Millennials on the Move 2016

In collaboration with our community partners, Lynchburg Business launched the search for this year’s Top 20 back in May with the purpose of finding the up-and-coming young professionals in the Greater Lynchburg region. The top “20 Under 40” Millennials on the Move represent the best that our region has to offer in young, innovative, creative and motivated talent. And this year’s top 20 class does not disappoint as it includes a diverse group of young professionals, ranging from entrepreneurs to city planners, educators, journalists and more! Individuals were evaluated on their professional experience above all else in addition to their community investments. In a nutshell, the top 20 are those individuals who consistently strive to better themselves and those around them in their places of work and beyond.


THE EVENT

The second annual celebration was held on September 7 at the Academy Center of the Arts, our event host. Delicious catering was provided by Kathleen O’Byrne’s Irish Tearoom and Cater This Events; Aztec Rentals kindly provided linens for the event. Many thanks to our community sponsor, the Young Professionals of Central Virginia, and our community partners, Opportunity Lynchburg and the Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance.


Top 20 Under 40

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Aaron Van Allen

Aaron Van Allen
BIO: District Representative and Service Academy Coordinator for Rep. Bob Goodlatte (VA-6th). Aaron graduated from “The” Hampden-Sydney College in 2013 with a B.A. in Government and a minor in Public Service. He interned with the Virginia Manufacturers Association and the Danville District Office of Rep. Robert Hurt (VA-5th). In 2015, he completed his M.A. in Public Policy from Liberty University and has been working for Rep. Goodlatte since 2013. He is currently a member of the Lynchburg Morning Rotary Club and holds the President-Elect/Secretary position for the 2016-2017 year.

So far in my career, I am most proud of… the outreach made by the Congressman’s Lynchburg office. Americans often feel disconnected from the federal government; many citizens believe Members of Congress, and their staff, only go to Washington for votes and then go home—they’re completely unaware of the non-legislative casework aspect pertinent to Congressional District Offices. I’m always proud to hear when someone in the community says, “I heard of the services you offered a friend; can you help me?” I want constituents to know that, even when we cannot offer direct assistance, the Congressman is here to help with any federal agency issues.

Over the next five years… I can only hope to be a scratch golfer… or at least get away from the trees and squirrels. But in all seriousness, I simply want to focus on being a good person. Being a good person makes a good individual; a good individual makes a good spouse; a good spouse makes a good teammate, and a good teammate makes a better community.

My inspiration and motivation come from… my parents and my fiancée. My mother and father married young and worked extraordinarily hard to provide my brothers and sister with lives better than what they experienced. And if you want to know tough, you should meet my fiancée Kathleen. She pushes me and makes me a better man—even the times I don’t like it.

Something not many people know about me is that… I’m a huge Thomas Jefferson and James Madison nerd. James Madison sat on the founding Board of Trustees at Hampden-Sydney College, but I digress.


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Emelyn Gwynn

Emelyn Gwynn
BIO: Main Street Coordinator for the Town of Altavista. Emelyn studied at Lynchburg College, where she received a B.A. in Communication Studies and won the Ester Cutler Thomas Outstanding Student in Speech Communication award. Emelyn interned as a field organizer for the 22nd District House of Delegates campaign and the Lynchburg City Council campaign. She then went on to intern for the Office of Economic Development for the City of Lynchburg, and under their mentorship, moved to her current position in Altavista.

So far in my career, I am most proud of… adapting myself to a new community. It takes a lot of time to meet community members, to understand the needs of the community and to get a feel for the unique spirit of the community. Every day, I strive to create the best opportunities that will ensure the optimal success for the locality.

Over the next five years… I hope to still be working in a position that gives back to the community and increases the quality of life for everyone. I want to expand my entrepreneurial experience and education to be able to better fulfill this role. I also want to be able to slow down sometimes and enjoy the outdoors, traveling and my lifelong hobby of photography.

My inspiration and motivation come from… my grandmother, who is my biggest inspiration and cheerleader. This year she turned 95 years young and has even made an imprint in Lynchburg, as she graduated from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College back in 1943. My grandmother was a large part of my youth, and sparked my interest in politics, because she always taught me the importance of ensuring the well-being, health and happiness of others.

