Long hours. Little pay. Micromanagers who have been promoted beyond their ability. And that one coworker who just won’t… quit… talking. Bad jobs: We have all had them.

Perhaps the only positive news about poor work environments is that they often make you appreciate good ones. I’ve been fortunate in my career to have had far more good jobs than unpleasant ones, but one of my all-time favorites was my 7-year run as editor of this magazine, as well as Lynchburg Living and other area publications. So when Jennifer Redmond, the current editor, asked me to fill in for her while she took a much-deserved maternity leave, I readily said “yes.”

Jumping back in for this issue has been a pleasure, and I hope you enjoy reading this issue as much as I enjoyed working on it.

In the spirit of celebrating great work environments in Central Virginia, we present our inaugural “Best Places to Work” issue. Featured are 20 employee-nominated companies that offer engaging environments. From employee appreciation to work perks and flexibility, you will find that many themes run throughout the awarded companies. Among them, nearly every single nomination said something to the effect of, “We are treated like family.” It appears that each of these businesses has learned that a satisfying, productive team begins with a sense of care and belonging.
Flip to page 28 to read more about our Top 20 winners.

Great places to work also begin with leadership from the top down. Shauna Parsons is an example of a woman who knows how to steer the ship with care, influence, and just the right amount of reign. As the President of Evergreen Basement Systems and 2015 Athena Award winner, Parsons has learned a lot over the years from running her business, and that same theme of treating employees like family came up while answering questions for this issue’s Leading Lady profile.

“I love watching employees do something … that they didn’t know how to do before and now they excel at it. I watch with a little ‘Mom-Pride,’” Parsons explained. Read more about Parsons’ work and why she says she struck out on her own years ago on page 18.

Leadership in a new role can be tough enough under normal circumstances.

When your new gig is one that brings the two-fold pressure of the (often critical) public eye and the resurrection after the near-collapse of the very institution you are charged with leading, the stakes are considerably higher. But Phillip C. Stone isn’t the type to rattle easily. Learn about his goals as the new president of Sweet Briar College in his must-read Leader Profile beginning on page 14.

Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” I hope this “Best Places” inspires you to strive for greater excellence in whatever field you are in now, knowing that many companies in our area have also made it a habit.

Best,

Johanna Calfee, Guest Editor
P.S.-Please drop Jennifer a note of congratulations and encouragement as she embarks on life as a working mom of two little girls at Jennifer@lynchburgmag.com.