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50 Most Influential Virginians

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Nancy Howell Agee, president and CEO, Carilion Clinic Inc., Roanoke
Why she is influential:  Agee heads the largest private employer west of Richmond, with 13,300 employees, including nearly 730 physicians. Carilion partnered with Virginia Tech in creating a medical school — now Tech’s ninth college — and a research institute. Agee is past board chair of the American Hospital Association and received the 2018 Gail L. Warden Leadership Excellence Award from the National Center for Healthcare Leadership. Modern Healthcare magazine has named her to its list of 100 Most Influential People in Healthcare three years in a row.
Recent developments: The VTC Research Institute was renamed as the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC after receiving a $50 million commitment from the Fralin family. Carilion’s Jefferson College of Health Sciences in Roanoke, meanwhile, plans to merge with Radford University. The school has about 1,150 students and 70 full-time faculty members.

Neil Amin, CEO, Shamin Hotels, Chester
Why he is influential: Amin leads Shamin Hotels, the state’s largest hotel operator. Shamin owns 58 hotels and employs 3,000 people. Last year it invested more than $200 million in new properties, the majority of which were in Virginia. Amin also serves on half a dozen boards, including the state Treasury Board.
Recent developments: Shamin has a slew of projects in the works. This year, it’s opening a Hampton Inn and Suites and Residence Inn in Henrico and Chesterfield counties, respectively. Next year it will introduce the state’s first Moxy in downtown Richmond. The Marriott-branded boutique hotel caters to millennials.

Robert A. Archer, chairman and CEO, Blue Ridge Beverage Co. Inc., Salem
Why he is influential: Blue Ridge, a wholesale beverage distributor, operates five locations and employs more than 475 people.  Archer chairs the governing boards of the Roanoke Valley Development Corp., LewisGale Medical Center and Center for Alcohol Policy.  He also serves on the Roanoke Higher Education Center Foundation board and is vice rector at Radford University.  Archer is a member of the Virginia Beer Wholesalers Association, Virginia Wine Wholesalers Association, Roanoke Business Council and Virginia War Memorial Foundation board.
Recent developments: Last year, transition to a new leadership structure was completed to include, for the first time, a board member from outside the family.  Also, construction of a 50,000-square-foot addition to the Salem facility (offices and warehouse) was essentially completed.  This year’s plans include distribution models and structures designed to improve efficiencies and customer service.         

John C. Asbury, president and CEO, Union Bankshares Corp., Richmond
Why he is influential: Since Asbury joined Union in late 2016, the parent company of Union Bank & Trust has more than doubled in size, from $7 billion to $16.4 billion in total assets. The growth stems from the recent acquisitions of Richmond-based Xenith Bank and Reston-based Access Bank. Asbury serves on the boards of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, Chamber RVA, Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges, Virginia Bankers Association and other industry groups.
Recent developments: In February, Union closed the $500 million Access deal. “Strategically it was the last piece of the puzzle to complete my vision of creating a great, statewide Virginia bank,” Asbury says. The deal expands Union’s presence in Northern Virginia while bolstering its business banking capabilities. “My goal is to reposition Union from a traditional community bank to a full-service regional bank capable of competing head to head with the large national and super-regional banks that dominate Virginia,” the CEO says. The company plans to rebrand itself as Atlantic Union Bankshares Corp. this spring.

Robert Aston Jr., executive chairman, TowneBank, Portsmouth
Why he is influential:  Aston’s banking career spans more than 50 years.  Since starting  TowneBank 20 years ago, he has  been an influential leader in his industry and the Hampton Roads community. In recent years, TowneBank has become a community-bank powerhouse, holding the largest market share in deposits in Hampton Roads.
Recent developments:  With total assets of $11.12 billion as of Sept. 30, TowneBank is one of the largest banks based in Virginia. This year, TowneBank will open offices in Greenville and Greensboro, N.C., expanding its network to 42 offices. TowneBank also has been a leader in promoting the social, cultural and economic growth of the communities it serves.

Gilbert T. Bland, chairman, The GilJoy Group, Virginia Beach
Why he is influential: Bland has been a major Burger King franchisee since 1985, serving on national boards representing company franchisees and minority franchise holders. A former chairman of the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, Bland has served on many educational, health-care and civic boards. Currently, he is a board member at Sentara Healthcare, Virginia Chamber of Commerce, Randolph-Macon College, Hampton Roads Community Foundation and Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Additionally, he heads the Urban League of Hampton Roads and Healthy Neighborhood Enterprises, a community development organization.
Recent developments: In early February, the Norfolk-based Eastern Virginia Medical School named Bland chair of a Community Advisory Group appointed to investigate how racist photos appeared in the school’s 1984 yearbook. 

