a cutting-edge public research university widely recognized for their outstanding academic reputation and more than 300 years of innovation and excellence. Glover provides leadership on campus and in the community on issues of diversity, equity, and  (DEI) and advancing university initiatives that foster inclusion, equity, and success. Glover also serves as an Executive Faculty member in the William & Mary School of Education.

Glover is highly educated with a  bachelor’s degree in sociology from Presbyterian College and a Master of Education degree Doctor of Education from William & Mary. She has worked in higher education for almost 30 years, beginning her career as the first African-American Administrator at her alma mater, Presbyterian College in South Carolina, and she continues to serve on many local and national boards.

4. Shally Stanley
SVP & Global Delivery Leader, Salesforce

Shally Stanley began her professional career over 29 years ago. Today, she is the SVP and Global Delivery Leader of Salesforce. Salesforce is a global cloud computing company that provides business software on a subscription basis. Stanley is responsible for creating and executing Salesforce Professional Services’ global delivery and talent strategies to support Salesforce’s rapidly growing business. Her international team of over 400 people leads delivery innovation efforts that support consistent delivery across the globe, supports global talent development and growth, drives high-quality delivery through robust delivery governance and continuous improvement, and supports the business’ tremendous growth through global delivery centers.

Stanley’s over 25 years of experience as a management consultant to Fortune 500 companies has focused on achieving better business outcomes using innovative information technologies and practices. Before her current role, Stanley served as the managing director for global consulting services and solutions at Acumen Solutions for 15 years. She served as the CTO of Greenwich Technology Partners. Before that, Stanley co-founded NetGain LLC, a highly successful network consulting business that grew to over $5 million in revenue within three years. Stanley began her career at McKinsey & Company. She has been regularly quoted as a subject matter expert in leading publications and has been a speaker at leading industry conferences. She holds an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

5. Betty Schutte-Box
Senior Vice President of Investments, Raymond James

Betty Schutte-Box is the Senior Vice President of Investments at Raymond James, a Florida-based diversified holding company providing financial services to individuals, corporations, and municipalities. Schutte-Box is a highly experienced and credentialed “goals-based” financial advisor. She received her Certified Financial Planner certification in 1990 and, at that time, adopted the disciplined six-step planning process that is central to her practice today. Over time, her clientele has become as devoted to this planning approach as Schutte-Box is devoted to them. She has customized holistic wealth management strategies for multiple generations of high-net-worth families, individuals, family-owned businesses, and family foundations and serves a loyal circle of clients specializing in retirement, wealth, and estate planning strategies for professionals, retirees, business owners, women who are suddenly single, and the LGBTQ+ community.

Schutte-Box strives to be a role model to women and believes in keeping clients educated and updated – and giving them a sense of control and confidence amid periods of personal strife. She graduated from the University of Virginia  With a bachelor of arts degree from the College of Arts and Sciences.

6. Stephanie DeWald
Vice President, Residential Sales & Retention Contact Centers, Cox Communications

Stephanie DeWald is the Vice President of Residential Sales Centers of Excellence for Cox. Prior to this role, she served as the Vice President of Sales Centers.  She leads a team of 1000+ sales and retention professionals who help customers across the country with all Cox products. During her 37+ years at Cox, DeWald has consistently held positions of increased responsibility, including leadership roles in call center sales, retail, retention, and technical support. 

DeWald was recognized in 2018 by the WICT DC/Baltimore Chapter with the Geraldine Laybourne, Fearless Award. She is a past mentor for the WICT DC/Baltimore chapter and currently participates in Cox’s Mentoring Program. She was a mentor for Peer to Peer, a pilot program at Strayer University, and a member of WICT, NAMIC Virginia’s Advisory Council, and the National Association of Collegiate Scholars. She holds the seat of Vice-Chairman on the Board for Girls on the Run, Hampton Roads, and is a graduate of WICT’s Betsy Magness Leadership Institute.  

DeWald holds her BS in Business with a concentration in Leadership and Management and her MBA from Capella University. A leader with a proven record of excellence throughout her career, she is a high-energy, high-impact leader who is skilled at launching new programs or directing programs through turnaround periods. She develops focused and high-performing teams in a competitive industry. She shares her success with her husband, five children, and four grandchildren.

7. Nikole Dunkley
Vice President of Human Resources, Lyon Shipyard

Nikole L. Dunkley became Vice President of Human Resources in May 2023. In this role, she leads the human resources department and oversees all aspects of talent acquisition, career and organizational development, equitable compensation practices, performance enablement employee relations, and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). She also oversees the company’s marketing, social media efforts, and community engagement, as well as the security and training departments. Dunkley joined Lyon Shipyard in April 2015, bringing with her over 27 years of experience.

Dunkley attended Canisius College and Erie Community College with a concentration in business administration and communication. She holds her SPHR, Senior Professional Human Resources certification from HRCI, MD-110 EEOC investigator certification, and is a member of the local and national Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM)  organization. She is also on the board of directors for the Virginia Ship Repair Association Foundation, the Norfolk SPCA, and the Elizabeth River Project.

8. Gloria DiCandia
Senior Experience and Process Optimization Officer, USAA

Gloria DiCandia is the Senior Experience and Process Optimization Officer for USAA, a financial institution that provides a range of services to the military community and their families. DiCandia shares the company’s mission of standing with members and being there for them and their families by facilitating their financial security.

She has a passion for making a positive difference in the lives of others and with her teams and delivers the service promise to customers in their time of need. DiCandia also dedicates her time to her employees, ensuring they develop professionally and are rewarded and recognized for their contributions.

She previously led the Chubb Claims Department for the Service Centers, Immediate Solutions Contact Center, and Operations in the U.S. and offshore. DiCandia has over 25 years of Property and Casualty insurance claims experience, starting her career at GEICO and then joining Chubb Insurance in 1998. She has held various positions of leadership in Service Center Claims, Operations Excellence, and Claim Strategy Management, and was the Claims Intelligent Process Automation Leader. 

DiCandia has a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice with a minor in Pre Law from East Carolina University. She also has formal strategy training from the Haines Centre for Strategic Management and formal process improvement training in LEAN and Six Sigma.

9. Katherine Graham
President and CEO, Heritage Contracting

Katherine Graham is the President and CEO of Heritage Contracting, an 8(a), Woman-Owned, Class “A” General Contractor firm in Chesapeake, Virginia, that has provided a wide range of construction, operation, and maintenance services to both private and Federal clients. Graham has over 15 years of construction knowledge in this male-dominated industry, and she contributes her leadership ability and dedication to her success in the field.  During her career, Graham developed a deep understanding of all aspects of the construction business through her roles as an estimator, superintendent, and project manager prior to accepting the role of President and CEO of Heritage Contracting in 2006. Under her leadership, the company’s  annual revenue in the last two years reached over $50 million dollars in successfully completed projects.

Graham sets the overall direction of Heritage Contracting, focusing on advancing corporate innovation and developing a unique corporate culture. Her secret to her success is surrounding herself with the best people, rewarding and investing in their development. She strives to continually improve in every aspect of her business and personal life and believes in treating everyone with dignity and respect, in giving generously, and in a lifetime pursuit of knowledge. 

10. Menah Pratt
VP for Strategic Affairs & Diversity & Full Professor of Education, Virginia Tech

Menah Pratt, JD, PhD, is the Vice President for Strategic Affairs and Diversity and Full Professor of Education at Virginia Tech. She has almost 25 years of leadership experience in higher education, with a focus on large-scale institutional transformation. With five degrees from University of Iowa and Vanderbilt, she has held senior positions at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Vanderbilt University. She is the founder of the Faculty Women of Color in the Academy National Conference, now in its 12th year and hosted by Virginia Tech.

