100 People to Meet in 2022: Impact Makers
Whether battling climate change, fighting for diversity, equity and inclusion, or volunteering their leadership skills to make a difference in their communities, it’s all in a day’s work for these impactful Virginians.
Traci J. DeShazor
Deputy secretary of the commonwealth, director of African American outreach
Being a part of Gov. Ralph Northam’s push for second chances, like restoring the civil rights of 111,000 people, is what Traci DeShazor says makes her proudest of being a public servant. A two-term deputy secretary of the commonwealth and member of Lead Virginia’s class of 2021, DeShazor also served in Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s administration. She is entering her second master’s degree program in the spring, pursuing a degree in public administration and policy from American University to add to her liberal studies, justice and legal studies degree. As the Northam administration reaches its conclusion, she’s excited by the coming transition. Though she hasn’t settled on her next steps, she’ll be pleased “as long as justice and equity are centered in the work.”
Vice president and general counsel, The United Co.
As general counsel for The United Co., the real estate development company for the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Bristol, Jasen Eige helped lead the successful 2020 push to pass casino legislation in Virginia. A former senior policy adviser to Gov. Bob McDonnell, Eige was well-equipped for the effort. The Hard Rock casino resort is anticipated to bring 2,000 full-time jobs to Bristol, and Eige sees that as a way to give back to the community he returned to after working 14 years in Richmond. The United Co. hopes to temporarily open the casino in the former JCPenney store at the shuttered Bristol Mall, which partner Par Ventures LLC owns, in the first half of 2022 while renovating the mall and building two towers. The permanent casino will be housed in the former Sears store.
Raymond C. “Ray” Knott
Market president, Atlantic Union Bank; co-chair, Justice Equity Diversity and Inclusion Committee, PATH Foundation
Ray Knott was in the group that formed the PATH Foundation, a Warrenton-based philanthropic charity that focuses on improving health outcomes and disparities in Fauquier, Rappahannock and Culpeper counties. Funded through a $250 million endowment, the PATH (Piedmont Action to Health) Foundation emerged from the 2013 sale of Fauquier Health and its local hospital. The foundation has invested $50 million from its $250 million endowment in Culpeper, Fauquier and Rappahannock counties and partnered with Herren Wellness to bring a substance abuse recovery facility to Warrenton. During his term as the foundation’s chairman, he started the foundation’s Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion initiative. “On the short period of time that we spend on this Earth, we’re just stewards of where we live, and it’s our job to make it a better place,” says Knott, a 2021 Lead Virginia class member.
Executive director, Community Climate Collaborative (C3)
Susan Kruse is passionate about social justice and protecting the planet, and those two issues often intersect, she says. “When you’re addressing climate issues at the local level, it might look like advocacy for affordable housing; it might look like access to better transit systems.” In 2019, Kruse took the helm at C3, and earlier this year, the climate change-focused nonprofit launched the Green Business Alliance with 16 Virginia-headquartered businesses committing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45% by 2025. A member of the state’s Clean Energy Advisory Board, Kruse previously worked as director of philanthropy for Appalachian Voices, an environmental nonprofit focusing on the Appalachian region, and as development director for Charlottesville’s Legal Aid Justice Center.
Director for public policy and economic development, Dominion Energy Inc.
One of the biggest factors that attracted John Larson to Dominion Energy in 1996 was the opportunity the company allowed to learn entrepreneurship methods. It was an era in which utility companies were starting new businesses, and Dominion ventured into new business lines unlike a traditionally vertically integrated power utility, he recalls. Later, Larson joined Dominion’s alternative energy solutions team and worked on laying the stage for the planned $9.8 billion wind farm’s two pilot wind turbines 27 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach. Now the project is progressing quickly. “It’s just exciting because every day, there’s something that comes up that you get to learn about and you get to share with others,” he says, as well as “advancing to meet that renewable portfolio standard that has been put in place with the Virginia Clean Economy Act.”