Jennifer Boykin, president, Newport News Shipbuilding, Newport News
Why she is influential: Boykin oversees the sole builder of the Navy’s nuclear aircraft carriers and one of only two providers of Navy nuclear submarines. She’s leading the shipyard as the Navy seeks to expand its fleet to 355 ships. Newport News Shipbuilding is the largest industrial employer in Virginia with roughly 24,000 employees. Boykin serves on several boards, including the Virginia Growth and Opportunity Board, a statewide initiative that seeks to promote economic development. She also is vice chair of Blueprint Virginia, the Virginia Chamber of Commerce’s plan to strengthen the state’s economic competitiveness.
Recent developments: The Navy recently announced plans to buy two aircraft carriers together instead of separately. The move is expected to reduce the Navy’s costs and close the gap in production of warships. The Navy last purchased two aircraft carriers at once 30 years ago. “The multi-ship purchase of these aircraft carriers helps stabilize the Newport News Shipbuilding workforce, enables the purchase of material in quantity and permits a supplier base of more than 2,000 in 46 states to phase work more efficiently,” Boykin says. “This partnership is a win for all involved.” 

Ramon W. Breeden Jr., president and CEO, The Breeden Co., Virginia Beach
Why he is influential: Breeden leads one of the largest developers of multifamily properties in Virginia, with a portfolio of about 12,000 units.  Breeden is a longtime donor to the SPCA and contributes to the purchase of ballistic vests for dogs in local police departments. He serves on the boards of the Virginia Beach Education Foundation, the Virginia Symphony Orchestra and the Hampton Roads Military and Federal Facilities Alliance board.
Recent developments: The Breeden Co. is building Allure at Jefferson, an $85.5 million Fredericksburg project being built in two phases that will include 450 apartments. The $30 million Pinewell Station in Norfolk includes 147 units. 

Matt Calkins, founder and CEO, Appian, Reston
Why he is influential: Calkins leads Appian, whose platform allows companies to write their own software by “drawing” rather than writing code. The technology is used all over the world by customers, including airports, pharmaceutical companies and the biggest banks. The federal government also has used the technology in areas including  critical parts of the Affordable Care Act. “We’ve made it easy and affordable to create unique software; so companies around the world have been using us for some of the most important tasks,” Calkins says. He serves on the boards of the Northern Virginia Technology Council, the Sorensen Institute and the Virginia Public Access Project. Fun fact: he has authored three board games and is regularly a top finisher at the World Boardgaming Championships.
Recent developments: Later this year, Appian will move its headquarters from Reston to the former Gannett headquarters in Tysons. The building, which features the firm’s logo, is being renovated to incorporate open space to promote collaboration. “We wanted a place that would say to the world what our ambitions are, to be a technology leader, and I think this space will do that,” says Calkins. The company also has options to occupy floors in additional buildings to accommodate the company’s rapid growth. As part of the investment, last year Gov. Ralph Northam approved $4 million in incentives to add hundreds of employees over five years.

Teresa Carlson, vice president, worldwide public sector, Amazon Web Services, Herndon
Why she is influential: Carlson founded AWS’ public-sector unit in 2010.  The business serves government agencies, academic institutions and nonprofits. “We were a small and scrappy group with one goal: To provide public-sector customers with the same cutting-edge cloud technology that has driven innovation in the private sector — from fast-growing startups like Netflix and Lyft, to well-known enterprises,” says Carlson. AWS has several thousand employees in Northern Virginia, the majority of whom are in Herndon. Carlson’s community involvement includes serving on the boards of the Northern Virginia Technology Council and the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts.
Recent developments: Last year, AWS and Northern Virginia Community College launched an associate degree program specializing in cloud computing. The program aligns with the skills and credentials needed by AWS and other employers providing cloud-based services. In June, Carlson’s team once again will host its annual cloud-computing summit in Washington, D.C., which is expected to draw 12,000 people. The event teaches participants how to use the cloud to achieve their business goals, but it also leaves room for fun. “Years ago, I began hosting workouts at all our major AWS events,” Carlson says. “We’ll transform a hotel ballroom into a gym studio and bring instructors to lead a workout for our customers and employees. Even though the classes are early in the morning, the room is always packed.”  

Steve Case, chairman and CEO, Revolution LLC, Washington, D.C.
Why he is influential: Case co-founded America Online in 1985. In 2000, he negotiated AOL’s merger with Time Warner. Case co-founded Revolution LLC, a Washington, D.C.-based investment firm, in 2005. A resident of Warrenton, Case and his wife, Jean, own Early Mountain Vineyards in Madison County. Case is a member of the Smithsonian Institution’s Board of Regents. He co-founded and is chairman of the Case Foundation.
Recent developments: Revolution’s $150 million Rise of the Rest Seed Fund has invested in startups — including two Virginia companies, Rize and UbiquitiLink. High-profile names like Amazon’s Jeff Bezos are investors involved with the fund. Revolution Growth led a $22.5 million investment round for Richmond-based TemperPack.