Nationally recognized as a leader, scholar, and author of four books on issues of race, class, gender, culture, diversity, women’s leadership, education, and critical race feminism, Pratt was selected as the 2021 Inclusive Excellence Individual Leadership Award recipient by the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education. She was also awarded the 2018 American Education Studies Association Critics’ Choice Award for scholarship deemed to be outstanding in its field for A Black Woman’s Journey from Cotton Picking to College Professor: Lessons about Race, Class, and Gender in America, a biography about her mother, Dr. Mildred Pratt. 

A writer, poet, public speaker, creative artist, scholar-activist, academic advocate, and blogger at, her life’s work reflects a commitment to helping others actualize their potential to serve humanity.

11. Megan Stewart
Vice President, Membership, National Association of Manufacturers

Megan Stewart serves as Vice President of Membership at the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every sector and in all 50 states. She leads the team responsible for retaining the NAM’s 2,000 small and medium-sized members through engagement in advocacy initiatives both in Washington and across the country. 

Prior to her current role, Stewart led the strategic accounts team for POLITICO’s subscription service, POLITICO Pro. Stewart and her team oversaw relationships with clients in a wide range of industries, including healthcare, finance, law firms, and government agencies. She spent the first decade of her career at the Advisory Board Company, where she worked with hospital administrators to identify best-in-class operations. She also managed client relationships across a number of the Advisory Board’s business lines, including talent development, research and insights, and technology. Stewart also worked directly with the office of the chairman to engage and retain key strategic accounts. A native of St. Augustine, Florida, Stewart graduated from The George Washington University. She lives in Richmond, Virginia, with her husband and two daughters.

12. Jennifer Anders
Associate Vice President of Investments, Even Keel Wealth Advisors of Raymond James

Through her 30 years in the financial services industry, Jennifer Anders has helped clients pursue their goals and navigate important milestones in life. She strives to get to know her clients and understand what is truly important to them and accordingly, offers a personalized financial planning experience. She started her career in financial services with the American Funds Service Group as a senior shareholder services representative and then moved on to Bank of America/Merrill Lynch, where she trained to be an advisor. After working there for 23 years, Anders and her team moved their practice over to Raymond James in 2019, where they enjoy greater freedom to maintain their client-centered focus.

As a Certified Financial Planner professional, Anders has committed to uphold high ethical standards. She also holds the designations of Chartered Financial Consultant, Certified Plan Fiduciary Advisor and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst. She specializes in families of children with special needs and life transitions, such as divorce or widowhood. As a woman wealth management advisor, she feels that she offers an empathetic approach to difficult life events.

Anders believes in giving back to the community, serving as chairperson of Eggleston, a nonprofit centered on providing opportunities to people with differing abilities. She also served for eight years on the Virginia Beach Community Services board and on the YMCA JT’s Camp Grom board.

Originally from Hampton, Virginia, Anders lives in Virginia Beach with her husband and their dog. She attended Old Dominion University and graduated with an undergraduate degree in business administration.

13. Erin Wendell
Chief Marketing Officer, ivWatch

Erin Wendell joined ivWatch, a medical device IV safety company, in December 2019 and was appointed as Chief Marketing Officer to lead all aspects of the company’s global brand marketing strategy. She is responsible for ivWatch’s brand image, reputation, and messaging, digital presence, internal and external communications, and experiential marketing.

Prior to ivWatch, Wendell spent nearly 14 years at global sportswear manufacturer Under Armour, Inc. in Baltimore, MD. She was the first member of the communications team and played a critical role in helping to build the function from the ground up, turning the newly established public company in 2005 into a premium household name at the end of her tenure. She has spearheaded, designed, and implemented internal and external communications outreach strategies to build awareness, drive results, and disrupt the marketplace around key initiatives. With a proven track record of storytelling, Wendell has served in various roles contributing to the corporate and brand reputation of the company and as a trusted advisor to executive leadership.

In her most recent role at Under Armour, she served as the senior director of global communications where she focused on leading both global and domestic communications teams and agencies, entries into new markets, crisis and brand reputation management, and executive positioning. In 2015, she joined the management team at Under Armour as director of global communications where she led more than 100 global scale marketing and product campaign launches and worked cross-functionally with brand marketing, product, merchandising, digital, sales, and international teams to execute successful go-to-market plans driving mass media coverage.

Wendell is a graduate of Randolph-Macon College where she received her degree in business and economics and was a student-athlete. She became the first woman in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference to be named athlete of the year in a particular sport four times. She was inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame in 2018 for her accomplishments. Wendell, her husband, and two daughters live in Williamsburg, Virginia.

14. Alicia Smith
Vice President, F&S Building Innovations Inc.

Alicia Smith is a Vice President at F&S Building Innovations, a commercial construction company serving Central Virginia and specializing in commercial construction and remodeling services for healthcare facilities, general office spaces, and new retail spaces for some of the largest supermarket chains in the US. Her first role at F&S was working part-time in accounts payable and human resources while attending Liberty University. Early in her career, she spent  almost 15 years as General Manager and CFO of an international light gauge steel manufacturer, overseeing many aspects from design and engineering to production, sales, accounting, and human resources. She returned to the F&S in 2016, taking over marketing and development and becoming the resident design professional. She was promoted to VP in late 2021 and continues to serve the company as a committed and passionate leader. 

Smith is a former board member of Better Business Bureau, Parkway Christian Academy, Palestine Baptist Church Leadership Team, Valley Business Front Advisory Board, and Roanoke Regional Home Builders. She is currently the 2023 President of the Roanoke Regional Home Builders Association and serves on the Executive Board for the Home Builders Association of Virginia. She is also highly involved in her church community. She lives in Roanoke, Virginia, with her husband and two daughters.

15. Marija Zivanovic-Smith
Chief Marketing & Communications Officer, IEX

As IEX Group’s first Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Marija Zivanovic-Smith leads the company’s strategic marketing, brand, and communications function to strengthen the brand and incorporate digital tools that drive growth for IEX’s exchange and technology businesses as IEX enters the digital asset space. A seasoned technology executive whose experience spans from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups, Zivanovic-Smith most recently served as Chief Marketing Officer at NCR where she helped transform its 138-year-old brand reputation, built digital and growth marketing strategies, orchestrated the company’s entrance into new markets and business lines, and led the company’s award-winning COVID-19 global pandemic response task force.

Zivanovic-Smith is passionate about her community and financial inclusion. She served as a White House appointee to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Business Advisory Council as the U.S. business representative, currently serves on the board of directors for Kashat, Egypt’s first nano financial services provider, and is a thought leader with Forbes as an advisory member on the Forbes Communications Council. She received the Serbian Medal of Honor for her positive impact on the Serbian economy, has been named a Gold Stevie Award Female Executive of the Year three times, and has been named a Ragan Top Women in Communications honoree twice.

Zivanovic-Smith is a graduate of the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, is fluent in English and Serbian, and is proficient in Italian. She resides outside Washington DC with her husband and their two daughters.

16. Donna Long

Donna Long has over four decades of experience in communications, project management, and leadership roles, including a demonstrated history of Design-Build-Furnish projects.  As the President of GovSolutions, Inc., an authorized MillerKnoll dealership headquartered in Virginia Beach,  she leads an innovative team of full-service packaged office specialists who provide interior space planning, project management, a variety of public sector commercial furniture and furnishings, installation services, warranty/repair, and move/reconfiguration services.  Giving back is part of the company culture and part of Long’s personal philosophy.  She served on the Board of Directors for a local non-profit organization,  Tidewater Arts Outreach for 8 years to include a two-year term holding the position of President.

Long started her career in the U.S. Navy as a Radioman (RM2), a specialist in communications technology.  After she served the country, she entered the civilian world as a Project Coordinator for a Herman Miller Authorized Furniture Dealership, Office Pavilion San Diego.  In 2004, she founded an office furniture dealership, GovSolutions, Inc.  Fast forward 20 years and she has grown that small one-person operation into a multi-million-dollar corporation with 30 employees, a Commercial Furniture Division and General Construction Division.  In 2022, GovSolutions launched a wholly owned subsidiary, Falkbuilt Greater Hampton Roads, introducing Digital Component Construction for interiors. 

