The 2022 list of Virginia’s top influencers
In an increasingly digital world, the nature of what being influential means continues to evolve, but true influence — and the accompanying power it brings to gain support and buy-in for big ideas — requires more than just clicks, likes and followers.
Virginia Business’ annual list of the commonwealth’s 50 most influential people provides our take on the state’s top movers and shakers. And to better reflect our annual Virginia 500 issue, this year’s list has been enlarged to include representatives from business, nonprofits, media, state government and higher education.
Some new entrants to this year’s list, such as Pulitzer Prize-winning Richmond Times-Dispatch columnist Michael Paul Williams, are here in recognition of their impact as thought leaders. Others, such as newly promoted Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc. CEO Chris Kastner, are included in acknowledgment of the power and prominence their positions carry.
Read on to learn how each of these individuals are shaping Virginia.
Nancy Howell Agee, president and CEO, Carilion Clinic, Roanoke
Why she is influential: Agee leads nonprofit health system Carilion Clinic, which serves more than 1 million people in Virginia and West Virginia and is the Roanoke Valley’s largest employer. The health system partners with Virginia Tech in the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine. Over the next seven years, Carilion will invest more than $1 billion through expansions and modernizations of its buildings, including a 500,000-square-foot expansion of Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital.
Recent developments: In January, Agee was picked to serve on
Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s medical advisory team, which is briefing him on the pandemic. Also, in July 2021, work started on the $15 million renovation of Carilion Franklin Memorial Hospital, and in October 2021, Carilion opened a new hub for children’s services at Tanglewood Mall in Roanoke County. Meanwhile, the health system is raising $100 million for a new cancer center.
John C. Asbury, president and CEO, Atlantic Union Bankshares, Richmond
Why he is influential: Asbury became Atlantic Union’s president in 2016 and its CEO in 2017, and then built the company into the largest regional bank headquartered in Virginia, with 1,918 employees and 130 branches. He is the chairman of the Mid-Size Bank Coalition of America and chaired the Virginia Bankers Association in 2020-21.
Recent developments: The bank opened two new locations in Richmond in 2021, and is set to close 16 branches by March. As of Dec. 31, 2021, the bank reported total assets of $20.1 billion and a net annual income of $252 million. Amid the Great Resignation and competition for talent, Atlantic Union expanded its parental leave to include fathers and adoptive parents, and Asbury has provided vocal support of a hybrid work model for employees who can work from home.
G. Robert Aston Jr., executive chairman, TowneBank, Portsmouth
Why he is influential: Aston co-founded TowneBank in 1999 and grew it into the largest regional bank in Hampton Roads, with more than 40 locations and 1,800 employees in Virginia. He began his banking career in 1964 and has held leadership roles with Citizen Trust Co., Commerce Bank and BB&T of Virginia. Aston is a board member for Virginia Wesleyan University, the Virginia Business Higher Education Council, Reinvent Hampton Roads and the GO Virginia Foundation. In the fourth quarter of 2021, TowneBank reported total assets of $16.36 billion.
Recent developments: Aston was named the 2021 First Citizen of Hampton Roads by the Hampton Roads Chamber in December 2021, and Forbes named TowneBank the No. 16 “Best Bank in America” last year. In July 2021, TowneBank acquired Tennessee-based vacation property rental company Venture Resorts Inc. In January, TowneBank announced that co-founder and CEO J. Morgan Davis will retire this year, but Aston will continue to serve as executive chairman for his three-year term.
Thomas I. Barkin, president and CEO, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, Richmond
Why he is influential: Barkin has led the Fed’s Fifth District since 2018, overseeing monetary policy and security of the financial system that employs 2,700 people and oversees a region that includes Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia and the Carolinas. Before joining the Richmond Fed, Barkin spent 30 years at global consulting firm McKinsey & Co. A member of the Emory University board of trustees, Barkin is also an avid golfer and serves on the U.S. Golf Association’s executive committee.
Recent developments: Barkin has noticed the challenges faced by small and rural towns in his travels for the Richmond Fed. Education, broadband, labor and health obstacles remain common themes barring some communities from success. In January, Barkin addressed the Virginia Bankers Association and Virginia Chamber in a financial forecast event, saying that the country has seen a 28% boost in household net worth in the past two years, but supply chain issues are likely to last for another year.