C. Daniel Clemente, chairman and CEO, Clemente Development Co., Tysons
Why he is influential: Clemente’s company has been behind major projects in Northern Virginia. He also serves on the board of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, which was instrumental in landing Amazon’s HQ2.
Recent developments: The company is working on a 3-million-square-foot project that Clemente says will help transform Tysons. Plans for the View include residential buildings, a hotel with condos, a performing arts center and multiple office buildings, including a 600-foot tower that would be the tallest building between Philadelphia and Charlotte, N.C. “We’re trying to create a skyline at Tysons,” says Clemente. “We want to give tourists a reason to come and visit.” He also is proposing building 1,400 units of what he calls “workforce housing” so people such as secretaries can afford to live in the area.

Dennis R. Cronk, president and CEO, Poe & Cronk Real Estate Group, Roanoke
Why he is influential: Cronk heads one of the largest commercial real estate firms in the Roanoke region. The company’s total transactions grew by 20 percent last year, he says. Cronk and his wife, Elaine, support programs such as the Junior Golf Foundation, Boys & Girls Club and the Roanoke College Endowment Fund.
Recent developments: Poe & Cronk handled the $6.5 million sale of the former R.R. Donnelley & Sons building in Roanoke County and the $3.5 million sale of the former DISH Network operations center in Montgomery County. The company handles leasing for Roanoke’s Wells Fargo Tower, which has reached 100 percent occupancy.

Ben J. Davenport Jr., chairman, First Piedmont Corp. and Davenport Energy, Chatham 
Why he is influential: Davenport continues to be a statewide voice for economic development in rural Virginia. He is vice chairman of the board of GO Virginia, a state-funded initiative that fosters regional collaboration for new projects. He also serves on the boards of Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities Corp., the Virginia Chamber of Commerce and the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research in Danville.
Recent developments: He and his wife continue to support early childhood development projects.

Tad Deriso, president and CEO, Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities Corp., South Boston
Why he is influential: Working with Old Dominion Electric Cooperative, Virginia Tech, and business and political leaders, Deriso developed the business plan to create MBC, a nonprofit entity that would build an advanced fiber-optic network to help improve Southern Virginia’s economic development. Deriso executed the plan, which resulted in more than $100 million in infrastructure funding from the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission and the U.S. Department of Commerce. MBC has seen tremendous development during the past 15 years — building and operating a 1,900-mile network that covers 33 counties and creating a business model that reinvests revenues in economic and community development initiatives. To date, MBC’s direct economic impact has resulted in more than $2.6 billion in private-sector investment and 1,200 jobs while helping to enable broadband access to more than 100,000 Southern Virginia homes and businesses. Deriso serves on the board of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce.
Recent developments: Last year, Deriso helped orchestrate a partnership with Microsoft to launch its TechSpark initiative in Virginia. TechSpark is aimed at fostering greater economic opportunity and job creation through partnership with rural communities. Microsoft will invest in programs with MBC and local partners to enhance digital skills, career pathways and computer science learning opportunities. 

Lynne Doughtie, chairman and CEO, KPMG U.S., New York
Why she is influential: The Powhatan County resident leads 32,000 employees as head of the U.S. opera­tions of one of the world’s top profes­sional-services firms. Doughtie continues to cultivate the corporate culture at KPMG, which consistently is ranked by Fortune as one of the nation’s Best Companies to Work For. She serves on many boards, including Catalyst, the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy, National Academy Foundation and LUNGevity. She also is on two advisory boards at Virginia Tech’s Pamplin College of Business. The Tech alum has been on Fortune’s list of Most Powerful Women for several years. 
Recent developments: Doughtie continues to drive innovation at KPMG. The firm is making acquisitions and developing its portfolio of alliance partners. A new alliance with Google Cloud and the expansion of alliances with IBM Watson and Microsoft are just a few recent examples. In 2018, Doughtie was named to Glassdoor’s  list of top CEOs.

William B. “Bill” Downey, president and CEO, Riverside Health System, Newport News
Why he is influential: In 2012, Downey became CEO of Riverside Health System, a health system based in Newport News. Downey is a board member of the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation Inc., Virginia Chamber of Commerce, United Way of the Virginia Peninsula, Virginia Symphony, Towne Bank-Peninsula and Premier Inc. He is past chairman and a current member of the Greater Peninsula NOW and Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association. Riverside Health System provides the health clinics for two locations in Newport News of An Achievable Dream Academy and donates money and services to local free clinics.
Recent developments: Riverside has undergone a number of renovations and expansions during the past year. Its largest facility, Riverside Regional Medical Center in Newport News, finished a $90 million expansion that added more private rooms. Riverside Walter Reed Hospital in Gloucester recently completed a $50 million renovation and expansion. Riverside’s Patriot Colony, a 55-plus continuing-care retirement community, completed a $35 million expansion. Riverside also continues to expand and upgrade its electronic health record system. Downey says the health system also focuses on keeping up with consumer demands.  