17. Izella Mitchell Dornell
Vice President Executive Partner, Gartner

Izella Mitchell Dornell is a Vice President Executive Partner with the Gartner Executive Programs Service Delivery team, working extensively in the federal and public sectors and tribal markets. She serves as a strategic partner for federal, state, local, and tribal technology leaders, and CIOs, enabling their ability to successfully unlock transformative solutions for their respective organizational mission-critical priorities. She is also the Americas Program Manager for Gartner’s Women CIO community. Dornell is an accomplished senior executive with a successful career in public service.

Prior to joining Gartner, Dornell was the deputy CIO for the U.S. Department of Commerce, where she was recognized for outstanding IT portfolio management and proven results across the department and among her peers in the federal government. She also had an extensive career at NASA, beginning as a technical intern at the Johnson Space Center. While at NASA, Dornell held several progressive leadership roles in support of the Human Spaceflight programs, Space Shuttle, International Space Station and Constellation. She ultimately led the agency’s transition of the Space Shuttle’s annual multi-billion-dollar infrastructure/assets at the end of the program. Dornell was part of NASA’s senior management team that established the Exploration Systems Mission organization at NASA Headquarters in response to the Space Exploration Vision’s Executive Order from the President of the United States. 

Dornell’s formal education includes an undergraduate degree in mathematics and physics from Tennessee State University, and an MBA from the University of Houston, along with completing Harvard’s Executive Management Program, Penn State University’s Leadership Program, and Simmons College Executive Program for Female Executives.

18. Lori Raya
Division President Mid-Atlantic, Kroger

As the Division President in Mid-Atlantic of Kroger, Lori Raya is An accomplished merchandising and marketing executive with a 30+ year track record in the retail food industry, influencing and managing large-scale transformations resulting in increased team cohesion, customer engagement, and revenue growth. She fearlessly leads teams to victory by developing instant credibility, fostering collaborative problem-solving, and supporting employee development, and she is adept at identifying business growth opportunities through in-depth consumer research and market trend analysis.

Before joining Kroger, Raya was a chief merchandising and marketing officer at SpartanNash and t a division president at Albertsons Companies. Earlier in her career, she worked with Safeway as a group vice president of strategic initiatives. Raya graduated from Colorado Mesa University with a PhD and from Mesa State College with an undergraduate degree in business management and education.

18. Samantha Marrs
Senior AVP of Development & Alumni Relations, Campaign Administration, Virginia Commonwealth University

Samantha Wheeler Marrs joined Virginia Commonwealth University in 2000 as director of corporate and foundation relations. She has 30 years of experience working in the profession of higher education philanthropy. Today, her primary responsibility as Senior Associate Vice President for Campaign Administration is to manage key DAR areas, including budget, strategic marketing and engagement, and advancement services, including donor relations, communications, annual giving, regional philanthropy, and corporate and foundation relations. 

Her previous experience includes eight years as a program associate at The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, where she coordinated higher-education grants. She holds degrees from Smith College and Columbia University. She has served as president of a local middle school PTA, chair of the board of the Virginia Poverty Law Center, and secretary/treasurer of the board of VirginiaFIRST, a nonprofit dedicated to expanding STEM activities across the commonwealth.

19. Laura Sprouse
Partner, Brown Edwards & Company LLP

Laura Sprouse joined the Brown Edwards team in September 1998 and with over 25 years of accounting experience, currently serves as the firm’s chief operations officer (COO). As COO, she leads the firm’s internal administrative teams, including information technology, human resources, finance, and business development, and spearheads many of the firm’s special projects.

During her time as COO, she has helped shape the future of Brown Edwards through strategic growth initiatives and leading/supporting change that will move the company forward as the profession continues to evolve. The firm has grown from $25m to $80m during her tenure as COO and has become a Top 75 Accounting Firm nationally, as identified by Inside Public Accounting (IPA), and is the largest independent CPA firm headquartered in Virginia based on number of CPAs as awarded by Virginia Business. Internally, Sprouse helped spearhead their diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) Committee to ensure that Brown Edwards is addressing opportunities for all groups. 

Before taking on the role of COO, Sprouse led the firm’s accounting information systems group. In that role, she supported the firm and clients in selecting and implementing various software packages and facilitated LEAN Six Sigma projects. She is also active with the BDO USA Alliance, serving as a leader of a COO roundtable, and has frequently spoken to industry groups on accounting firm operations, paths to partnership, and mergers and acquisitions.  

Sprouse earned her Bachelor’s degree in Accounting, Finance, and Decision Support Systems from Ferrum College, and is a licensed CPA in Virginia. She is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), and the Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants (VSCPA). 

20. Cate Lemmond
Founding President & CEO, Anicira Veterinary Center

Cate Lemmond is the founding President and CEO of Anicira Veterinary Center. Since starting in 2005, Lemmond has transformed her personal passion into a vibrant business that helps pets live happier, healthier lives and supports the families who love them. Under her leadership, Anicira has grown tremendously and expanded to ensure all pets in the regions Anicira serves have access to comprehensive care. Through her vision and commitment to helping pets in need, Lemmond has created and implemented many innovative programs. Most importantly to her, Anicira now provides affordable and accessible veterinary services to more than 30,000 pet patients each year. Leveraging a business model based on partnerships, Lemmond and her team help to ensure that the economics of high-quality veterinary care does not prevent families from experiencing the many benefits of sharing a life with pets.

Lemmond earned an undergraduate degree in government from the University of Virginia and a master’s degree in public policy and animals from the Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine. She is also a Certified Animal Welfare Administrator and a Certified Veterinary Practice Manager.

21. Debra Dandridge
Executive Director and Co-Founder, Dress for Success Worldwide

Debra Dandridge is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of Dress for Success Worldwide, which has a mission to empower women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire, and the development tools to help women thrive in work and in life. She co-founded Dress for Success Hampton Roads in Norfolk, Virginia, in 2005. She also served on the Executive Board from 2012 to 2014. 

Dandridge has a bachelor of arts degree in sociology from Norfolk State University, and she earned her Certification in Nonprofit Management from the Academy for Nonprofit Excellence at Tidewater Community College, sponsored by the Hampton Roads Community Foundation. She has also been an active volunteer at the Crispus Attucks Cultural Center.

22. Kimberly Blair
Vice President for Advancement, Roanoke College

Kim Blair serves as the Vice President for Advancement at Roanoke College. She previously served as the assistant vice president of advancement for Roanoke at Virginia Tech, where she led advancement teams tasked with securing private philanthropic funding for the Virginia Tech Carilion – Health, Science & Technology Campus in the Roanoke Innovation Corridor. Blair orchestrated fundraising and advancement operations while overseeing outreach and strategic communication initiatives centered in Roanoke.

Before assuming her expanded role in Roanoke, Blair served as a senior principal gifts officer within the university’s Advancement Division since 2015. In this role, she helped secure multimillion-dollar gifts supporting the Virginia Tech Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC, Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, College of Engineering, Virginia Tech Athletics, COE Department of Mechanical Engineering, the Program in Real Estate, the Corps of Cadets, and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Blair also closed the largest gift in Virginia Tech history, a $50M gift to name the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC in 2018.

Prior to rejoining Virginia Tech in 2015, Kim served as the VP of institutional advancement at Ferrum College where she launched and completed the most successful campaign in Ferrum’s history while celebrating the 100th anniversary of the institution. She joined Ferrum following two years serving Virginia Tech the first time as the chief advancement officer for the College of Architecture and Urban Studies and raising $35 million in her short tenure for the college during the university’s Invent the Future campaign.

Previously at Roanoke College, Blair held roles as director of development, director of annual giving, director of alumni, parent relations, and annual programs, and development representative before continuing her career at Ferrum College and Virginia Tech. Blair is a native Southwest Virginian and grew up in Blacksburg. She attended Roanoke College for her undergraduate degree and the University of Lynchburg for her master’s degree. Blair is married with five children and resides in Salem, Virginia. She serves on the boards of Visit Blue Ridge, Ridge View Bank, Carilion Clinic Foundation, and North Cross School.