Something not many people know about me is that… I’ve always been fascinated by politics, but it wasn’t until college that my fascination itemized local politics. I have the dream to one day be elected as a local official; I even have my computer login set to “Gwynn4Council” to help motivate me every day.


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Bethany Hill

Bethany Hill
BIO: Director of Little Wings Preschool at HumanKind. Bethany started with the school in 2008 when she joined the organization as a Lead Teacher and then became the Director in March of 2010. Under her leadership the preschool became the first High Scope Certified Center in Virginia.

She also serves as the Public Policy Chair of the Greater Lynchburg Chapter of the Virginia Association for Early Childhood Education.

So far in my career, I am most proud of… helping my staff become certified teachers in the High Scope Curriculum and then leading Little Wings to become Virginia’s first High Scope Certified Center.

Over the next five years… we are currently expanding our preschool with an after school program, and I look forward to other ways of possibly expanding our program such as serving infants and toddlers in the future.

My inspiration and motivation come from… the Lord. He is my center and everything stems from my relationship with Him. My husband, Andrew Hill, is also my anchor and holds me steady along with my three boys, who are a ton of fun and my constant joy.

Something not many people know about me is that… I would really love to take my passion for early childhood education on the mission field and help children across the world reach their full potential. And I play the guitar!


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Lauren Bennett

Lauren Bennett
BIO: Director of Communications & Experience for Collaborative Health Partners and the CVFP Medical Group. Prior to her current role with CHP and CVFP, Lauren served as the Community Outreach Coordinator for The Orthopaedic Center of Central Virginia. She is an active member of the WorkHealthy Lynchburg Committee, has previously served as Director of Public Relations for the Lynchburg Regional Society for Human Resource Management and is a recent Past President of the Junior League of Lynchburg. She is a Virginia Tech graduate and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Nutrition, Foods and Exercise.

So far in my career, I am most proud of… taking two basic concepts—empathy and compassion—and converting them into memorable patient experiences. Training care teams to tap their God-given abilities to bless those around them (patients, coworkers, loved ones) and creating a culture where everybody is made to feel like somebody.

Over the next five years… I want to be a relevant and recognized leader in the patient experience industry, motivating and inspiring people to make the world a little better right where they are.

My inspiration and motivation come from… a heartfelt desire to love and serve others. For me, it’s not so much about the job or position as it is about serving and loving the people with whom I interact.

Something not many people know about me is that… I love interior design, rearranging furniture and all things farmhouse chic.


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Elise Spontarelli

Elise Spontarelli
BIO: Owner/Designer of GetCreative Web Design and Executive Director of Vector Space. As a business owner, Elise works with local and regional businesses to create and maintain beautiful and effective websites. Vector Space is a nonprofit makerspace in downtown Lynchburg, where Elise facilitates community partnerships, teaches hands-on skills and celebrates all forms of making. She also enjoys volunteering with the Junior League of Lynchburg, The Motherhood Collective and the Randolph College Nursery School.

So far in my career, I am most proud of… the community space that we’re creating. I love knowing that my kids will grow up watching my husband and I build things and dedicate ourselves to this organization that we believe in. Being part of a
space that inspires and encourages both children and adults to keep learning and keep pushing limits is exciting and rewarding.

Over the next five years… I would love to see the Lynchburg community embrace Vector Space and for it to be a thriving makerspace. Part of the joy (and fear) of this organization is that we’re not steering it. Our members and students all have input, and future investments will be shaped by their wants and needs. The tools we purchase and the classes we offer are all based on feedback from within.

My inspiration and motivation come from… spending time at Vector Space; it is impossible to spend time there and not be inspired. I continue to meet new people with all kinds of knowledge to share and am always learning to use new tools (metal lathe, anyone?). With each new skill comes new ideas and ways to improve my life, the space, our city and the world. My motivation is to help as many people as possible feel the rush of learning something new and accomplishing something they didn’t think they could do.

Something not many people know about me is that… I enjoy really corny puns. I am not above even the lamest jokes and will laugh at pretty much any attempt at humor.


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Carl Matice

Carl Matice
BIO: Co-founder, co-owner, and manager of Altus Chocolate, where he enjoys crafting new products from the high-grade cacao they import. Carl is a member of the Lynchburg Morning Rotary Club, a board member of a non-profit camp, and is actively involved in Downtown Lynchburg through his position on the parking authority board and various roles in the downtown business community. He also enjoys being active in the greater Lynchburg area business community through his positions on the Small Business Committee and the Chamber Ambassador team. He was recently nominated by his peers as one of the region’s “Small Business of the Year” nominees through the Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance.

