Women We Admire is pleased to announce The Top 50 Women Leaders of Virginia for 2023. Known for its diverse scenery, rich history, quality hospitals, and strong higher-education system, Virginia has taken great strides in helping to advance fields and industries in education, healthcare, construction, financial services, and life sciences. This year’s awardees are at the top of their respective professions, embodying the qualities needed for self-development and organizational success. In order to leave a lasting legacy, these women aren’t afraid of overcoming barriers and breaking the glass-ceiling.
Among this year’s awardees is Katherine Graham, President and Chief Executive Officer of Heritage Contracting, Katherine Graham. Graham is a rare find in the usually male-dominated construction industry, but under her leadership, the company’s annual revenue in the last 2 years reached over $50 million dollars in successful completed projects. Awardee Paula Ferrada, Division & System Chief for Acute Care Surgery and Trauma at Inova Health System, is the first Colombian woman to graduate from a general surgery program within the Harvard system and is an internationally recognized advocate for equity, diversity and inclusion. Patricia Titus, Chief Privacy and Information Security Officer of Markel, uses her 25 years of security management experience to transform, implement and maintain robust IT security programs for both the public and private sectors.
Please join us in celebrating the accomplishments of The Top 50 Women Leaders of Virginia for 2023.
1. Patricia Titus
Chief Privacy and Information Security Officer, Markel
Patricia Titus is the Chief Privacy and Information Security Officer at Markel Corporation, responsible for ensuring the security and privacy of the company’s information assets and the protection of customer information. With over 25 years of security management experience, she is recognized for transforming, implementing and maintaining robust IT security programs for both the public and private sectors.
Prior to Markel, Patricia served as CISO at Freddie Mac, Symantec, Unisys Corporation and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) of the US Department of Homeland Security. She also worked and lived overseas for several years in various positions within the US Department of Defense, the US State Department and various private sector firms.
Patricia currently serves on the board of directors of cybersecurity companies Black Kite and Forcepoint, and on the Executive Women’s Forum board of advisors, an organization aimed at attracting, retaining and advancing women in the information security, IT risk management and privacy industries. She was recognized as a Woman of Influence by the Executive Women’s Forum in 2009 and the Silicon Valley Business Journal in 2013. Patricia studied liberal arts and sciences from Lakewood Community College, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, University of Maryland Far East Division, and University of Maryland European Division.
2. Carolyn Devine Saint
Chief Audit Executive, University of Virginia
Carolyn Devine Saint is the Chief Audit Executive of the University of Virginia. Appointed in 2015, she is responsible for the leadership of the University Audit Department, an independent and objective assurance and consulting activity guided by a philosophy of adding value to improve the operations of the University of Virginia and the University of Virginia Health System. Saint is a member of the President’s Executive Cabinet and serves as a key leader in enhancing and protecting organizational value by providing risk based and objective assurance, advice, and insight.
During her time at the University of Virginia, Saint has revitalized the University Audit Department, refocusing its efforts toward delivering valued insights on the risks that matter most. She serves as a mentor in the Center for Leadership Excellence’s Cornerstone Program, and contributes to staff training and development through presentations at the Organizational Excellence Quality Core Network and other venues. Saint previously served as VP and chief audit executive for several multinational companies, including Sears Holdings, Lowe’s, and 7-Eleven. She began her career at Deloitte, serving clients in the manufacturing, healthcare, and not for profit sectors.
6. Menah Pratt
VP for Strategic Affairs & Diversity & Professor of Education, Virginia Tech
Menah Pratt, JD, PhD, is the Vice President for Strategic Affairs and Diversity and 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 11th 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, Dr. Pratt was selected as the 2021 Inclusive Excellence Individual Leadership Award recipient by the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education. Dr. Pratt 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, gender, and class in America, a biography about her mother, Dr. Mildred Pratt. A writer, poet, public speaker, creative artist, scholar-activist, academic advocate, and a blogger at www.menahpratt.com, her life’s work reflects a commitment to helping others actualize their potential to serve humanity.
7. 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, Jennifer 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, Jennifer 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.
Jennifer 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 8 years on the Virginia Beach Community Services board and on the YMCA JT's Camp Grom board.