22. Elizabeth Krousel
Associate VP and Program Manager, Michael Baker International

Elizabeth Krousel is an Associate Vice President and Program Manager of Michael Baker International. She first joined the company in 2007 as a surface water section manager and program manager. Michael Baker International is a leading provider of engineering and consulting services, including design, planning, architectural, environmental, construction, and program management. The company provides its comprehensive range of services and solutions to support U.S. federal, state, and municipal governments, foreign allied governments, and a wide range of commercial clients. Along with Michael Baker’s more than 3,000 employees across nearly 100 locations, Krousel is committed to a culture of innovation, collaboration, and technological advancement to help solve challenges for clients and communities throughout the country.

In addition to her current roles, Krousel currently serves as the first vice chair of the Water Environment Federation’s (WEF’s) Stormwater Committee. She educates children on sustainability issues, including Earth Day events and more. She also presented and moderated technical sessions at the annual WEFTEC conference and served as a Chapter Champion for the update to the WEF publication, Rainfall to Results. Krousel earned an MS in civil and environmental engineering from The University of Texas at Austin and an undergraduate degree in civil engineering from Louisiana State University.

23. Susan Pilato
Chief Executive Officer, Mantra Inspired Furniture

Susan Pilato is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Mantra Inspired Furniture, a commercial furniture manufacturing and design company headquartered in Norfolk, Virginia. Pilato leads the company by exemplifying a simple code to propel the design community’s imagination through the creation of sustainable, American-made, investment-grade furniture. Throughout her 36 years of experience, Pilato has been an industry leader, starting her career as an account executive at Chasen’s Business Interiors before founding PC&A Business Environments, a woman-owned and designer-focused furniture dealership, as well as Founder and CEO for Mantra Inspired Furniture

Pilato graduated from Virginia Tech with a bachelor of science degree in interior design. As an active volunteer, she has served on several boards, including TowneBank and Envision Lead Grow, as well as Commissioner for the Norfolk Airport Authority and Vice Chairman of the Bon Secours Hampton Roads Foundation Board.

24. Eva Posner
President and Founder, Evinco Strategies

Eva Posner is the President and Founder of Evinco Strategies, a women-run one-stop-shop political consulting firm made up of Democrats and progressives that specializes in supporting candidates from underrepresented communities and organizations with movement-building goals to help their clients make structural change through electoral politics with passion and authenticity. A political Renaissance woman, Posner has filled roles in field, fundraising, management, operations, and communications in dozens of Democratic campaigns and political organizations across California and the South. She’s overseen million-dollar races with national attention, grassroots school board races with no staff, and everything in between.

Posner opened Evinco Strategies in 2016 to focus on electing candidates who increase representation in government, specializing in first-time candidates from diverse backgrounds who face barriers in traditional campaigns, as well as issue campaigns that tackle systemic injustice. Posner is passionate about social and criminal justice, local and state-level campaigns, diverse representation in politics, and training the next generation of political operatives. Prior to her work in politics, Posner worked as a journalist, with a focus on government and human trafficking. She earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Tennessee.

25. Nichole Hahn
SVP, Chief Human Resources Officer, GovCIO

Nichole Hahn is the Senior Vice President (SVP) and Chief Human Resources Officer at GovCio, a company that provides IT solutions and services to transform government IT. Hahn is an experienced Human Resources executive with more than 25 years of success leading organizations to meet corporate objectives and customer requirements by developing leaders, influencing team direction, building talent pipelines, and managing organizational change. 

Hahn previously served Valiant Integrated Services as their Chief People & Diversity Officer where she led the Human Resources Function for this global company. Prior to Valiant, Hahn worked for AECOM (formerly URS) since 2002 and served as Vice President of Human Resources leading HR operations in support of AECOM’s international contracts in Afghanistan and Kuwait. She also provided HR leadership to AECOM’s Strategic Business Units supporting the Department of Defense, Department of Treasury, Department of State, and the Intelligence Community. Prior to AECOM, Hahn worked for Deloitte as a Human Resources Manager where she provided full cycle Human Resources support. She started in HR at Wells Fargo Corporate Headquarters, and before that, she worked on Capitol Hill for West Virginia Congressman Robert Wise and the non-profit organization The Sons of Italy Foundation.

Hahn, a certified Human Resources Professional, has a BS degree in Journalism from West Virginia University and an Advanced Certificate in Human Resources Strategic Management from Cornell University. She is also a national member of the Society of Human Resources Management, the WashingtonExec Human Capital Council, Executive Mosaic, and the National Association of Professional Women. She has also been featured in WashingtonExec magazine.

25. Aurelia Taylor Williams
Senior Vice Provost, Executive Director & Professor, Norfolk State University

As Senior Vice Provost for Academic and Faculty Affairs at Norfolk University, Aurelia Taylor Williams leads, administrates, and oversees efforts related to faculty and staff activities in the division of Academic Affairs. As interim Vice Provost for Academic Administration, she led a team to secure the University’s first Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) grant. This project offers investment in faculty development to modify curriculum and implement a more cohesive online learning model. Her expertise has led to the implementation of professional development opportunities and programs to strengthen and support effective working relationships within the University Community. 

She offers over 22 years of progressive experience in the development and oversight of academic programs, policies, and initiatives to promote student growth and achievement. A Professor of Computer Science and the Founding Executive Director of NSU’s Cybersecurity Complex, Williams passionately seeks new ways to strengthen the learning experience for both undergraduate and graduate students. As the former computer science chair, she provided senior departmental leadership through a period of exponential growth, enhancing cybersecurity at NSU to expand across multidisciplinary departments at NSU, regionally and nationally. The outcome of these efforts led to championing the university’s cybersecurity initiative to secure $45 million in external funding while leading a consortium of thirteen HBCUs and two national laboratories to increase individual and collective capacity while influencing cybersecurity workforce growth. Due to her leadership, NSU received an HBCU Visionary award given by the US Department of Treasury.

Williams is skilled in establishing and expanding collaborative relationships with various national, state, and local agencies to increase faculty and student opportunities for research and innovation. She leverages her technical background to lead cross-functional and high-performing teams to deliver effective results. Due to her transformational style of leadership, these projects have yielded the University over $10 million, established multiple partnerships and collaborations, and instituted processes to improve administrative practices in academic affairs. In her career, she has served on multiple committees, charges, and task forces at NSU, in Virginia and nationally. She has been a keynote speaker and presenter at a variety of conferences, both nationally and internationally. Formally trained in computer science, Williams earned an undergraduate degree from Norfolk State University, a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University, and a doctoral degree from Pace University.

26. Audra Grassia
Founder & Chief Executive Officer, Grassia Collaborative

Audra Grassia and her partner, Lateisha Garrett, founded Luminarity on the premise that the most marginalized people deserve to have access to the tools they need to fully participate in the decision making in their communities. As women and as people of color, they sometimes find it hard to maintain their optimism in America’s promise while they are subjected daily to the injustices and structural barriers that attempt to demean their contributions and limit their advancement. But their hope for a better world and their belief that people thrive when they live in equitable communities inspire them to be vocal advocates of people from diverse lived experiences. Luminarity pushes this optimistic vision by providing fractional technical and fractional marketing consulting services to purpose-driven organizations. Using their decades of experience in social enterprises, nonprofits, and progressive politics, Grassia and Garrett help organizations identify the strategies, tools, and tactics they need to grow efficiently. 