So far in my career, I am most proud of… together with my wife Mary, developing a thriving, fun business that cares about people and gives back to the community.

Over the next five years… I am hoping to successfully launch a couple of new stores and to help downtown businesses thrive through the difficult transitions that the new downtown renovation will bring.

My inspiration and motivation come from… my wife, who is full of creativity and life and is always making our business look amazing, and other business owners in Lynchburg who are constantly working to make Lynchburg a thriving place to live, work and play.

Something not many people know about me is that… I am a huge Star Wars nerd. I am so excited that I get a new Star Wars movie every year now!


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Kate Sigler

Kate Sigler
BIO: Director of Administration for Virginia Legal Aid Society, Inc., managing the organization’s finances and budget, policy development and compliance, human resources, technology, facilities and records. Kate is a graduate of the University of Virginia and has previously served as the Director of Business Operations for the Council of Independent Colleges in Virginia, as the Practice Administrator of the Northern Virginia Tax Practice of KPMG LLP, and as the Deputy Director of the Office of Advisory Committees and in the Deputy Secretary’s Office for the U.S. Department of Commerce. Kate serves as the Vice President of the Miriam’s House Board of Directors, serves as a vestry member, Sunday School teacher, and flower guild member at St. John’s Episcopal Church, and is a member of the Lynchburg Garden Club.

So far in my career, I am most proud of… my early career at the U.S. Department of Commerce; there I was fortunate to have many amazing experiences such as travelling to Kuwait and dining with the President of Colombia; however, what I am most proud of is finally being in a position where my strengths and talents support our advocates in improving the lives of some of the least fortunate in our community.

Over the next five years… I would like to see homelessness for women and children eradicated in our communities. It is one of my greatest honors to be a part of that effort through Miriam’s House and the tremendous work they do.

My inspiration and motivation come from… my family. If I become half the person that my parents are, I will be proud. My parents are amazing role models and taught me to work hard and follow my dreams. I am also motivated by my two sons—Worth and Will. I hope to teach them through my actions to give back to their community. We are extremely blessed and should give our time, love and money to helping others.

Something not many people know about me is that… I met my husband in 5th grade Sunday School, and he told his mother that night that he met the girl he was going to marry.


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Anthony Andrews

Anthony Andrews
BIO: Founder and Co-Owner of “Twenty23,” a Men’s Haberdashery, and a 13-year veteran and Master Firefighter with the Lynchburg Fire Department.

Anthony is also a childcare provider at Elizabeth’s Early Learning Center and teaches with the Young Entrepreneurs Academy through the Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance. He coaches youth basketball through Parks & Recreation and is on the Board of Directors for the Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance. Anthony was also a recipient of the F.M. “Dink” Cloyd Memorial Award for outstanding service.

So far in my career, I am most proud of… the smile on my mom’s face when she sees me drive a fire engine. She still brags on me after all this time, and so I always think about how to keep her smiling.

Over the next five years… I will continue to work on my magnum opus, which is to launch and grow a preschool. I believe in early childhood education; I vouch for it, and I have seen the power that it holds. That is my purpose and my passion.

My inspiration and motivation come from… the kids who live in College Hill, Diamond Hill and Daniel’s Hill who have a vision but are bound by their circumstances. I was one of those kids. They inspire me to keep pushing forward and to not let my surroundings or my race be my excuse.

Something not many people know about me is that… I love model railroading. My uncle worked for Norfolk Southern Railway,
and I always wanted to build an HO scale layout with him.


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Rebekah Moody

Rebekah Moody
BIO: Owner and founder of Southern Provisions Company. In six short years, Rebekah has grown her business from her in-home workroom to a retail space in Boonsboro to now, most recently, a 4,000-square-foot midtown retail and design center.

So far in my career, I am most proud of… the relationships we have within Southern Provisions Company. I love our team. They allow me to do what I do best, and, in return, I hope I allow them the space, freedom and security to do what they do best. They inspire me and believe in me; they give me a solid platform to be myself (which can be a bit crazy). People often ask me how I do it all—I don’t.