Originally from Hampton, Virginia, Jennifer lives in Virginia Beach with her husband, Scot, and their dog, Fresca. She attended Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA and graduated with an undergraduate degree in business administration. Among her interests are traveling, reading and gardening.
8. Erika Hanafin Feldhus
Chief Executive Officer, HeyMama
Erika Hanafin Feldhus is a mom to one and joined HeyMama, a membership community for working moms, in 2021 as the Chief Executive Officer. Growing up in a family of successful CEOs, Erika was enriched with the intricate details of running a successful business through observation, higher education, and extensive experience.
Erika spent the past 15 years growing small businesses and in a variety of industries through her efforts in business development, research and data, and operations and revenue management. Throughout it all, she has discovered that a company’s culture defines its success. Both internally and externally, she is determined to build a healthy culture by compassionately raising women up through leadership, collaboration, philanthropy, and fundraising on a global level.
9. 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, Erin 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. Erin 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, Erin 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.
Erin is a graduate from Randolph-Macon College where she received her degree in business and economics and was a student athlete. Erin 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. Erin, her husband and two daughters live in Williamsburg, Virginia.
11. Katherine Graham
President and CEO, Heritage Contracting
Katherine Graham is the President and CEO of Heritage Contracting. She has over 15 years of construction knowledge in the male dominated industry. She contributes her leadership ability and dedication to her success in the field. Heritage Contracting is an 8(a), Woman Owned, Class "A" General Contractor firm - Chesapeake, VA that has provided a wide range of construction, operation and maintenance services to both private and Federal clients, from heavy civil and heavy industrial projects to ground-up construction and renovations. Katherine developed a deep understanding of all aspects of the construction business through her roles as an estimator, superintendent, and project manager prior to becoming President and CEO in 2006. Under the leadership of Katherine, their annual revenue in the last 2 years reached over $50 million dollars in successful completed projects.
Katherine sets the overall direction of Heritage Contracting. She focuses on advancing corporate innovation and developing Heritage Contracting's 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. She believes in treating everyone with dignity and respect. Katherine's advice is give generously and never stop learning.
View the complete list of awardees.
14. Paula Ferrada
Division & System Chief for Acute Care Surgery & Trauma, Inova Health System
Dr. Paula Ferrada currently serves as the Division and System Chief for Acute Care Surgery and Trauma for Inova Health System and continues to serve as an educator as well as a professor of Medical Education for the University of Virginia. She is a Colombian born female Surgeon-Leader and internationally recognized advocate for equity, diversity and inclusion.
Dr. Ferrada trained in general surgery at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. She is the first Colombian woman to graduate from a general surgery program within the Harvard system. She completed a fellowship in surgical critical care at the University of Pittsburgh and spent an additional year of fellowship training at Shock Trauma Center, University of Maryland as their first Acute Care Surgery Fellow.
After her training, Dr. Ferrada joined Virginia Commonwealth University as faculty, serving in different leadership roles including as a peer elected member of the Medical College of Virginia Physicians board. She served in the capacity of surgical critical care fellowship director and director of the surgical and trauma critical care units. Due to her clinical and leadership accomplishments, Dr. Ferrada rose rapidly to the rank of full Professor of Surgery at this institution.
Dr. Ferrada has received multiple teaching awards from Harvard medical students, and she was honored with two major awards from the Virginia Commonwealth University Medical School. She was inducted as a member of the Academy of Master Surgeon Educators, of the American College of Surgeons. She is an active member of the American College of Surgeons National Ultrasound Faculty. Internationally, Dr. Ferrada is the president-elect for the Pan-American Trauma Society.
Dr. Ferrada has been able to translate her passion into many research projects that in turn have improved patient care. She has over 110 papers published in peer-reviewed journals, is part of the editorial board for the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery, the main journal in her specialty. She is also an associate editor for the American Journal of Surgery and serves in the board for the Journal Surgery and the Journal of the American College of Surgeons. She has edited several books on the care of the traumatized patients. She has been able to secure funding form the Department of Defense and the Food and Drug Administration and has led multiple multicenter trials and practice guidelines for the management of acute care surgical patients.
15. Cate Lemmond
President & CEO, Anicira Veterinary Center
Cate Lemmond is the founding President and CEO of Anicira Veterinary Center. Since starting in 2005, Cate 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, Cate 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, Cate 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.