Grassia is an accomplished leader with nearly 20 years of experience working with political, government, private-sector, and nonprofit organizations to plan and execute large-scale campaigns and programs. She’s an expert at stakeholder engagement, cross-functional team collaboration, and applying data and digital tools and tactics to enhance program outcomes and measure impact. She has worked across the political ecosystem in roles ranging from Deputy Political Director to the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) to serving as a States Team Deputy Director for Elizabeth Warren’s 2020 presidential campaign. In 2020, Audra founded her first consulting firm out of a desire to help strategic decision-makers make better use of the data & technology resources at their disposal. She will continue and expand on this work under Luminarity’s banner. In addition to her professional life, Audra serves as a Reserve Officer in the Army and lives in central Virginia with her spouse, two daughters, and dog.

27. Kimberly Horn
Scientist & Professor, Virginia Tech-Carilion Fralin Biomedical Research Institute

A Virginia native, born and raised in Roanoke, Dr. Kimberly Horn is a nationally recognized research leader, scholar, and innovator. A scientist of distinction, she has served as Principal Investigator on at least 50 funded research projects, publishing over 150 articles. Focused on helping individuals and communities understand and address addiction, Horn has maintained a diverse research funding portfolio from federal, state, and private agencies spanning two decades. Over the years, programs resulting from her research have received awards and national designations, among them the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration Evidence-based Model Program, the National Cancer Institute Research Tested Intervention Program, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Adoptable Program, and an Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Model Program.

Horn’s studies have caught the attention of the popular media outlets around the world, including TIME, CNN, USA Today, and the NY Times. Most recently, she is spearheading innovations through public-private partnerships to address the opioid crisis in Central Appalachia, including Southwest Virginia, and beyond. She is passionate about community engagement and collaboration to solve critical public health issues. One recent and noteworthy initiative for Virginia is her work with the Roanoke Valley Collective Response, of which she was the co-founding chair. Bridging unprecedented partnerships with stakeholders representing addiction prevention and treatment, law enforcement, government, housing, faith, education, research, and individuals in recovery, the group developed a collaborative “Blueprint for Action” to address the opioid and addiction crisis in the Roanoke Valley, a blueprint which has guided local government decision making and served as a model for communities across the Commonwealth. In September 2021, Senator Kaine visited Roanoke to honor lives lost to overdoses, acknowledging the work of the Roanoke Valley Collective Response and its impact. 

Horn is the founding co-director of the Opioid Research Consortium of Central Appalachia. She holds a research professor appointment with Virginia Tech.

27. Stephanie Karfias
General Counsel, Mission Lane

Stephanie Karfias is General Counsel, Compliance and Risk Executive for Mission Lane, a top-rated and purpose-driven consumer fintech startup company helping millions of underserved Americans find their way to credit. With over two decades of strategic thought leadership and management experience, Karfias joined the company in 2020. In her role, she focuses on navigating the complex and evolving world of fintech legal and compliance requirements and enabling responsible speed to the innovation of clear and fair consumer financial products and services.

Prior to joining Mission Lane, Karfias was SVP and deputy general counsel for SunTrust Bank and Truist Bank, where she held a variety of legal executive positions. She started her legal career as an associate at the McGuireWoods law firm where she later became a partner. Her first in-house role was as an assistant general counsel for Capital One Financial Corporation where she led the company’s litigation practice group, managed the nationwide consumer credit card litigation portfolio, and helped establish the company’s first legal operation function. 

Consistent with her commitment to helping better people’s financial lives, Karfias is an active supporter and board member of Junior Achievement of Central Virginia. She received her Juris Doctor and Master of Business Administration from Washington University in St. Louis and an undergraduate degree in economics from Vanderbilt University.

28. Gabriela Christie Toletti
Arts & Humanities Chair and Professor, Tidewater Community College

Gabriela Christie Toletti was born in Montevideo, Uruguay. She is the Arts and Humanities Chair and Professor at Tidewater Community College. Additionally, she is a member of the board of directors of the Uruguayan American Foundation. Toletti was previously an Associate Adjunct Professor of World Cultural Studies and World Literature at Old Dominion University and taught Spanish and literature at Wingate University and English at the Alianza Cultural Uruguay-Estados Unidos. She has specialized in the areas of Latin American literature, interdisciplinary studies, Hispanic theater, world cultural studies, psychology, pedagogy, academic program development, study abroad programs, and Spanish and English teaching and translation.

Toletti has been a speaker at conferences and keynote events and has been interviewed for TV and radio on a variety of topics such as Hispanic heritage, diversity issues, literature, academic programs, and the work of the Uruguayan American Foundation. She has written articles and compilations, has translated plays, and has been awarded grants to carry out research on literature, interdisciplinary studies, and multicultural issues. Her publications explore issues of migration, oppression, dictatorship, diversity, cultural identity, group dynamics, pedagogy, and online teaching. She is also the author of two research books and is currently writing two more – a bilingual children’s book that explores issues of immigration, diversity, health, education, and growing up in a multicultural family and a poetry book titled Patchwork Life

Toletti graduated as a teacher of English as a second language from the Alianza Cultural Uruguay-Estados Unidos, as a clinical psychologist from the University of Uruguay, and with an MA and PhD in Latin American literature from the State University of New York at Buffalo.

29. Kimberly Wilson
COO, CHRO & Deputy Director, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

Kimberly Wilson joined the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in 2015 and is currently the Chief Operating Officer (COO), Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO)?, and Deputy Director for Museum Operations, Human Resource Services, and Volunteers. A native Richmonder, Wilson’s extensive experience in strategic operations and human resources spans more than 20 years. She leads the Museum Operations Division, which comprises the HR, IT, visitor experience, building & grounds, security, and enterprise/food service portfolios. Her passion for and successful record of accomplishment in creating innovative, highly engaged, diverse, and inclusive workforces have launched VMFA to the forefront of talent management and recruitment within the cultural arts sector.

Wilson has an extensive leadership background in both public and private sectors, including considerable experience in the higher education sector, with a number of leadership roles at such prestigious institutions as Howard University and Howard University Hospital, University of Richmond, and The George Washington University. She is a nationally recognized voice within the higher education and cultural arts fields, having worked with the American Association of Museum Curators, Biennial of the Americas, Higher Education Recruiting Consortium, the American Council of Education, the Office of Women in Higher Education, and the Richmond Society of Human Resource Management. She was named a finalist for the Human Resource Leadership Award of Greater Washington in 2015. Additionally, she received the George Washington University VALOR Award, given to GW administrators for contributing to the success of the GW VALOR program for student military members, their families, and veterans. 

Wilson holds an undergraduate degree in political science from the University of Mary Washington.

30. Lindsey Worrix
Director of Program/Project Management, Elevance Health

Lindsey Worrix is the Director of Program and Project Management for Elevance Health. She has over 25 years of healthcare experience supporting complex government agencies and organizations. She is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) and Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP) through the Project Management Institute. She started her career at Independence Blue Cross in Philadelphia where she gained her passion for working in Healthcare. During her tenure, she led numerous teams focused on quality initiatives to improve the member experience. Worrix later became a consultant for the federal government by serving as a project manager and trusted business advisor for both the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense.

At Elevance Health, her team is responsible for ensuring the flawless end-to-end execution of client reporting solutions. She also serves as the Richmond site lead for the Women’s Inspired Network, one of Elevance’s associate business resource groups. She resides in Midlothian, Virginia, with her husband and son. She is an active member of the Junior League of Richmond, whose mission is “Women Supporting Women.”

31. Tarah Williams
President and Chief Operating Officer, Prospera Financial

Tarah Williams is the President and Chief Operating Officer (COO) for Prospera Financial. She first joined the company in 2007 as SVP of marketing. Founded in 1982, Prospera Financial is a company that is focused on service and based on a strong set of core values. By operating with honesty, integrity, and an unwavering commitment to the investor, they exist to support the success of financial professionals which can lead to success for those they serve. Williams is an experienced financial professional with over 25 years of experience in the financial services industry. She brings a strong sense of strategy and vision to her roles at Prospera.