James W. Dyke Jr., senior adviser, Virginia State Government Relations, McGuireWoods Consulting, Tysons
Why he is influential: Dyke has been appointed to a board or commission by every Virginia governor since Chuck Robb’s administration, which began in 1982. Gov. Ralph Northam named him to the Norfolk State University board of visitors.
Recent developments: Dyke is a member of the executive committee for the Commonwealth Cyber  Initiative and is a committee member of the Virginia Research Investment Fund. The Community Foundation for Northern Virginia gave its Community Service Award to Dyke and his wife, Ellen, in recognition of their leadership and philanthropy.

Ric Edelman, chairman, financial education and client experience, Edelman Financial Engines, Fairfax
Why he is influential: Edelman has become one of the most recognized faces in personal finance with a weekly radio show and podcast, TV series and many personal finance books to his name. The most recent, “The Squirrel Manifesto,” which he co-authored with his wife, Jean, is geared for children ages 4 to 8. The Edelmans support many charities and have pledged to spend up to $25 million to fund an Xprize competition to find ways to combat Alzheimers’ disease.
Recent developments: The company Edelman and Jean founded merged last year with Financial Engines, which provides 401(k) services to companies that combined employ more than 10 million workers. That provides Edelman Financial with a wider audience for its personal finance education. “That will give us the ability to reach and impact millions of people more than we have been able to reach on [our] own,” Edelman says.

Richard Fairbank, founder, chairman and CEO, Capital One Financial Corp., Tysons
Why he is influential: Fairbank has grown Capital One from a startup to become the 10th largest bank in the U.S., in terms of total assets. It’s also one of the biggest publicly traded companies in the nation, ranking No. 101 on the Fortune 500 list. Fairbank is one of the 100 best-performing CEOs in the world, according to the Harvard Business Review.
Recent developments: The company has been expanding its Tysons headquarters campus. That includes the opening late last year of a 31-story tower, the tallest occupied structure in the Washington, D.C., area.

Thomas Farrell, chairman, CEO and president, Dominion Energy, Richmond
Why he is influential: Farrell holds the reins at the state’s largest utility, which also is one of Virginia’s most powerful companies. Dominion’s financial contributions to politicians in the state have come under increasing scrutiny. Farrell is the presiding director of Altria Group Inc. and a member of the board of AEGIS, an insurance company.
Recent developments: Dominion is one of four energy companies behind the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a 600-mile natural gas pipeline that’s facing pushback and legal challenges from activists. Separately, Farrell is one of the key players in a $1.4 billion redevelopment of a section of Richmond surrounding the Richmond Coliseum. City Council members continue to review the proposal, which has been endorsed by Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney.

Heywood Fralin, chairman, Medical Facilities of America Inc., Roanoke
Why he is influential: Fralin, a lifelong Roanoke resident, is a member and past chairman of the Virginia Business Higher Education Council. He serves on the boards of the Virginia Western Community College Educational Foundation, Taubman Museum of Art, GO Virginia and Virginia Research Investment Committee, which provides research funding to universities. Fralin is chairman of the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.
Recent developments:  Heywood and Cynthia Fralin and the Horace G. Fralin Charitable Trust donated a record $50 million to Virginia Tech to support research at the renamed Fralin Biomedical Research Institute in Roanoke.

Christopher E. French, chairman, president and CEO, Shenandoah Telecommunications Co. (Shentel), Edinburg
Why he is influential: French has worked for more than 30 years at Shentel, a publicly traded wireless telephone provider. Last year, French joined the board of directors of USTelecom, a national trade association representing the broadband industry, and he continues to serve on its Leadership Committee. He also recently joined the board of directors of the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education.
Recent developments: Last year, Shentel expanded its relationship with Sprint by adding additional service areas covering 1.1 million people. This latest expansion means Shentel will have authorization to serve more than 7 million people in the mid-Atlantic area as a Sprint PCS Affiliate.

Michael Friedlander, vice president for health sciences and technology at Virginia Tech and executive director of the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute, Roanoke 
Why he is influential: Friedlander is the founding director of Virginia Tech’s Roanoke-based biomedical research institute. Founded in 2010, the institute has received more than $125 million in federal research grants. It has more than two dozen teams studying addiction, cancer, neuroscience and other research areas.
Recent developments: The Fralins, a prominent Roanoke family, are giving $50 million to the institute to attract and retain researchers. The gift is the largest single donation ever made to Virginia Tech.  The research institute, located on the Virginia Tech Carilion Health Sciences and Technology campus, is undergoing a $90 million expansion.