Cate 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. Cate is also a Certified Animal Welfare Administrator and a Certified Veterinary Practice Manager.
17. 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, Dr. 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 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration Evidence-based Model Program, National Cancer Institute Research Tested Intervention Program, 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.
18. 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, and 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, Virginia. She attended Roanoke College for her undergraduate degree and the University of Lynchburg for her master’s degree. Blair is married to Tommy Blair and they have five children and reside in Salem, Virginia. Blair serves on the boards of Visit Blue Ridge, Ridge View Bank, Carilion Clinic Foundation and North Cross School.
21. 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, Karfias focuses on navigating the complex and evolving world of fintech legal and compliance requirements and enabling responsible speed to 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. Karfias 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 help 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. Aurelia Taylor Williams
Vice Provost, Executive Director & Professor, Norfolk State University
Aurelia Taylor Williams is the Vice Provost for Academic and Faculty Affairs, Executive Director of the Cybersecurity Complex and Professor of Computer Science at Norfolk State University (NSU). 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. 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.
Dr. 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, Dr. Williams 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.
30. Lindsey Worrix
Director of Program/Project Management, Elevance Health
Lindsey Worrix 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. Ms. 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. Currently, Ms. Worrix is the Director of Program and Project Management for 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.
Lindsey resides in Midlothian, VA with her husband and son. She is an active member of the Junior League of Richmond, whose mission is “Women Supporting Women.”
View the complete list of awardees.
31. Kristen Patz
Principal Engagement Director, Salesforce
Kristen Patz 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. Kristen currently serves as a Principal Engagement Director for Salesforce.
Ms. 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. Kristen graduated from Marymount University with an undergraduate degree in fashion merchandising and management marketing and with an MBA in marketing management.
32. 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, 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.
Emily 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, Emily 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.
33. Cassandra Page
Director of Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology & Associate Professor, 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 love of mentorship is continually demonstrated through her roles as faculty advisor to the Association of Black Psychologists’ Student Circle, founder of the Academy of Minority Identity Development and Advocacy (AMIDA) research team, faculty advisor to the Multicultural Clinic, and director of Regent University’s APA accredited PsyD Program. She enjoys reminding students that, regardless of 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 diverse identities held, has been a true treasure and great reward.
34. Dainan Gibson
Director of Business Development , ECS Mid-Atlantic
Being an accomplished business leader there are countless marketing professionals that Dainan 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. Dainan’s 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, Dainan 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.
Dainan 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.
35. 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 foodservice distributor in the US, 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 & 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 arts studio & 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.
36. 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, Summer 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.
Summer Rain holds a master’s degree in integrated marketing communications from West Virginia University and an undergraduate degree in graphic design from Bridgewater College.
37. Petula Burks
Director of Strategic Communications & Civic Engagement, City of Richmond
Petula Burks currently serves as the Director of Strategic Communications and Civic Engagement for the City of Richmond. She is an award-winning and skilled PR and crisis communication professional with over 20 years of experience in state and local government helping to advance positive narratives, combat negative stereotypes, proactively generate media, and build civic partnerships through purposeful engagement.
Prior to joining the City of Richmond in 2022, Petula served as chief of staff in two different cities as well as served as the director of PR and communications for the Greater Sacramento Economic Council, the director of the Center for Public Affairs for the Washington State Department of Health, and the public affairs director for the City of Miami Gardens. She has also shared her talents with the Georgia Department of Transportation, the City of Fort Lauderdale, Miami-Dade County, the Athens-Area Chamber of Commerce, Lake Lanier Islands Resort, and the City of Augusta.
Throughout her professional journey, Petula has engaged communities, helped restructure organizations, advised organizational leaders, handled million-dollar budgets and campaigns, and introduced new and innovative communications strategies to change how communities are perceived. She is a sought-after speaker and presenter who enjoys sharing her experiences and expertise.
Petula is a certified chief of staff and holds professional memberships in the Chief of Staff Association, Richmond’s Professional Women for Good, New Leaders Council (Sacramento Class, 2019), Public Relations Society of America, the International Association of Women, and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. She is a proud graduate of Brenau University where she studied communications and broadcast journalism. A forever learner, Petula is currently enrolled at Syracuse University studying public relations management.