Over the next five years… I have big goals; however, I have recently suffered through a few hard blows, so I don’t want to go about carelessly saying what I want to accomplish. For now, I think the best thing for me to say is: stay tuned…shop local…believe in local…without our clients’ continued support and cheerleading, small business owners like myself have nothing but our dreams.

My inspiration and motivation come from… family, chocolate and baked goods! Usually starting with the latter!
My husband is my biggest advocate and closest friend. Owning a business is not all fun and games, and he is the one who picks me up and sends me back out day after day.

Something not many people know about me is that… I owned four Volkswagens at the same time in my twenties, including a bright yellow 1971 Super Beetle.


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Jessica Hupp

Jessica Hupp
BIO: Business Programs Coordinator of the Bedford County Office of Economic Development. Jessica has served as Board Secretary for Bedford Main Street since 2014, serves on the Bedford-Franklin Regional Rail Initiative committee, provides support to the Bedford County Economic Development Authority and Agricultural Economic Development Advisory Board, and spearheads the state award-winning Bedford One Program which links high school students with local businesses based on their career interests.

So far in my career, I am most proud of… my work with the Bedford One Program. Every year we see more students with a better understanding of what they would like to do with their future and students who turned the opportunity of touring a business into a job/internship. Seeing those results makes the hard work of organizing the program so rewarding.

Over the next five years… I would like to become a Certified Economic Developer; I love the idea of becoming an expert in the field or earning my master’s degree (maybe both!). I want to always be absorbing as much knowledge and experience as possible for the next five years and the rest of my life.

My inspiration and motivation come from… waking up and knowing that what I do every day really does make a positive
difference in the lives of others: from students I meet, businesses I talk to, and business owners who create jobs for people who need them. And the positive reinforcement and support from my family and mentors.

Something not many people know about me is that… I’m an avid baker; I find it relaxing, and the process of trial and error improves patience. Plus, it’s something I get to share with others, and I get to taste the fruits of my labor when I’m done!


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Tanya Fischoff

Tanya Fischoff
BIO: Marketing Analyst at Consolidated Shoe Company. Tanya serves alongside a team of marketers who value innovation, communication and, of course, awesome shoes. Most recently, Tanya was quoted in articles by Shoe Retailing Today, the Roanoke Times, and publications by VAMP Footwear and the Fashion Footwear Association of New York. Her community involvement includes six years on the board of the Young Professionals of Central Virginia—two as chair— and is dedicated to cultivating a young and vibrant professional community. Tanya also served two terms on the executive board of the Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance.

So far in my career, I am most proud of… my focus on growth. Growth in my knowledge, my network and growth in building opportunity. In the last five years, I have multiplied my exposure to different niches of marketing to develop an always-expanding skillset. Each day I discover something new.

Over the next five years… my career objective is to seize my strengths. I aim to hone my skillset and build on the niches I’ve developed. This is an exciting next chapter; I’m anxious to refine and grow.

My inspiration and motivation come from… the everyday little things, which is simple but true. A reply from a hard-to-reach editor, a checked off project on my to-do list, an encouraging smile from my hubby, even a new bloom on my peace lily. Plus, of course, a new pair of shoes!

Something not many people know about me is that… I’ve competed in several local amateur salsa competitions and love to ballroom dance. Why walk when you can waltz?


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Geoff Kershner

Geoff Kershner
BIO: Executive Director at the Academy Center of the Arts. Geoff is the founder of Endstation Theatre Company, now in its 10th year, and remains on their board. He served on faculty at Lynchburg College prior to his time at the Academy and is a member of the Lynchburg Morning Rotary Club and the United Way’s Community Impact Committee. Geoff received the Vice Mayor’s Award of Excellence and was selected for the National Arts Strategies Chief Executive program in 2015.

So far in my career, I am most proud of… my work building the Endstation Theatre Company. The company is in its 10th year and has contributed greatly to the cultural life of the greater Lynchburg community.

Over the next five years… I will continue to shepherd the Academy Center of the Arts into a new era. We will strive to transform our community through arts and culture, by improving, expanding and developing our programs and their reach. With the addition of the historic theatre in 2018, the possibilities are limitless.

My inspiration and motivation come from… my beautiful and talented wife [Ashley, also a 2016 honoree] and my incredible and selfless parents. I am also inspired by leaders and mentors in my life, some serving on the Academy’s board right now, teachers from my time at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and Florida State University, and members of the Philadelphia theatre community.