Gilbert T. Bland, chairman, The Giljoy Group, Virginia Beach
Why he is influential: A native of King George County, Bland has run a restaurant management group with 70 fast food restaurants throughout Virginia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., for more than 30 years. He also is president and chairman of the Urban League of Hampton Roads and served as chair of the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia. Bland is a board member for Sentara Healthcare and a member of Truist Financial Corp.’s community advisory board.
Recent developments: In September 2021, the Urban League received $2.5 million from the Virginia Housing Development Authority’s Sponsoring Partnerships and Revitalizing Communities (SPARC) program to assist Black first-time homebuyers in Hampton Roads. Bland also enlisted music superstar Pharrell Williams as keynote speaker for the Urban League’s 38th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Community Leaders event, held virtually in January.
Robert M. “Bob” Blue, chair, president and CEO, Dominion Energy Inc., Richmond
Why he is influential: Blue took over the commonwealth’s largest utility in October 2020 after working in a variety of roles at the Fortune 500 company for a decade and a half. Richmond-based Dominion operates in 16 states, delivering energy to more than 7 million customers. Blue’s tenure aligns with new state clean energy mandates, including carbon-free generation by 2045. To help attain that, Dominion is developing a 2.6-gigawatt, $9.8 billion commercial offshore wind farm 27 miles off the Virginia Beach coast that’s expected to help diversify Hampton Roads’ economy. Blue serves on the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. He’s also a member of the University of Virginia’s board of visitors.
Recent developments: Dominion completed the sale of its Questar Pipelines in December 2021 in a deal valued at $1.97 billion. Blue said at the time that the sale of the pipeline, which provides transportation and underground storage in Utah, Wyoming and Colorado, would help fund the utility’s clean energy plans. Dominion also ordered 176 turbines for its offshore wind farm from Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy S.A. Parts and blades for the turbines will be constructed at the Spanish firm’s new Portsmouth facility.
Jamelle Bouie, opinion columnist, The New York Times, Charlottesville
Why he is influential: A University of Virginia graduate, Bouie joined the Times in 2019 as a columnist and also is a political analyst for CBS News. Bouie grew up in Virginia Beach and lives in Charlottesville, and on his Instagram feed, you’ll see local photos he takes with a collection of cameras. Before joining the Times, Bouie covered politics for The Daily Beast and Slate, and he occasionally tweets about Charlottesville municipal politics.
Recent developments: Bouie’s New York Times columns about police violence, health care and voting rights won a Hillman Prize last year, a recognition of his impact on social justice. He’s also a resident scholar this academic year at the U.Va. Center for Politics. On the lighter side, he co-hosts a podcast about post-Cold War thriller movies, and reviews breakfast cereals for website Serious Eats.
Jennifer Boykin, president, Newport News Shipbuilding, and executive vice president, Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc., Newport News
Why she is influential: Boykin has led operations at Newport News Shipbuilding since 2017, the first woman to do so. With about 25,000 employees, it is the state’s largest industrial employer, and the shipyard plans to add another 3,000 skilled tradespeople and engineers in 2022. The company is the nation’s only builder of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and reports about $4 billion in annual revenue. In 2019, NNS was awarded part of the U.S. Navy’s largest shipbuilding contract, worth $22.2 billion, to build nine submarines.
Recent developments: In March 2021, the Biden administration ordered a 10th submarine, which bumped up NNS’ contract share to $9.8 billion. Other projects are at various stages of work, including upgrading the $13.3 billion aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford, which is expected to leave on its maiden deployment later this year. Three other Ford-class carriers are under construction with delivery expected during the next decade. Boykin was named alumnus of the year in 2021 by the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy’s alumni association.
Victor Branch, Richmond market president, Bank of America Corp., Richmond
Why he is influential: Branch has been with Bank of America for nearly four decades and in 2015 was named president of the Richmond region, where he oversees 20 branches and 2,000 employees. He sits on the boards of ChamberRVA, Venture Richmond and the Virginia Museum of History and Culture, as well as the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges. Branch also serves on boards for his alma maters, including William & Mary’s board of visitors. He chairs the Richard Bland College Committee.