She was selected as one of Broward County’s 40 Under 40 Most Influential African Americans by Legacy Magazine, named a Woman of the Year by the National Association of Professional Women, selected as one of Miami-Dade County’s 50 Most Powerful Leaders by MIA Magazine, named to 2019 Who’s Who list, and most recently named one of 2022 Power Women in the State of Georgia. In her spare time, she is an adoption and foster care advocate and is helping raise awareness through her personal storytelling arm called “the adoption chronicles” – where she shares her personal adoption story and other narratives to help parents, children, and forever families.
View the complete list of awardees.
38. 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. Taylor is a licensed professional counselor in the state of Virginia. She oversees the Psychiatry program at Thriveworks that is based out of 25+ states. Taylor 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.
Taylor 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, one-on-one therapy, and 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.
39. Sunni Brown
Director of Media and Public Relations, University of Richmond
Sunni Brown, Director of Media and Public Relations, spends her days pitching faculty experts to national media to advance the recognition and academic reputation of the University of Richmond. Brown's media relations efforts have resulted in placements in The New York Times, TIME, Scientific American, National Geographic, Newsweek, and more.
Sunni previously served as the media spokesperson for the Virginia DMV and was an anchor and reporter at two Virginia television stations. She also has expertise in both health-related and crisis communications. She is a regular contributor to Richmond Family Magazine and has presented at numerous state and national conferences, including the College Communicators Association, CASE, and P-World. She also co-hosts workshops for faculty at UR on media training and effective communications. Brown serves on the board of Virginia Professional Communicators.
40. Gabrielle D. Pina
Director of Academic Communications/PR & Associate Professor, Virginia State University
Gabrielle Pina is a poignant and masterful storyteller and is viewed as “the writer to look out for.” She is currently a doctoral student at Adler University studying organizational leadership with an emphasis on Social Justice. Pina, via Random House, has published two novels Bliss and Chasing Sophea. She has also written two biographies Bucking the Line, an authorized biography of the Clougherty family, the founders of the Farmer John brand, and A Mirror and A Prayer, an authorized biography about Gina Rivera, the founder of Phenix Salon Suites. Her award-winning play Letters from Zora: In Her Own Words has been touring for nearly a decade. Since then, she has written Dreaming of Harlem Under A High Southern Sky, Someone to Watch Over Me a riveting innovative work about the prolific life of Ella Fitzgerald, and Uncommon Revelations all of which have premiered at theaters across the country.
Pina is currently the Director of Academic Communications/Public Relations and Associate Professor of Languages and Literature at Virginia State University. She is also hard at work on her third novel, A Season for Hummingbirds in addition to her dissertation On Our Own: How Low Levels of Social Capital Influence Psychological Resiliency in Africa America Women. Pina delivers lectures on the Harlem Renaissance, teaches master classes on writing at various colleges and universities across the country, and consults with organizations on ethical and inclusive leadership, DEI strategies, corporate training, and social justice initiatives.
42. Zee Hill
Director of Human Resources, Clark Nexsen
As Director of Human Resources, Zee Hill is responsible for leading the overall strategic direction, planning, administration, of the human resources function at Clark Nexsen. 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, Zee is most passionate about designing an employee experience that extends across the entire employee lifecycle. Her experience includes successfully spearheading the 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.
Zee began her HR career in 1999 while serving in the US 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, Zee is a veteran who served in the US Army as a 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 is nearing completion of her MBA program from Longwood University.
43. Kimberly Seay
Director of Medical Services US, Falck Global Assistance
Kimberly Seay is the Director of Medical Services at Falck Global Assistance for the US 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, disease, respond to emergency situations and rescue, assist patients quickly and competently in their time of need. Kimberly is a dynamic nursing leader overseeing the US medical team. This team is responsible for monitoring patients who get sick or injured during international travel. Kimberly 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 the more common medical emergencies such as strokes or heart attacks. Kimberly 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.
Kimberly has an extensive career in hospital administration but found her true passion in the international assistance industry in 2008. She has created a culture within her staff that encompasses providing compassionate care through professional experience and expertise. She knows that an effective leader creates an environment that allows for growth, questions and being receptive to innovative ideas. As a leader, she finds satisfaction in watching her teammates advance and shine.