Throughout her time in the industry, she has served on many conference panels and conducted numerous seminars on fields including recruiting, transitions, client experience, risk management, and marketing for the broker-dealer marketplace. Being an avid writer, she has also published numerous white papers and articles on industry-specific topics. Williams earned an undergraduate degree in business family and consumer sciences and human sciences from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

31. Emily Jasper
Director of Company Information Services, S&P Global Market Intelligence

Emily Jasper is on the product management team with S&P Global Market Intelligence, serving as Director of Company Information Services and focusing on solutions delivered to customers in sales and marketing roles, including CRM data solutions. She works to manage and enhance the S&P Global Market Intelligence for Salesforce offering, as well as collaborates with teams building Xpressfeed™ and API products.

Jasper also serves as the global president for S&P Global’s Pride LGBTQ+ People Resource Group, supporting thousands of members and allies around the globe. Her passion for the LGBTQ+ community has contributed to amicus brief signatures from her firm, expanded employee benefits, and year-round programming and resourcing to support a more inclusive environment.

Before joining S&P Global Market Intelligence in 2018, Jasper had a decade of experience working in product and marketing in the manufacturing, advertising, and enterprise software industries. She is also a previous two-time recipient of Forbes’ Women 100 Websites for Women and serves on the board of directors for Housing Families First, a local nonprofit focused on providing housing assistance to families experiencing homelessness. She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from William & Mary and an MBA in marketing, organizational management, and strategy from Virginia Tech.

32. Dainan Gibson
Director of Business Development, ECS Mid-Atlantic

Dainan Gibson is the Director Of Business Development at ECS Mid-Atlantic, a leader in geotechnical, construction materials, environmental, and facilities engineering consulting.

Being an accomplished business leader, there are countless marketing professionals that Gibson is affiliated with in the greater Hampton Roads community. Hampton Roads is rich with an environment and history of lasting, meaningful, and profitable relationships. Her personal drive comes from a true passion for the personal and professional success of her clients, colleagues, business partners, and friends. She believes that always doing the right thing produces the greatest long-term success. Developing relationships is her happy place and she’s happiest when she can help people connect to achieve their goals. 

Steeped as a networking resource, Gibson is a connector and a truest at identifying opportunities and utilizing creativity. There is a sincere satisfaction in bringing opportunities to her company, colleagues, and professional peers. She has a long history of serving the community and volunteering through many local associations. She volunteers her services to the board of the Association of General Contractors, International Facilities Management Association, Women In Defense Greater Hampton Roads, Commercial Real Estate Women, and the Society of American Military Engineers Hampton Roads Post, among others.

33. Sabrina Plassman
Chief Operating Officer, New Teacher Center

Sabrina Plassman is the Chief Operating Officer for the New Teacher Center (NTC), a national nonprofit organization with a vision that every student from preschool through high school deserves an excellent and equitable education that empowers them to reach their full potential in classrooms, communities, and beyond. Plassman provides leadership to the Finance, Operations, Impact, and Technology Enablement teams, ensuring that NTC’s Central Teams provide excellent operational support across the organization. 

Prior to serving as the Acting Chief Operating Officer, Plassman was the Senior Vice President of Program, overseeing the Innovation and Design, Delivery, Federal Grants, Internal Learning, Impact, and Professional Learning Systems teams. She began her career as a 6th-grade teacher in Charlotte, North Carolina. 

She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Boston College, a Master’s degree in Policy Organization and Leadership from Stanford University’s School of Education, and an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

34. Kristen Patz
Principal Engagement Director, Salesforce

Kristen Patz is the Principal Engagement Director at Salesforce. She has over two decades of experience improving business processes and performance for commercial enterprise customers through the application of cloud-based technology and business solutions. She has extensive knowledge and experience in the areas of technology consulting, product management, product marketing, business development, project management, software development, solution design, requirements analysis, training, and configuration. 

Patz is passionate about improving business performance by delivering effective and efficient technology solutions with measurable results. Prior to joining Salesforce, she served as an engagement director for Acumen Solutions. She graduated from Marymount University with an undergraduate degree in fashion merchandising and management marketing and with an MBA in marketing management.

35. Beth Ackerman
SVP of Rivermont Schools, New Story Schools

Beth Ackerman is the SVP of Rivermont Schools New Story Schools. She first joined the school system in 2020. New Story and its family of schools and clinics serve students with autism spectrum disorders and emotional support needs with an array of services aimed at helping every child write new stories of success. With a team of approximately 500 employees, Rivermont New Story Schools has 14 schools and 6 Your Life ABA clinics across the Commonwealth of Virginia, which provide individualized and intensive educational, behavioral, and therapeutic services for nearly 1,000 children and adolescents with emotional disabilities or autism across our state.

Previously, Ackerman was a teacher at Rivermont Schools before she moved on to assist in starting the special education program at Liberty University, where she later became a professor and administrator for 15 years. Her master’s degree is in special education with a postgraduate professional license from the Virginia Department of Education, which endorses her to teach elementary education K-8, learning disabilities, emotional disabilities, intellectual disabilities, and administration and supervision K-12. Her doctorate degree is in educational leadership from UVA. Ackerman also continues to teach online for Liberty University and conducts professional development workshops for regional Christian school conferences where she shares her knowledge on leadership, differentiated instruction, and behavioral challenges for aiding Christian educators.

36. Taylor Hiers
Vice President of Psychiatry, Thriveworks

Taylor Hiers is the Vice President of the Psychiatry program at Thriveworks. She joined the company as a therapist in 2017. Thriveworks is a national outpatient behavioral health provider with more than 2,400 providers focusing on outpatient therapy and psychiatry to offer help to a wide variety of clients seeking mental health treatment. 

Hiers is a licensed professional counselor in the state of Virginia. She oversees the Psychiatry program at Thriveworks which is based in more than 25 states. Hiers took over the psychiatry program in its infancy in late 2019. The program started with a small group of providers and has grown to include nearly 200 psychiatric providers across the nation. She works closely alongside the chief medical officer at Thriveworks, placing a strong focus on the much-needed collaborative practices between medication and therapy.

Hiers has worked in various mental health settings throughout her career, including residential treatment, community mental health, developing and managing a school-based therapeutic program for ages K-12, therapeutic alternative education, group therapy, and one-on-one therapy, and she is well versed in clinical assessment and diagnosing.

Her passion and interest over the years has been in program development in the mental health field, creating robust programs that help clinical professionals meet the needs of a diverse group of clients. She is passionate about helping mental health professionals meet their goals while genuinely meeting client needs. She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a Masters in professional counseling from Liberty University.

37. Cassandra Page
Assistant Dean, College of Health & Behavioral Sciences Associate, and Professor, Psychology Department, Regent University

Since joining Regent University as Assistant Professor in 2014, Dr. Cassandra Page has been fortunate to journey alongside the PsyD graduate student population whilst ensuring that culturally diverse students succeed in their endeavors. Her various roles have enabled her to provide perspectives to try and understand the role of the offender while also being viewed as the offense, value differences so unique stories, perspectives, and voices can be heard and upheld, all while challenging students to see the light in the midst of darkness.

Page’s passion for integrating faith, multicultural competence, and psychology training developed while completing undergraduate studies at Pepperdine University and was further fueled during graduate training at Rosemead School of Psychology. Her unwavering charge to return to a Christian graduate school community that values integrating faith into practice while also emphasizing mentorship of minoritized students in the clinical psychology field was fulfilled with her appointment at Regent.

Page’s love of mentorship is continually demonstrated through her roles as a niche mentor for students of color, faculty advisor to the Association of Black Psychologists’ Student Circle, and founder of the Academy of Minority Identity Development and Advocacy (AMIDA) research team. She enjoys reminding students that, regardless of the injustices they experience or the diverse identities they hold, the calling placed on their lives steadfastly remains. Nourishing her charge to intentionally mentor and train students in a faith community, regardless of the diverse identities held, has been a true treasure and a great reward.