Recent developments: Branch’s team was awarded the bank’s first Anne Finucane Community Impact Award last year for their volunteerism and philanthropy. Branch believes the award is the result of how quickly his team reacted during COVID-19, including making a $100,000 grant to Area Congregations Together in Service, which helped 13,000 local families, 80% of which were led by single Black women.
Richard Cullen, counselor to Gov. Glenn Youngkin, Richmond
Why he’s influential: Formerly senior partner and chairman of McGuireWoods, Cullen has spent his long legal career in and out of public service. He served on the election recount team for President George W. Bush in 2000, and was U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia from 1991 to 1994. He also served as Virginia’s attorney general during George Allen’s term. At McGuireWoods, he represented Vice President Mike Pence during special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election, and led the legal team for the parents of Otto Warmbier, the University of Virginia student who died of injuries sustained in North Korea.
Recent developments: In January, Cullen announced he was departing the firm to join Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s Cabinet as counselor. He previously assisted Virginia Military Institute during a state probe into systemic racism in 2020, though the college switched firms early last year. He also led the investigation for Eastern Virginia Medical School into a racist photo in Gov. Ralph Northam’s yearbook pages that surfaced in early 2018.
Barry DuVal, president and CEO, Virginia Chamber of Commerce, Richmond
Why he is influential: DuVal is in his 12th year leading the chamber, which acts as the voice of Virginia’s business community. A former state secretary of commerce and trade, DuVal has grown chamber membership from 847 in 2010 to more than 28,000 businesses at the start of 2022. In the past year, membership grew by about 1,100 members. He’s also a past mayor of Newport News and was president and CEO of Kaufman & Canoles Consulting LLC.
Recent developments: The chamber released its statewide economic development strategic plan, Blueprint Virginia 2030, in December 2021, and is working with Gov. Glenn Youngkin on supporting the state’s business priorities. In the past year, Virginia earned recognition from Business Facilities for having the nation’s Best Business Climate and ranked No. 1 as a Top State for Business on CNBC’s annual list for an unprecedented second time in a row.
Richard Fairbank, co-founder, chairman, CEO and president, Capital One Financial Corp., McLean
Why he is influential: Fairbank started Capital One in 1994 and steered the bank to No. 99 on the 2021 Fortune 500 list. As of
Dec. 31, 2021, Capital One had $432.3 billion in assets. Fairbank hasn’t taken a base salary since 1997, but his total compensation for 2020 was $20.1 million, mostly due to a $16.75 million equity payout.
Recent developments: In December, Fairbank paid a $637,950 civil penalty from the Federal Trade Commission, settling claims for violating antitrust laws in finalizing acquisitions of company stock. A Treasury Department bureau levied a $390 million fine against Capital One in January 2021 over federal violations related to a former check processing and security unit that closed in 2014. Capital One has delayed reopening offices, announcing in October 2021 that it would not forecast a new date for implementing a hybrid work schedule. Also in October 2021, the new 1,600-seat Capital One Hall for the performing arts opened in Tysons.
W. Heywood Fralin, chairman, Retirement Unlimited Inc., Roanoke
Why he is influential: A significant donor to both the University of Virginia, his alma mater, and Virginia Tech, as well as Roanoke Valley organizations, Fralin was first an attorney and then a health care executive. Currently he is the chair of Retirement Unlimited Inc., which operates several assisted living facilities across the state and manages three others in Florida. The company is looking to expand throughout the Southeast, Fralin says. He also sits on the boards of the Virginia Western Community College Educational Foundation Inc. and GO Virginia. A $50 million donation in 2018 from Fralin and his wife, Cynthia, and their family trust to Virginia Tech’s Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC in Roanoke was the largest philanthropic gift in the university’s history.
Recent developments: Medical Facilities of America Inc., which operates 39 skilled nursing facilities across Virginia and was previously chaired by Fralin, was sold to Richmond-based Innovative Healthcare Management in June 2021.