Lou Haddad, president and CEO, Armada Hoffler Properties, Virginia Beach 
Why he is influential:  Haddad heads one of the largest commercial real estate businesses in Virginia. The company has participated in more than 25 public-private partnerships in the region, including the Town Center of Virginia Beach. Haddad led the company’s initial public offering and transition to a publicly traded REIT in 2013. Since then, the company has tripled its equity market value to nearly $1 billion. The company’s holdings include 51 large-scale commercial assets. Its operations span across seven mid-Atlantic states.
Recent developments: Haddad will be inducted into the Junior Achievement of Greater Hampton Roads Business Hall of Fame in March. The company supported The Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore to fill the gap that Farm Fresh left when it exited the market. Last year it received the CoVaBIZ 2018 Community Impact Award.

Sheila Johnson, founder and CEO, Salamander Hotels & Resorts, Middleburg
Why she is influential:  Johnson operates three resorts in Florida and owns one in Northern Virginia — the 340-acre Salamander Resort & Spa in Middleburg. Her company is No. 21 among the nation’s 100 largest black-owned businesses, logging $210 million in revenue in 2017. She is the first African-American woman to become an owner or partner in three professional sports teams: the Washington Capitals (NHL), the Washington Wizards (NBA), and the Washington Mystics (WNBA). Johnson also is co-founder of WE Capital, a venture capital firm that invests in women-led startups. She is the mastermind of the annual Middleburg Film Festival, which has drawn Hollywood stars such as Emma Stone and Meg Ryan.
Recent developments:  Salamander Resort & Spa recently received a Five-Star rating from Forbes Travel Guide, placing it among elite hotels and resorts around the world.

Steve Johnson, president and founder, Johnson Commercial Development, Bristol 
Why he is influential: Johnson is the developer behind a great deal of recent growth in the Tri-City area. The Virginia Tech alum developed The Pinnacle, a 250-acre retail complex in Bristol, Tenn., with more than a million square feet of space, including more than 70 stores and restaurants.
Recent developments:  Johnson  plans to develop 300 acres adjacent to The Pinnacle on the Bristol, Va., side of the state line into an amphitheater, adventure park and indoor water park. He also serves on the board of the United Way of Bristol. 
 
Howard Kern, president and CEO, Sentara Healthcare, Norfolk
Why he is influential:  Sentara, one of the five largest Virginia-based employers, has operations in three states, with 28,000 employees and net revenue of $6.3 billion. Last year, Forbes named Sentara one of “America’s Best Employers” and IBM Watson Health listed it among “Top 15 Health Systems.” A fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives, Kern is involved with many organizations, including Future of  Hampton Roads, Hampton Roads Business Roundtable,  Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance, ReInvent Hampton Roads and Virginia Biosciences Health Research Corp.
Recent developments: Sentara last year broke ground on a $93.5 million cancer center and tripled its support of Eastern Virginia Medical School with a 5-year, $130 million pledge. Additionally, Sentara and its health plan, Optima Health, donated nearly $6.3 million to nonprofits in Virginia and North Carolina addressing Medicaid expansion, access to care, behavioral health, opioid addiction and food insecurity.

Robert C. “Bob” Kettler, CEO and owner, Kettler, McLean
Why he is influential: Kettler heads one of the country’s largest multifamily development companies. It has developed more than 20,000 multifamily units, 5 million square feet of commercial space, more than 46,000 homes in 25 master-planned communities and many of the region’s mixed-use communities. The company and its partner, The Meridian Group, are developing The Boro in Tysons Corner. The first phase features 2 million square feet of office, retail, entertainment and residential space.
Recent developments: Kettler is now the office apartment management company of the Washington Capitals, Mystics and Wizards. It reached a multiyear agreement with Monumental Sports & Entertainment that calls for Kettler to sponsor the second level of the Capital One Arena.

Bobbie G. Kilberg, president and CEO, Northern Virginia Technology Council, Herndon
Why she is influential: With 20 years of experience as its CEO, Kilberg has defined NVTC as the leading advocate for Northern Virginia’s technology community. She recently participated in a coalition highlighting the impact of the partial federal government shutdown on small technology businesses. Kilberg also participated in an industry working group under U.S. Sen. Mark Warner’s leadership to remedy the delays and backlogs in processing federal security clearances. She serves on the board of directors of Appian Corp. and the Northern Virginia Regional Council of GO Virginia.
Recent Developments: Kilberg led the expansion of NVTC’s Tech Talent Initiative last year to help technology companies find employees. NVTC hosted the inaugural Tech 100 Awards in December, honoring the companies and individuals that are driving innovation and growth in the Greater Washington region.

Justin Knight, president and CEO, Apple Hospitality REIT Inc., Richmond
Why he is influential: Apple Hospitality boasts one of the largest portfolios of upscale hotels in the country. The company owns 241 hotels in 34 states, the majority of which are Marriott and Hilton properties. Knight serves on several boards, including the American Hotel and Lodging Association, Marriott Owners Advisory Council and the Residence Inn Association Board. Locally, he’s on the boards of Southern Virginia University, The Valentine Museum and Venture Richmond.
Recent developments: Apple Hospitality recently acquired its first Hyatt-branded hotel, a Hyatt Place in Jacksonville, Fla. The 127-room property was purchased for $15.4 million from a subsidiary of BPR Properties.