37. Trish Barber
Senior Vice President of Marketing, Presidio Federal

Patricia (Trish) Barber is the Founder of 3WaysDigital, where she works with organizations that are going through a growth transition and need to rethink their marketing strategy and then transition a reinvented marketing operation to great in-house talent. Companies she’s worked with have just won a new contract, gone through a leadership change, received a grant, and launched a new product. Through this role, she served as the Senior Vice President of Marketing for Presidio Federal, a purpose-built and mission-driven IT services and solutions provider dedicated to serving the federal government. She spent the latter part of her career in leadership roles with companies during transitional periods of dramatic growth such as product launches, mergers, spinoffs, acquisitions, and large government projects. Her 20 years in the DMV led her to establish 3WaysDigital, enabling her to partner with companies, such as Presidio Federal, to establish marketing operations and strategy.

Barber believes in channeling her energy into the professional development of women and girls as evidenced by recent board positions with Women in Technology and STEM for Her. She studied Business Administration at the State University of New York and Northeastern University.

38. Michelle Stuntz
President, Consulting & Advisory Services, ZRG Partners, LLC

Michelle Stuntz is President of ZRG’s Consulting and Advisory Services practice. She is a global business leader with extensive domestic and international experience spanning multiple industries and topics. Stuntz brings a unique perspective to her position, having held leadership positions in Big Five Search and Big Four Consulting, as well as non-profit and international development organizations. She is a leader who is passionate about diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice, driving business outcomes, developing strong leaders who truly lead, and the success of working parents, especially mothers.

Prior to joining ZRG, Stuntz was the North American Consulting Consumer Industry Leader for Korn Ferry. She stepped into the role to build an effective commercial team, develop relationships for cross-selling, and drive larger account development. Under her leadership, the industry was the fastest growing in the firm. Prior to Korn Ferry, Stuntz spent eight years with Deloitte Consulting, most recently as a Senior Manager leading teams of over 100 employees and shaping large, transformation efforts with clients. Before consulting, she worked in the non-profit space for many years, including working with at-risk youth in inner-city schools with AmeriCorps, nonprofit development/fundraising, and working with communities in rural Zambia in the Peace Corps.

Stuntz holds a BA from The Ohio State University and an MPA from The LBJ School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin.

39. Summer Rain Ursomarso
Director of Marketing, BayWa r.e. Solar Systems

Summer Rain Ursomarso is the Director of Marketing for BayWa r.e. Solar Systems, a leading national distributor of solar and storage components. For the past 10 years,  Rain has used her roles in marketing to support her passion for local business development and environmental sustainability. 

She has held various marketing roles in the automotive, construction, and solar industries, all focusing on building up regional companies to serve local communities. She previously served as a marketing manager for Sun Tribe, and she held multiple roles with A.W. Hastings & Co., including marketing program specialist and marketing program coordinator. Earlier in her career, she worked as the marketing coordinator for Union Park Automotive Group and as a manager’s assistant for Good Food Good People.

Rain holds a master’s degree in integrated marketing communications from West Virginia University and an undergraduate degree in graphic design from Bridgewater College.

40. Jenn Bushman
Director of Creative Services, Performance Foodservice

Jenn Bushman is the Director of Creative Services for Performance Foodservice at their corporate headquarters in Richmond. Performance is the second largest food service distributor in the U.S., serving more than 125,000 restaurants nationwide. There, she leads a talented team of graphic designers, outside vendors, and promotional agencies in creating digital and print collateral while ensuring all services are in compliance with brand execution requirements.

Bushman is an inspired creative director with an extensive history in the food and beverage industry with over 15 years of experience. She was the lead corporate graphic designer, marketing coordinator, and creative services manager at Reinhart Foodservice, working in La Crosse, Wis., and later Chicago for close to a decade. During her tenure there, Bushman was also a small business owner and sought-after artist, managing a successful community art studio and gallery in the area.

Bushman directs the creative work, fundamentals, and strategy of Performance Foodservice & Performance Food Group (PFG), while also managing production and design. Her team is responsible for translating corporate branding, building out and launching an enterprise-wide Digital Asset Management system, as well as collaborating on website development, video, and digital development related to PFG’s core platforms.

An accomplished cyclist, she has biked nearly five thousand miles while personally raising more than $12,000 dollars for the Children’s Cancer Research Fund. Bushman holds an undergraduate degree focused in fine studio arts and graphic design from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.

41. Zee Hill
Director of Human Resources, Clark Nexsen

As Director of Human Resources at Clark Nexsen, Zee Hill is responsible for leading the overall strategic direction, planning, administration, and of the human resources function. Her main focus areas include developing and implementing innovative approaches to enhance the employee experience, strengthen ongoing diversity and inclusion initiatives, and foster employee engagement.

With more than 20 years of experience, Hill is most passionate about designing an employee experience that extends across the entire employee lifecycle. Her experience includes successfully spearheading process improvement initiatives and building strong training and development programs that support employee growth and performance. She applies a consultative approach to coach and mentor employees to their full potential in the workplace.

Hill began her HR career in 1999 while serving in the U.S. Army and has since practiced human resources in a variety of industries with the most recent being government contracting for the maritime industry. By serving many years as an “HR department of one,” she has worked in all areas of HR, including recruiting, onboarding, employee relations, performance management, leadership training, and total rewards.

Certified as a Senior Professional Human Resource and SHRM Talent Acquisition Specialist, Hill is a veteran who served in the U.S. Army as an HR specialist and completed several deployments during her service. She earned an undergraduate degree in accounting from Saint Leo University, an associate degree in applied economics from Austin Peay University, and an MBA from Longwood University.

42. Kimberly Seay
Director of Medical Services US, Falck Global Assistance

Kimberly Seay is the Director of Medical Services at Falck Global Assistance for the U.S. office. Falck is a Nordic-based organization whose business reaches thirty-two countries on six continents. For over one hundred years, Falck’s mission has been to prevent accidents, respond to disease, respond to emergencies and rescue, and assist patients quickly and competently in their time of need. Seay is a dynamic nursing leader overseeing the U.S. medical team. This team is responsible for monitoring patients who get sick or injured during international travel. Seay describes her work as “a virtual emergency room with each day presenting unique challenges.” Cases range from a member getting crushed by an elephant to more common medical emergencies, such as strokes or heart attacks. Seay feels there is nothing more rewarding than being a patient’s lifeline and assuring them that she is there for them and understands their dire situation.

 She attended vocational school and became an LPN a few months after turning eighteen and returned to school while working full-time and raising her daughters. In 1995, She graduated magna cum laude from the prestigious Hampton University School of Nursing with her undergraduate degree in nursing. After an extensive career in hospital administration, she found her true passion in the international assistance industry in 2008. 

She has volunteered for numerous organizations and served on the board of directors for C&P Credit Union. She has had the opportunity to participate in providing care in countries and responding to natural disasters in places such as Honduras and Mexico City. She was selected to attend the Johns Hopkins Leadership Academy and continuously attends international travel, leadership, and medical conferences.

Seay has been featured in the Richmond Times Dispatch recognizing her unique career in nursing as “nurses who beat to a different drum.’ She has contributed to publications for USA Today, Travel Weekly, Travel Agency Central, and Pax Editions. Professionally, she feels her greatest achievement is building strong nursing teams in both the acute care and assistance industry.

43. Gretchen Abney
Campus Life Director, Life Pacific University

Gretchen Abney is the Campus Life Director at Life Pacific University in Christiansburg, Virginia. She has served in ministry for 27 years as a co-pastor and in other ministry roles. In addition, she serves the Foursquare Denomination as a member of the Atlantic District Council, and she is also the creator and coordinator of Cultivate, a seven-month Women in Ministry Leadership development program.

Abney believes in the sponsorship, development, and empowerment of leaders of every gender and generation. She has a bachelor of arts from Lee University and a Master of Arts in strategic leadership from Life Pacific University. In 2024, she is finalizing a PhD in organizational leadership from Southeastern University. She and her husband have three adult children.