Why he is influential: Edwards stepped into the top leadership role at the Virginia Port Authority in early 2021, as pandemic-related consumer demand and cargo surges triggered record volumes at the Port of Virginia. The port, which operates six terminals and a chassis pool, processed a record 3.5 million TEUs (20-foot equivalent units) during 2021, up from 2.8 million in 2020. Edwards serves on the boards of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership and Through Transport Mutual Insurance Association Ltd.
Recent developments: According to a report issued in January by the William & Mary Mason School of Business and Mangum Economics, the port set records in fiscal year 2021, including generating more than $100.1 billion in ancillary economic impact. Meanwhile, dredging work continues to make the Norfolk Harbor the East Coast’s widest and deepest port. An $80 million expansion of Norfolk International Terminal approved in November will increase capacity from 350,000 container lifts annually to 610,000, and two new ship-to-shore cranes with the capacity to lift two 20-foot-long containers simultaneously are expected to be in use by summer.
William F. “Billy” Gifford Jr., CEO, Altria Group Inc., Henrico County
Why he is influential: As of April 2020, Gifford, the former president and CEO of Altria subsidiary Philip Morris USA, has led the parent company, which employs 5,500 people in the United States. In fiscal year 2021, Altria reported $26 billion in net revenue, down 0.5% from 2020, and Gifford predicted a growth rate of 4% to 7% in 2022 during the company’s earnings call in January. Gifford serves on the boards of Anheuser-Busch InBev — in which Altria has a 10% stake — and Catalyst Inc., a nonprofit that focuses on building workspaces with women in mind.
Recent developments: Altria was forced to stop selling its IQOS tobacco heating device in 2021 after the International Trade Commission found that the device violated rival R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.’s patents. In January, Altria said it expects the device to remain off the market throughout 2022. In October 2021, Altria sold its winemaking division, Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, for $1.2 billion to a New York private equity firm.
C. Todd Gilbert, speaker, Virginia House of Delegates, Shenandoah
Why he is influential: A lawyer in the Shenandoah Valley who was formerly House minority leader, Gilbert became House speaker in January after Republicans regained control of the legislative body in a sweep last Election Day. A former Shenandoah County prosecutor, Gilbert has received “A” ratings from the Virginia Chamber of Commerce and the National Rifle Association.
Recent developments: Although Democrats still control the state Senate, Gilbert is in a greater position of power after the election of Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin, who led the winning GOP ticket with newly elected Lt. Gov. Winsome Earle-Sears and Attorney General Jason Miyares. Gilbert’s priorities for the 2022 General Assembly session included rolling back a 2020 act requiring the state to transition to all clean energy by 2050, increasing charter school options and providing tax rebates of $300 per individual or $600 for joint tax filers.
Amy Gilliland, president, General Dynamics Information Technology Inc., Falls Church
Why she is influential: Having guided General Dynamics’ IT business through its 2018 merger and integration with CSRA Inc., Gilliland oversees 30,000 employees, including 8,250 in Virginia. GDIT’s president since 2017, she has taken an active role in supporting employee wellbeing and eliminating the stigma around seeking mental health support. She serves on the boards of The Bank of New York Mellon Corp. and the Northern Virginia Technology Council and has helped raise awareness for Rett syndrome through a research trust.
Recent developments: GDIT opened a center in St. Louis to advance the development of new tech as well as career paths for employees from nontraditional backgrounds. It also won a five-year, $4.5 billion award last year from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency for user-facing and data center services for multiple locations worldwide. Other recent awards include a $829 million contract for IT help desk services for the Defense Intelligence Agency and a $518 million task order from the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command.
Jonathan P. Harmon, chairman, McGuireWoods LLP, Richmond
Why he is influential: Since 2017, Harmon has led the state’s largest law firm as its first Black chairman. Harmon learned how to lead in the Army, where he served in the 1st Cavalry Division during Operation Desert Storm. He’s also a nationally recognized trial lawyer who has led the firm’s business and securities department, as well as its diversity and inclusion initiatives. His clients include Verizon Communications Inc., DuPont de Nemours Inc., Yahoo Inc., International Paper Co. and CSX Corp. Harmon was one of five civilian experts retained by the U.S. Army to investigate the command climate at Fort Hood, Texas, after the murder of Spc. Vanessa Guillén, releasing a 136-page report in December 2020.