Something not many people know about me is that… I am a quarter Japanese. As a child, I was introduced to Japanese cuisine and customs through my Japanese grandmother, who lived in our home on the beautiful Sweet Briar College campus where I grew up.


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Ashley Kershner

Ashley Kershner
BIO: Executive Director for Lynch’s Landing, Lynchburg’s downtown revitalization organization. Ashley was the Communications and Box Office Director for Endstation Theatre Company for 5 years. Then, as the Marketing and Development Coordinator for Lynchburg Parks and Recreation Department, she secured and executed a $81,000 federal grant for the Lynchburg Community Market and created the “Lynchburg is for Locavores” campaign. Ashley also started Food Truck Thursdays and initiated the now popular Movies in the Park events. She has worked with the Young Professionals of Central Virginia, the Diamond Hill Historic District, Grassroots Local Market, and the Academy Center of the Arts.

So far in my career, I am most proud of… developing Food Truck Thursdays, which helped to introduce people from all over our city to Miller Park and to midtown. Watching a very diverse group of people come together every Thursday to celebrate fantastic local food in one of our city’s most beautiful but underutilized parks made me incredibly happy.

Over the next five years… I hope to foster innovation, collaboration and positive change in Downtown Lynchburg. It is an exciting time in Downtown, with fast-paced growth thanks to the hard work of so many. Over the next five years, my goal is to help Downtown realize its full potential as the thriving urban heart of our city.

My inspiration and motivation come from… having lived all over the country, [and so] I can truly say that Lynchburg is a special place. The natural beauty, the people, the sense of community in our city are all unique, and I am grateful to call Lynchburg my home. My motivation comes from the desire to help improve the city and to help others see what I see in Lynchburg.

Something not many people know about me is that… I spent some time cooking at a vegan restaurant in Philadelphia and had the opportunity to cook at the James Beard House in Manhattan.


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Tim Saunders

Tim Saunders
BIO: Lynchburg Bureau Chief for WDBJ7. Since starting with WDBJ7 in 2006, Tim has been honored with two Emmy awards and recently won an Edward R. Murrow award for his individual work on the coverage of Sweet Briar College’s possible closing in 2015 from the Radio Television Digital News Association. Tim is an adjunct instructor in the Communication Studies department at Lynchburg College, where he also serves as an advisor to The Critograph student newspaper. Prior to joining WDBJ7, Tim worked at WHSV-TV in Harrisonburg for three years as a weekend anchor, producer and reporter. A native of Bedford County, Tim landed his first job in broadcasting at age 17 when he was hired to edit video for Roanoke’s WSLS-TV.

So far in my career, I am most proud of… my coverage of Sweet Briar College in 2015. Thanks to good timing and a well-placed source, I was the first to report that Sweet Briar’s previous leadership planned to close the institution. I stayed with the story until a court settlement allowed the school to remain open, and I’ve worked to follow the outcomes of that decision. My continuing coverage of the Sweet Briar saga was honored with a regional Edward R. Murrow award by the Radio Television Digital News Association in 2016.

Over the next five years… I hope to continue growing as a reporter and journalist. I love what I do, and I’m happy that my current position provides me with opportunities to learn something new every day.

My inspiration and motivation come from… the many selfless people who pour themselves into this community and work to make it better. Lynchburg is such a special place, filled with dedicated and enthusiastic individuals who are striving every day to improve and maintain our quality of life. I’m motivated to tell stories about the positive things happening in our region.
Something not many people know about me is that… I’m a geography nerd and love studying maps, particularly road and transportation maps.

I’ve managed to visit all 95 counties in the state of Virginia, simply because I love traveling down different roads and seeing where they end up


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Alex Johnston

Alex Johnston
BIO: Founder of Cities Reimagined and a consultant for the Lynchburg Economic Development Authority. Alex was formerly the vice chair of the Lynchburg Planning Commission. She holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in business administration from Liberty University and is a graduate of the prestigious Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership at the University of Virginia. Alex served as a Family Support Worker with Healthy Families Virginia for several years, serving at-risk mothers and children living in poverty. This work led her to a career in community wealth building and social innovation.