44. Betsy Fowler
Director, Williamsburg Regional Library

Betsy Fowler is the Director of Williamsburg Regional Library. She has four decades of experience in managing, designing, and advocating for public libraries and has served as the key library liaison on seventeen new library building and renovation projects. In her role as Director since 2017, Fowler has been instrumental in the design and creation of a groundbreaking new children’s library incorporating the interactive learning experiences of a children’s museum. In 2018, her collaboration with the Dean of Libraries for the College of William & Mary led to a reciprocal borrowing and programming agreement, establishing a new cooperative model for college and public libraries.

During the pandemic, Fowler worked with library staff to create a mobile hotspot program to provide internet access across the community that was nationally emulated. As former director of libraries for the City of Chesapeake, she obtained a Congressional Earmark and Department of Labor Grant to establish a Workforce Development Initiative for Hampton Roads that served thousands during the 2008-2012 recession. Betsy’s success in leveraging powerful community collaborations led to her selection by the U.S. Department of State in 2012 as a Visiting Professional to work with Greek libraries in response to the country’s economic challenges.

Fowler is the recipient of the Virginia Public Relations Award for marketing public libraries, the Chesapeake City Manager Award, and the Virginia Library Staff Person of the Year Award. She is passionate about the power of public libraries to change lives and to help build resilient and healthy communities. She received her MMLS degree from The Catholic University of America.

45. Jenny Maugeri
Executive Director, Atlantic Shores Retirement Community

Jenny Maugeri serves as Executive Director for Atlantic Shores Retirement Community, a 100-acre campus in Virginia Beach, Virginia, featuring over 550 independent living apartment and villa homes, a 52-apartment assisted living community, a 14-bed Memory Care unit, and a 50-bed skilled nursing facility. In 2020, the Board of Directors at Atlantic Shores and Life Care Services, the nation’s leading management firm for continuing care communities, appointed Maugeri to the role of Executive Director and tasked her with the unique responsibility of continuing to lead the community through the pandemic while positioning Atlantic Shores to ensure financial growth and long-term stability. In this role, Maugeri leads her staff to create a well-organized, highly efficient, and positive team-focused environment where employees love to work and residents desire to live.

Maugeri has a Bachelor of Business Administration in accounting from Radford University.

46. Jennifer Pryor
Program Director, Virginia Commonwealth University

Jennifer Pryor is the Graduate Program Director for the Department of Gerontology at Virginia Commonwealth University. She also serves as the Co-Director for the NAB-accredited assisted living administration specialty area within the Master of Science in Gerontology program where she is an instructor, advisor, and supervisor to students who are in pursuit of their license as an assisted living administrator. At the undergraduate level, Pryor serves as the Director of Service Learning for the Bachelor of Science in Health Services program in the College of Health Professions where she also teaches and works with students to develop their skills in healthcare management. Finally, at the national level, Pryor serves as the Vice Chair of the Education Committee with the National Association of Long-Term Care Administrator Boards (NAB). To support her work in all of these roles, she maintains a valid Virginia License in Assisted Living Administration.

Her personal and professional goal is to challenge the paradigm of the long-term care continuum and promote innovation and development in the long-term care sector to foster inclusiveness, community, and awareness of ageism. She speaks and trains at the national, state, and local levels on topics related to ageism in long-term care, assisted living administration, best practices in assisted living, and leadership. Her research and educational areas of interest include long-term care organizations with a particular emphasis on the assisted living sector; administration, management, and leadership in long-term care; education and training for the long-term care workforce; ageism and ableism in long-term care practice; and best practices in long-term care administration related to higher quality of life and higher quality of care for individuals living in these communities, especially as they relate to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. 

Pryor earned her undergraduate degree in psychology from Hollins University, a master’s degree in psychology from  William & Mary, and a master’s degree in gerontology from Virginia Commonwealth University. She is currently working on her PhD in health services organizations and research from Virginia Commonwealth University and expects to finish in 2024.

47. Donna Kunde
Global Radio Authority, Podcast Expert & Co-Founder, IBGR.Network

Donna Kunde is a podcast host and radio personality who has produced over 14,000 podcasts, while elevating businesses, with more than 430,000 downloads to date. She is the Co-Founder of IBGR.Network. IBGR. The Network offers internet-based live international broadcasts 24/7 that are hosted by seasoned business professionals and entrepreneurs. Their shows are recorded and available as podcasts and content is transcribed and published for free download.

With her own international business radio station and network, Kunde is amplifying more than 70 experts in 14 countries, reaching listeners in more than 180 countries, and delivering worldwide transformation, every single day. She is all about taking proven wisdom and applying it, 13 minutes at a time. In just 20 weeks, she turned that into a podcast and book titled Influencers Formula.

Kunde studied music therapy at Immaculata University and has received multiple certifications, including through the International Maxwell Certification as a Certified Coach, Speaker, & Educator in Personal Awareness and Self-Improvement and the Personality Insights Institute as a Certified Human Behavior Consultant.

48. Michele Del Gallo Castner
Executive Director of Elementary Education, Albemarle County Public Schools

Michele Del Gallo Castner is the Executive Director of Elementary Education at Albemarle County Public Schools in Charlottesville, Virginia. She started there as Principal in 2000, rising to Director of Education in 2017.  This is one of the most diverse school systems in the state, and under Castner’s leadership, Albemarle County Public Schools is working to end the predictive value of race, class, gender, and special capacities for children’s success through high-quality teaching and learning for all, seeking to build relationships with families and communities. 

Castner earned a master’s degree in educational leadership and administration from the University of Virginia. Among her multiple volunteer projects, she has worked with The Women’s Committee of Martha Jefferson Hospital and The Women’s Initiative, which provides women with effective counseling, social support, and education.

49. Loraine Upham
Senior Director of Business Operations & Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy Program Leader, ReAlta Life Sciences

Loraine Upham is the Senior Director of Business Operations and Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy Program Leader of ReAlta Life Sciences, a clinical-stage biotech company dedicated to saving lives by rebalancing the inflammatory response to address life-threatening acute inflammatory and rare diseases. Upham is a proven leader and technology strategist with over three decades of experience. She offers a unique combination of skills working with large and small teams and the ability to transform ideas into marketable products and viable companies.

Before joining ReAlta Life Sciences, Upham was a commercial account manager at AMRI and a production manager at LAD ENGINEERING LLC. Earlier in her career, she worked with Packard Biosciences as a product manager. Upham graduated from Arizona State University with an MBA and from the University of Pennsylvania with an undergraduate degree in molecular biology.

50. Cindy Petersen
Executive Director, Taubman Museum of Art

As Executive Director of the Taubman Museum of Art since 2018, Cindy Petersen leads the organization’s operational and strategic planning, institutional advancement, financial management, exhibitions, and community engagement teams. Her career pathway includes serving as Regional Director for Young Audiences of Virginia and project manager of an arts and literacy national research team. Prior to her work in the nonprofit area, she was involved in business development and management consulting throughout Europe for Bristol-Myers Squibb and Oracle. Combining her experience with an EdM from Harvard University and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, as well as her creative endeavors as a master-level tap dancer, Petersen provides a unique blend of international business and educational expertise, with a commitment and passion for the community and the arts.

In her leadership role at the museum, Petersen strives to achieve a visitor-centered participatory approach. Using exhibitions as a springboard for creating dynamic counterpart educational programming she partners with regional industry, nonprofits, and universities. Her innovative Learning Lab for Leaders combines artistic exploration with cognitive strategies to help strengthen outside-the-box thinking for business leaders. She was awarded a U.S. Department of State fellowship for Art, Culture, and Transforming Conflict, the Past Chair’s Tourism Excellence Award from Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge, and state-wide recognition for the Taubman Museum for innovation from the Virginia Association of Museums. Petersen currently serves on the board of the Dr. Robert L.A. Keeley Healing Arts Program at Carilion Clinic and the peer accreditation review team for the American Alliance of Museums.

As originally posted HERE.

Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center would like to congratulate all of the awardees!