Recent developments: In January 2022, Harmon’s wife, Rhonda, died at 59 from leukemia. They met while both served in the Army, and she was also a lawyer, specializing in civil rights law while working at Mezzullo & McCandlish LLP. The couple volunteered as prison ministers through Faith Landmarks Ministries.
Victor Hoskins, president and CEO, Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, Fairfax
Why he is influential: Hoskins joined Fairfax County in August 2019 on a career high, having helped seal the deal to bring Amazon.com Inc.’s HQ2 campus to Arlington, where he was director of economic development. He also was deputy mayor for planning and development in Washington, D.C., during a time of rapid growth and redevelopment, and co-founded the Northern Virginia Economic Development Alliance, an organization promoting regional cooperation. During his time in Fairfax, Hoskins has worked with about 330 companies, adding more than 24,000 jobs in Virginia’s most populous county. He also serves on the board of directors for the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce, as well as its advisory board for diversity, equity and inclusion.
Recent developments: Fairfax continued to bring in new companies during the pandemic, including global management consulting firm Guidehouse Inc., which opened a new headquarters with 1,500 workers in Tysons in January. StarKist Co. is set to move its headquarters to Reston this year, and software firm Qualtrics announced in December 2021 a $15.9 million expansion to create 400 more jobs.
Brian Huseman, vice president of public policy, Amazon.com Inc., Arlington
Why he is influential: Since 2012, Huseman has been involved in public policy for the e-tail giant, taking his current position in 2016. He is a former U.S. Department of Justice attorney and Federal Trade Commission general counsel, and much of his current work entails getting permits and meeting deadlines and other expectations at Amazon’s HQ2 campus in Arlington, a $2.5 billion-plus project expected to produce 25,000 jobs by 2030. He also acts as an advocate for the company on Capitol Hill.
Recent developments: Two towers comprising the first phase of Amazon’s HQ2 campus, known as Metropolitan Park, are expected to open in 2023, and as of December 2021, 3,500 people have been hired for HQ2. Also moving along is the county’s approval process of HQ2’s second phase, a three-building project known as PenPlace that will include the spiral-shaped Helix structure. In January, Amazon took a stance in favor of federal decriminalization of marijuana, with Huseman saying it would remove barriers to hiring people with prior convictions.
Sheila Johnson, CEO, Salamander Hotels & Resorts, Middleburg
Why she is influential: Johnson’s Middleburg-based Salamander Resort & Spa routinely lands on top destinations lists. Similarly, Johnson is no stranger to Forbes’ list of America’s Richest Self-Made Women, ranking last year at No. 39, with an estimated net worth of $750 million. But, Johnson, who co-founded the BET Networks and who also has a stake in three Washington, D.C., professional sports teams, told CNN Business that she’d prefer the wealthy be defined by how they give back, rather than their bank balances. Johnson founded the Middleburg Film Festival and has worked to increase diversity in education, the arts and the hospitality industry. With ownership stakes in the WNBA Mystics, NBA Wizards and NHL Capitals, she is the only Black woman with ownership in three professional sports teams.
Recent developments: In addition to operating properties in Jamaica, South Carolina and Florida, Salamander was selected in December 2021 to manage Colorado’s Aspen Meadows Resort, owned by The Aspen Institute. Johnson also led fundraising efforts to construct the U.S. Park Police Horse Stables and Education Center on the National Mall.
Dr. J. Stephen Jones, president and CEO, Inova Health System, Falls Church
Why he is influential: A renowned cancer physician and urologist, Jones says the quality of research and patient care at Inova attracted him to Northern Virginia’s largest not-for-profit hospital system, which he’s led since 2018. With five hospitals, Inova’s workforce includes more than 18,000 employees, 1,936 licensed beds and the region’s only Level I Trauma Center. Jones previously was Cleveland Clinic’s president of regional hospitals and family health centers and served as professor of surgery at Case Western Reserve University’s medical college.