So far in my career, I am most proud of… my time spent working for Healthy Families, a national organization dedicated to promoting child well-being and preventing the abuse and neglect of children through home visiting services. This work was the most challenging but rewarding time in my career and has laid the foundation for how I approach my work now.

Over the next five years… I want to be creative. Push the boundaries. Get out of my comfort zone. Cause a stir. Design something beautiful. Exceed expectations. Flip the outdated on its head. Learn something new. Make my community proud.

My inspiration and motivation come from… the citizens of our community and my coworkers and friends who care so deeply about our city. Our city has so much potential and a tremendous amount of talent—bringing that to light to share with the world is
all the motivation I need!

Something not many people know about me is that… one of my favorite things to do in Lynchburg is climb. I started climbing at Rise Up three years ago and have been hooked ever since (no pun intended).

This interest has led me to find lots of fun cross training hobbies like slacklining and paddle boarding.


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Abe Loper

Abe Loper
BIO: Owner of The White Hart Cafe in downtown Lynchburg, Blackwater Coffee at River Ridge Mall, and City Place Food & Co. in Wyndhurst. Abe works full-time as a Financial Representative with the Northwestern Mutual Financial Network and serves on the board of directors at CASA of Central Virginia, Horizon Behavioral Health, Bedford Area Chamber of Commerce and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He also serves on the Small Business Committee at the Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance and teaches in the School of Business at Liberty University. He is a 2012 graduate of LEAD Virginia and was Lynchburg Business magazine’s first Leader Profile back in December of 2009.

So far in my career, I am most proud of… making a difference in my community. I love that I get to employ more than 40 energetic young people. I love that I get to give to dozens of local charities each year. Hands down, the best part of finding success is sharing it.

Over the next five years… I’ll spend more time relaxing. The last five years have been hard. I’ve put in a lot of work. I just took my first vacation in six years time. I don’t need my businesses to get bigger, and I don’t want to open anything new. I’m finally finding the “groove” that allows for the right balance of work and play.

My inspiration and motivation come from… family. Always. I’m motivated by my desire to make my family proud, to set an example for my children and to be a good provider. I’m motivated by my desire to serve my White Hart family (my staff makes fun of me for calling them family, but that’s how I see them).

Something not many people know about me is that… I proposed to my wife just seven days after first meeting her. We celebrated eight years together this September.


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Allison Stronza

Allison Stronza
BIO: Executive Director of CASA of Central Virginia (Court Appointed Special Advocates). CASA recruits, trains, and supports volunteers who advocate for abused and neglected children. Prior to her time at CASA, she was the Executive Director for 12 years at Rush Homes, providing affordable housing for people with disabilities. Allison is a member of the Exchange Club of Lynchburg and has served on the board of the Central Virginia Homeless Coalition and Interfaith Outreach Association. In 2012, she was honored as one of the “Top 40 Under 40 in Housing” in Virginia.

So far in my career, I am most proud of… leading a nonprofit (Rush Homes) from a grassroots, unknown nonprofit organization with only two homes to a well-respected organization with a track record of producing high quality housing developments. It was like watching a child grow up; I’m very proud and honored to be have been part of that growth.

Over the next five years… I want to create financial sustainability for CASA by substantially increasing our donor
base and creating an endowment fund.

I also want to grow our volunteer base so that we no longer have children waiting for a CASA volunteer but instead have CASA volunteers waiting for a child.

My inspiration and motivation come from… making a difference. When you see a man with a disability regain his independence with an accessible home, a mother who is homeless get the keys to her new apartment or a child who was abandoned and abused find her new adoptive family—there’s nothing that could motivate me more.

Something not many people know about me is that… when my husband and I retire, we want to hike the entire Appalachian Trail—all 2,190 miles from Georgia to Maine. We love running, hiking and camping together and are excited to one day take on this six-month adventure!


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Aaron Smith

Aaron Smith
BIO: Student Employment Coordinator and Assistant Director of Human Resources at Lynchburg College. Aaron has previously worked for the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Lynchburg and served as the Head Coach of the American Basketball Association’s team Lynchburg Legends. He is highly involved in the community and serves with the United Way and his home church Family Life. He is the author of the book So, I’m a Leader: Now What? published by Outskirts Press Inc. and co-author of an academic article entitled “Countering the Narrative: A Layered Perspective on Supporting Black Males in Education” featured in the University of Pennsylvania’s online journal: Perspectives of Urban Education. He is also the Title IX coordinator for Lynchburg College and serves on multiple committees around campus including the Strategic Planning Committee. Aaron is also taking classes to complete his Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and has been recognized at Lynchburg College and within the broader community as an outstanding leader.