Kimberly’s passion for nursing developed at the early age of seven when she dedicated her time to helping a young neighbor suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. Despite being a young mother herself, Kimberly attended vocational school and became an LPN a few months after turning eighteen. She returned to school, while working full time and raising her daughters. In 1995, Kimberly graduated magna cum laude from the prestigious Hampton University School of Nursing with her undergraduate degree in nursing.
Kimberly 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 John Hopkins Leadership Academy and continuously attends international travel, leadership, and medical conferences.
Kimberly has been featured in the Richmond Times Dispatch recognizing her unique career in nursing “nurses who beats to a different drum.’ She has contributed to publications for USA Today, Travel Weekly, Travel Agency Central and Pax Editions. Professionally, Kimberly feels her greatest achievement is building strong nursing teams in both the acute care and assistance industry.
44. Gretchen Abney
Campus Life Director, Life Pacific University
Gretchen Abney has served in ministry for 27 years as a co-pastor and in other ministry roles. In 2021, Gretchen became the Campus Life Director at Life Pacific University in Christiansburg, Virginia. In addition, she serves the Foursquare Denomination as a member of the Atlantic District Council. Gretchen is also the creator and coordinator of Cultivate, a 7-month Women in Ministry Leadership development program.
Gretchen believes in the sponsorship, development, and empowerment of leaders of every gender and generation. She graduated with an undergraduate degree in human growth and development and a master’s degree in strategic leadership. Currently, Gretchen is finalizing a PhD in organizational leadership from Southeastern University. Gretchen and her husband Trey have three young-adult children, Christian, Colin, and Caroline.
45. Megan Deleon
Director of Supply Chain, Aery Aviation
Megan Deleon holds exceptional expertise and experience in logistics management with capabilities in over-sighting protocols to manage dynamic business fluctuations domestically and internationally. She currently serves as the Director of Supply Chain for Aery Aviation. Megan has demonstrated understanding of complex international routing (both inbound and outbound), including processes and documentation required to manage end-to-end models. She excels in understanding regulatory conditions, rules, and regulations to manage logistics flows.
Prior to joining Aery Aviation, Megan briefly served with Soliel, LLC as a military analyst. Before that, she served with LMI as an aviation logistics consultant before moving on to become a supply chain consultant. Megan earned an undergraduate degree in project management and a master’s degree in logistics and supply chain management, both from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
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46. Ashley Marks
Clinical Director, Clementine Twin Lakes
Ashley Marks is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker supporting individuals, couples, and families with a focus on complex family dynamics, trauma, eating disorders, mood disorders, anger management, emotional dysregulation, abuse, anxiety, depression, attachment, learning disabilities, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and posttraumatic stress disorder. Ashley additionally specializes in work with parents, including biological parents, foster parents, and kin-caregivers. She provides strengths-based, trauma-informed care utilizing models such as cognitive behavioral therapy, cognitive processing therapy, collaborative problem solving, systems theory, functional family therapy, and family systems therapy.
Through Ashley’s time providing services to those in the community, she developed a passion for supporting other mental health providers and advocating for strategies to reduce employee burnout in the field. She has supervised mental health providers in a variety of capacities, presently working as the Clinical Director at Clementine Twin Lakes, a residential facility focused on treating adolescents with eating disorders. Ashley continues to be a strong advocate for high quality client care alongside leadership that promotes the well-being, clinical growth, and support of all who work to provide these services to individuals and families.
47. Betsy Fowler
Director, Williamsburg Regional Library
Betsy Fowler has four decades of experience in managing, designing, and advocating for public libraries. She has served as the key library liaison on seventeen new library building and renovation projects. In her role as the Williamsburg Regional Library Director since 2017, Betsy 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, Betsy’s 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, Betsy 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, Betsy 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 US Department of State in 2012 as a Visiting Professional to work with Greek libraries in response to the country’s economic challenges.
Betsy 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.
48. 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, Jennifer 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, Jennifer 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, Jennifer maintains a valid Virginia License in Assisted Living Administration.
Jennifer’s 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. Jennifer's 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. Jennifer earned her undergraduate degree in psychology from Hollins University, a master’s degree in psychology from the College of William and 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.
49. 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.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, Donna is amplifying more than 70 experts in 14 countries, reaching listeners in more than 180 countries, and delivering worldwide transformation, every single day. Donna 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.
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