John R. Lawson II, executive chairman, W.M. Jordan Co., Newport News
Why he is influential: The 2018 Virginia Business Person of the Year leads W.M. Jordan Co., a general contractor behind many iconic projects around the state. Lawson serves on 15 corporate, civic and philanthropic boards, including the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters and the Hampton Roads Community Foundation.
Recent developments: Following a thorough succession plan, Lawson became executive chairman of the company last year after serving as CEO since 1986. An ongoing endeavor includes Tech Center, a mixed-use development in his hometown. Lawson already has invested $250 million in the project, which he hopes will help adjacent Jefferson Lab win a $1 billion electron ion collider that is expected to make a $4 million economic impact.

Vincent J. Mastracco Jr., member and co-chair of the Real Estate Strategies Group, Kaufman & Canoles, Norfolk
Why he is influential: Mastracco is chair of the board of directors of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP). He praises the VEDP staff — including President and CEO Stephen Moret — for their role in landing Amazon’s second headquarters, HQ2. Mastracco’s community involvement includes serving on the boards of the Sentara Foundation, Hampton Roads Community Foundation, Eastern Virginia Medical School Foundation and Virginia Wesleyan University.
Recent developments: Mastracco has been helping localities throughout Virginia prepare more “shovel-ready” economic development sites. These are buildings and plots of land that have been connected to utilities and properly zoned so that a business prospect can set up quickly and begin production.

Terri McClements, managing partner, mid-Atlantic, Pricewaterhouse­Coopers LLP (PwC), McLean
Why she is influential: McClements leads 4,000 PwC employees in Northern Virginia; Richmond; Washington, D.C.; Baltimore; Philadelphia and Harrisburg, Pa. The company is one of the largest accounting firms in the world.
Recent developments: PwC has launched an effort to help workers improve their digital skills. McClements is leading the program regionally. Amazon’s plans to locate its second headquarters in Arlington County will create additional demand for technology skills. “It’s great that we embarked on this digital upskilling journey prior to [Amazon’s announcement] as tech skills will become an even more important element to retaining talent,” the company said in a statement.

Mark H. Merrill, president and CEO, Valley Health System, Winchester
Why he is influential:  The largest nonprofit employer in its region, Valley Health has a yearly economic impact of more than $1.24 billion. Merrill, who chairs the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association, was recognized by the American Hospital Association for his role in advocating for Medicaid expansion.  He has overseen a wide array of construction and renovation projects at Valley Health’s hospitals and outpatient sites.
Recent developments: Winchester Medical Center (WMC) has been named a Center of Excellence in Cardiovascular Care by the American Heart Association and a Magnet in Nursing by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. The center also honored Valley Health’s Warren Memorial Hospital with the Pathways to Excellence in Nursing designation.  

Tony Moraco, CEO, SAIC, Reston
Why he is influen­tial:  Moraco leads SAIC, now the second-largest U.S. government technology integrator. The company was created in 2013 when it was spun off from Leidos. Moraco is a board member of the Northern Virginia Technology Council and the Intelligence and National Security Alliance (INSA).
Recent developments: Earlier this year SAIC closed on its all-stock, $2.5 billion acquisition of Chantilly-based Engility Holdings Inc., which became a wholly owned subsidiary of SAIC. The company, which expects to have annual revenues of $6.5 billion after the merger, now has a total of 23,000 employees. 

Stephen Moret, president and CEO, Virginia Economic Development Partnership, Richmond
Why he is influential: In a word? Amazon. As the top official at the state’s economic development authority, Moret was the lead negotiator in getting Amazon to pick Virginia for half of the company’s East Coast headquarters. (The other half was supposed to go to New York City, which ultimately pulled out of the planned investment following political opposition.) Amazon has pledged to create 25,000 high-paying jobs over 12 years in Virginia in exchange for $550 million in direct subsidies from the state, along with major public investments in transportation improvements that would benefit Amazon’s operations in Arlington. Moret is a board member of the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, Virginia Early Childhood Foundation, Virginia Economic Developers Association, Virginia Port Authority and the LSU Foundation national board of directors.
Recent developments: Moret is working with state leaders to implement a statewide tech-talent pipeline initiative designed to more than double the number of annual graduates with bachelor’s or master’s degrees in computer science and related fields. The initiative is aimed at supporting the growth of Amazon’s headquarters operations in Arlington as well as tech companies around Virginia. VEDP is working with the Virginia Community College System (VCCS) to create a workforce recruitment and training program that will benefit growth in smaller metro areas and rural communities. VEDP also continues to work  with the Virginia Chamber of Commerce to help the state regain its position as the country’s best state for business.