So far in my career, I am most proud of…publishing my first book and co-authoring my first academic article within the same month (November 2015).

Over the next five years… I plan to obtain my doctorate in Leadership Studies and pursue a career in academia as a full-time professor. Additionally, I’d like to become even more involved in service opportunities to continue to help the community.

My inspiration and motivation come from… my faith, my family and my mentees. My faith provides my inspiration to do all that I’ve been able to do. My family has been my motivation and support to become the best version of myself that I can be.
My mentees give me the energy to continue giving back.

Something not many people know about me is that… I’m an avid basketball fan. I’m fortunate to be able to provide commentary for Lynchburg College’s Lynchburg Hornet Sports Network during basketball season, which is broadcast online and on the local ESPN radio. I also enjoy spending time with my family, which includes my wife of 10 years, my 11-year-old son and my 2-year-old daughter.


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Bryan Shelton

Bryan Shelton
BIO: Founder and owner of Creative Edge Design, Inc., which started in 2009 as a one-man sign shop. Today, Bryan has grown the business to employ three full-time employees while managing multi-vehicle projects and expanding services well beyond Central Virginia—most recently winning a bid for 1,000 bus wraps in the D.C. metro area. Bryan also completed 3M training and testing to become a 3M Certified company with 3M Preferred installers, which makes them the only local company to have this designation; Creative Edge was also recently honored as a Lynchburg Business Magazine “Small Business on the Rise”. Bryan is a member of three area business chambers and mentors other startup business owners. He continuously gives of his talents to support numerous local schools and organizations such as high school athletics programs, robotics teams, theater groups and more.

So far in my career, I am most proud of… Not giving up on this idea. When I started out, there were plenty of reasons
to quit, but I kept on believing in myself and this idea. I’m proud that my business has grown to what it is today, and I’m proud that I get to do a job that I love every day.

Over the next five years… I hope to continue a steady growth with my business. And I hope that in five years I can still say I love what I do.

My inspiration and motivation come from… having a challenging childhood and wanting more for myself and my family.

Something not many people know about me is that… I enjoy lifting weights, riding Sea-Doos and riding Razors [scooters] in my
free time.


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Jordan Welborn

Jordan Welborn
BIO: Public Services Librarian at the main branch of the Campbell County Public Library System. Jordan is involved with the Natural Bridge Appalachian Trail Club as a hike leader and serves as chair of the PR Committee. She is a member of the Hill City Master Gardeners club, just recently joined the board of the James River Council for the Arts and Humanities and volunteers with the Opera on the James. Jordan graduated from the Leadership Lynchburg cohort and her cohort established “Art on Main,” which improved the look and feel of empty storefronts in Downtown Lynchburg. Jordan was recognized with a Campbell County Employee Excellence Award in 2014 and has helped coordinate children’s opera, cleared trails, lead hikes, taught classes, planted public gardens and more.

So far in my career, I am most proud of… the ability to share in the joys and successes of the public that I serve. Whether it’s learning that someone I assisted with a resume landed a job, or after a few technology classes a senior citizen stops by boasting they were able to video chat with their grandchildren for the first time, or high-fiving a child that receives his first library card, or even the simple delight of discussing a good book.

Over the next five years… I get a little antsy if I’m not learning something new. I’ve participated in a few local programs like Leadership Lynchburg and the Master Gardener program. Both have been awesome! So, whether it’s something else similar and close to home, or another master’s degree, I’d like to continue my education further.

My inspiration and motivation come from… my belief that each day is an opportunity to positively influence the lives of others. Sometimes it’s possible to pull off grand gestures. More often, it’s the little things we are able to control. I take my position of service seriously and strive each day to send a bit more light into the world.

Something not many people know about me is that… If you end up stopped next to me in traffic, you’ll probably spy me singing (and sometimes even dancing) in the car.

We only get so many days; I try to fill them with joy.

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Top 20 Under 40
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Top business professionals in lynchburg virginia
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Vistagraphics

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