Jamica Nadina Love
Chief diversity officer, Virginia Military Institute
Jamica Love, a Boston native with more than two decades advising higher education institutions, is still adjusting to life in a small town where people recognize her in the drug store and deer show up in her backyard. Love has one of the state’s highest-profile roles, leading VMI’s diversity, equity and inclusion efforts since July, after a state investigation revealed racist incidents and sexual assaults and harassment against cadets. Love has spent her first few months speaking with faculty, staff, students and alumni and building a peer-implemented program to improve safety for cadets who have been victimized. “VMI, to me, is a perfect training ground for improvement,” Love says. “We don’t bring cadets in here to fail.”
Executive director, Fort Monroe Authority
Glenn Oder has served as executive director of the Fort Monroe Authority since 2011, when the military base at Old Point Comfort was retired and its land was divided between the state and federal governments. Previously a Republican state delegate representing Newport News, Oder reports to a 14-member board appointed by the city of Hampton and the governor. Noting that Fort Monroe is where the first enslaved Africans entered the New World in 1619, Oder says his job has “caused me to have a much deeper understanding of how complicated our society is.” During the Civil War, enslaved people sought freedom at the fort when it was occupied by Union soldiers. Aside from promoting Fort Monroe’s historic importance, Oder also is seeking development opportunities for Fort Monroe’s 1 million-plus square feet of commercial space. This year, the authority approved a lease for a $40 million redevelopment of the fort’s marina to include a hotel, restaurant and conference center.
Angela D. Reddix
Founder, president and CEO, ARDX
In September, Ebony magazine named ARDX President and CEO Angela Reddix to its 2021 Power 100 list, recognizing her in its Innovation Leaders category for her work supporting female small business owners during the pandemic. In 2020, Reddix launched an initiative to help 20 women-owned small businesses with $2,020 grants. A second round this year awarded $20,000 grants plus mentoring, business coaching and training. An inductee of Old Dominion University’s Strome Entrepreneurial Hall of Fame, Reddix founded ARDX, her Norfolk-based health care management and IT consulting firm, in 2006, with the company going on to land more than $178 million in government contracts. She has founded mentorship programs for women and girls in Hampton Roads and says her purpose is to transform communities of poverty into prosperity. “To whom much is given,” Reddix says, “much is required.”
David M. Sams
Executive director, Community Tax Law Project
Five years ago, David Sams left his private practice as a tax and estate attorney to lead the Community Tax Law Project (CTLP), a nonprofit that provides free legal help to low-income individuals and families struggling with tax problems. Sams has found he enjoys the diversity that comes with working with CTLP clients across the state. “The issues facing someone down in, say, Danville are very different than the issues of a low-income person in Northern Virginia, who’s driving an Uber, versus someone who’s working as a general laborer somewhere in Southwest Virginia,” explains Sams, a 2021 Lead Virginia class member. Founded in 1992, CTLP is the nation’s oldest independent clinic serving low-income taxpayers struggling with tax disputes and served as a model for similar clinics across the United States.
Senior manager of community impact, Altria Group Inc.
Community involvement has been a part of Immanuel Sutherland’s life since he joined a service-oriented fraternity at James Madison University, from which he graduated in 1993. The Richmond native worked in procurement for Altria, parent company of Philip Morris USA, before moving to community impact, which oversees Altria’s corporate donations to local nonprofits. He oversees giving ranging in focus from arts and culture to affordable housing and homeownership to initiatives promoting criminal justice reform and diversity, equity and inclusion. His efforts have included bringing “The Dirty South” art exhibit to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and managing Altria’s $3 million gift to the Better Housing Coalition, the affordable housing nonprofit’s largest-ever corporate donation. A member of Lead Virginia’s 2021 class, Sutherland is passionate about breaking down issues that divide communities. “Anywhere you have a community that thrives, you’ve got to have people that care about inclusion and appreciate the differences in others,” he says.
Executive director, Old Dominion University’s Institute for Coastal Adaptation and Resilience
Jessica Whitehead remembers waking during a tornado warning after moving to Kansas as a child. “As a kid, you can either freak out about that situation or think the clouds swirling around above you [are] really, really cool, and I was the second one.” Whitehead moved to ODU in February, where she leads its new institute focusing on the humanitarian and policy aspects of climate change, including adapting to it and building resiliency against it, passions she discovered while working on her Ph.D. at Penn State. At her earlier job as North Carolina’s first chief resiliency officer, she witnessed how devastating hurricanes can be, even far from the ocean. She also developed Georgetown University’s course on climate change and emergency management.