Christopher J. Nassetta, president and CEO, Hilton Worldwide Holdings, Tysons
Why he is influential: Nassetta has led Hilton for more than a decade. He is chairman of the board of the World Travel & Tourism Council and a  board member of CoStar Group Inc. and the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts. He also is vice chair of the corporate fund for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
Recent developments: Hilton says last year it opened more than one hotel each day and added more than 450 properties to its global portfolio. The company added the brands Motto by Hilton and LXR Hotels & Resorts to its offerings. Hilton was ranked by Fortune magazine as No. 1 on its list of 100 Best Companies to Work For.

Phebe Novakovic, chairman and CEO, General Dynamics, Falls Church
Why she is influential:  Since 2013, Novakovic has led General Dynamics, Virginia’s largest defense contractor, which builds Navy submarines, destroyers and other ships; tanks and land vehicles; electronics for the Defense Department; and business jets. The company employs more than 13,000 workers in Virginia. Novakovic serves on several boards, including the Greater Washington Partnership, and is chairman of Ford’s Theatre and the Association of the U.S. Army.
Recent developments: General Dynamics won a bidding war to acquire CSRA for $9.6 billion in cash. This fall the company’s moving its corporate headquarters from Falls Church to a new building in Reston.

Connie Nyholm, majority owner and CEO, Virginia International Raceway, Alton
Why she is influential: Nyholm transformed an abandoned track into a regional economic player that draws 300,000 visitors each year. VIR and associated businesses at the raceway’s industrial park employ more than 400 people. Nyholm is president of the Road Racing Industry Council and is on the boards for the Institute for Advanced Learning & Research and the Virginia Chamber of Commerce.
Recent developments: In October, VIR will host the SCCA National Championship Runoffs. The SCCA sanctioned the first race at VIR and again in March 2000 when Harvey Siegel and Nyholm reopened the track. Halifax County is exploring how best to provide water to the track after dealing with issues with the wells VIR uses.

Jon M. Peterson, CEO, Peterson Cos., Fairfax
Why he is influential: As head of one of the major developers in Northern Virginia, Peterson continues to expand the company’s reach to include data centers. The company sold more than 300 acres to Microsoft at its Compass Creek development in the Leesburg area and has 120 acres in Prince William County positioned for technology-focused users. Peterson has served as chairman of the board of visitors at George Mason University and as a member of the board of trustees at Inova Health System. 
Recent developments: Peterson has entered the self-storage business, opening his first storage site at Commonwealth Center in Loudoun. A second storage site is under construction in Prince William, and two more are on the way. The company’s Haven condominium development at National Harbor tied for the fastest-selling in the Washington, D.C., area with more than 50 percent of the units being sold in 11 months. 

Mike Petters, president and CEO, Huntington Ingalls Industries, Newport News
Why he is influential: Huntington Ingalls Industries, which includes Newport News Shipbuilding, is the largest military shipbuilding company in the nation. Petters sits on numerous boards and committees, including the Virginia Business Council and the state Advisory Council on Revenue Estimates. Since 2016, he has reduced his base salary to $1 to fund a scholarship program for children and dependents of HII employees. More than $1 million in scholarships has been awarded through the program.
Recent developments: Divisions of HII and Texas-based Kellogg Brown and Root have been granted a contract to establish and manage Australia’s new Naval Shipbuilding College, which seeks to develop the country’s naval shipbuilding workforce.

Gary Philbin, president and CEO, Dollar Tree, Chesapeake
Why he is influential: Philbin joined Dollar Tree in 2001. Since then, he’s held several executive roles, including president and chief operating officer of Family Dollar after Dollar Tree bought that retail chain in 2015 for $8.5 billion. He became president and CEO of Dollar Tree in September 2017. The discount retailer operates more than 15,100 stores in 48 states and five Canadian provinces.
Recent developments: Dollar Tree recently moved into its new 12-story, 510,000-square-foot headquarters building that is visible from Interstate 64. The company announced last year it would integrate all of Family Dollar’s organization and support functions at its new headquarters, bringing 700 jobs from North Carolina. Consolidation is expected to be complete later this year. The headquarters is part of Summit Pointe, a $300 million mixed-use development, which eventually will have residential, retail and additional office space. Construction began on the second phase this year. In January, the company was put on the defensive when activist investor Starboard Value LP suggested the company sell Family Dollar, where sales mostly have been flat. Dollar Tree is currently renovating many of the Family Dollar stores. The company expects Family Dollar’s  performance to improve as it renovates more stores and finishes consolidation at its Chesapeake headquarters. Dollar Tree has renovated more than 850 Family Dollar stores and plans to renovate another 1,000 in fiscal 2019.  

John Reinhart, CEO and executive director, Virginia Port Authority, Norfolk
Why he is influential:  Reinhart heads the Port of Virginia, the third-largest container port on the East Coast. He serves on multiple state and regional boards, including the Virginia Economic Development Partnership and the Hampton Roads Transportation Accountability Commission.
Recent developments: The state agreed to pay $350 million to deepen and widen the port’s channels to 55 feet to accommodate the growth of container vessels. Preliminary engineering and design began last summer. The port also is involved in major expansion projects at its two largest container terminals that will increase its overall capacity by 40 percent.

Buddy Rizer, executive director, economic development, Loudoun County
Why he is influential:  Loudoun continues to attract billions of dollars of new commercial investment each year, in large part because of a thriving infrastructure for the data centers created under Rizer’s watch. More than 70 percent of all internet traffic passes through Ashburn. Already the world’s No. 1 data-center market, Loudoun has attracted significant new investment from Discovery Communications, Collins Aerospace, L3 Harris Technologies, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency and others. 
Recent developments: Again last year, Rizer was named a “Tech Titan” by Washingtonian magazine. He is a member of the board of directors of the Northern Virginia Technology Council and Northern Virginia Community College Foundation. During his five years as head of economic development, the county has attracted more than $13 billion in investment. Loudoun will have three new Metro developments breaking ground in 2020.
 
Steven C. Smith, president and CEO, Food City, Abingdon
Why he is influential: Smith leads Food City Stores, a grocery chain with 131 stores throughout Southwest Virginia, Southeast Kentucky, East Tennessee and North Georgia. He serves on the boards of GO Virginia, the Food Marketing Institute and TOPCO Associates LLC.
Recent developments: The company is building what will become its flagship store in The Meadows, a 70-acre commercial center the company is developing, with 40 acres reserved for a sports complex. The surrounding retail space is 90 percent leased. The company also is opening seven new stores this year and recently renewed its title sponsorship of the NASCAR races at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Bruce L. Thompson, CEO, Gold Key | PHR,  Virginia Beach
Why he is influential: One of the leading hotel developers in Virginia, Thompson continues to acquire property throughout the mid-Atlantic for hotel and entertainment sites. The company has approximately 2,200 employees. That number will increase later this year with the opening of the $125 million Marriott Oceanfront and the Cavalier Beach Club in Virginia Beach. Thompson last year reopened The Cavalier Hotel in Virginia Beach, which houses the Tarnished Truth Distilling Co. The distillery’s Old Cavalier bourbon is now on the shelves of ABC stores in Virginia. “Hopefully we will be exporting it before too long,” Thompson says.
Recent developments: Thompson co-chaired the Tourism and Recreation Cluster Committee of the GO Virginia regional council for Hampton Roads. It is leading the effort to rebrand Hampton Roads and market the region as a vacation destination. The goal is to put the area in a “regional competitive position in a global tourism market.” He is building 40 condos on the oceanfront that will be ready for sale later this year.
 
Warren Thompson, founder, president and chairman, Thompson Hospitality, Reston
Why he is influential: Thompson runs one of the largest black-owned companies in the country. Thompson Hospitality ranked No. 9 on Black Enterprise’s most recent list of African-American businesses. The company has 5,500 employees and had $760 million in revenue last year. Thompson is an avid philanthropist. Last year, he became a member of the University of Virginia Darden School of Business’ Principal Donors Society, which recognizes people who have given $1 million or more to the school in their lifetime. He is a Darden graduate.
Recent developments: Thompson Hospitality is building a 138-room Homewood Suites in Reston next to its headquarters. The property will employ 60 people and have a training kitchen for new chefs entering the Thompson Hospitality Food Group.

Kathy Warden, president and CEO, Northrop Grumman Corp., Falls Church
Why she is influential: Warden took the helm of the Falls Church-based defense contractor in January, becoming the first female to lead the company. Now four of the country’s largest defense contractors are led by women. Warden chairs the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond’s board of directors and is a member of the Wolf Trap Foundation’s board and the board of visitors at James Madison University, her alma mater.
Recent developments: Warden, who has worked for the company since 2008, most recently was president and chief operating officer. In that role she led the integration of Dulles-based Orbital ATK, which the company acquired for $7.8 billion last year. Since then, annual revenues increased last year to $31 billion.

 

Howard A. Willard III, chairman and CEO, Altria Group Inc., Richmond
Why he is influential: Willard became chairman and CEO of Altria last year after serving as the tobacco giant’s chief operating officer. He also has been chief financial officer and executive vice president of strategy and business development at Altria. Willard has worked at the company for more than 25 years. Before coming to Altria, he worked at Bain & Co., a global management consulting firm, and Salomon Brothers Inc., an investment bank. Willard is a signatory to the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion pledge.
Recent developments: Last year, Altria announced it was taking a 45 percent stake in Cronos Group, a Toronto-based cannabis company. The $1.8 billion investment was seen as another indication of the cannabis industry’s growing potential. In another move to diversify its business, Altria last year also announced a $12.8 billion investment in the nation’s fast-growing electronic cigarette company Juul Labs Inc. (See story) Last year also saw the FDA ramp up efforts to curb teen-use of electronic cigarettes. 


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