Recent developments: Inova’s $1 billion plan to renovate, modernize and expand its Alexandria Hospital on the site of the vacant Landmark Mall took a step forward when the city purchased a portion of the property and leased it to the health system late last year. Inova also announced it would open a long-term acute care facility at its Mount Vernon Hospital later this year. The expansion fills a gap in Inova’s health care delivery by offering expert treatment for its patients closer to home.
Chris Kastner, president and CEO, Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc., Newport News
Why he is influential: On March 1, Kastner was promoted to lead the nation’s largest military shipbuilder, replacing Mike Petters, who is now executive vice chairman of HII’s board. Kastner became HII’s chief operating officer in February 2021, having served as its chief financial officer and executive vice president since 2016. He also was vice president and CFO of Ingalls Shipbuilding, the Mississippi-based division, and held several executive roles at Northrop Grumman Corp. before that. Kastner serves on boards for Eastern Virginia Medical School and WHRO Public Media.
Recent developments: In addition to the leadership change, 2021 remained busy for HII. A nearly $3 billion contract awarded in early 2021 for the nuclear refueling and modernization of aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis added to the company’s work backlog of $48 billion. HII also completed the $1.65 billion, all-cash purchase of McLean-based defense contractor Alion Science and Technology Corp., which will become part of HII’s Technical Solutions division. HII employs 44,000 people worldwide, including more than 20,000 who work for Newport News Shipbuilding, the state’s largest industrial employer.
Howard P. Kern, president and CEO, Sentara Healthcare, Norfolk
Why he is influential: Kern has spent 40 years in health care, serving in hospital administration, insurance and finance roles. Since 2016, he has led the $9.8 billion, 12-hospital system, which was ranked one of the nation’s top five health systems last year by Fortune and IBM Watson Health. Sentara has embarked on a massive renovation of Sentara Norfolk General Hospital and opened the $93.5 million Sentara Brock Cancer Center in 2020.
Recent developments: In February, Kern announced his intent to retire later this year. A search for his successor is underway. In December 2021, Sentara signed an agreement with Old Dominion University and Eastern Virginia Medical School to collaborate more closely on health care for the Hampton Roads region, which Kern said is the largest metropolitan area without a state university-based medical school. Sentara also announced last summer that it was stepping away from a proposed merger with North Carolina’s Cone Health, which would have created an $11.5 billion system with 17 hospitals. Sentara also agreed last year to support the creation of a School of Public Health with $4 million divided between ODU and Norfolk State University.
Roger A. Krone, chairman and CEO, Leidos Holdings Inc., Reston
Why he is influential: Since 2014, Krone has led the
$12 billion Fortune 500 federal contractor, which employs 43,000 people worldwide. Leidos’ mission is to make the world “healthier, safer and more efficient through technology, engineering and science,” Krone said in a video last year announcing the company’s “Move the Needle” challenge, which awarded a year’s salary to
10 randomly selected workers who had been vaccinated against COVID-19. A licensed pilot, Krone was elected to the National Academy of Engineering last year and chairs the Professional Services Council.
Recent developments: Krone was named Washington Business Journal’s 2021 COVID-19 Response Leader in its annual CEO awards for his efforts to keep employees and others safe during the pandemic. Leidos won several significant federal contracts in the past year, including a $600 million deal to support the Army by collecting, processing, storing and disseminating unclassified geospatial information for the Army Geospatial Center’s Buckeye airborne surveillance program.
Mary McDuffie, president and CEO, Navy Federal Credit Union, Vienna
Why she is influential: McDuffie joined the world’s largest credit union in 1999 and ascended to the top leadership role in 2018. During that time, it has continued to grow. With more than 11 million members and $151 billion in assets, the credit union boasts more than 20,000 employees and contractors. Last year, it ranked No. 15 on Fortune’s list of 40 Best Large Workplaces in Financial Services and Insurance. McDuffie oversaw the launch of the credit union’s first ever mobile app; now, 70% of its members bank digitally through the app and Navy Federal’s website.
Recent developments: While many financial institutions have closed branches during the pandemic, Navy Federal expanded during the past year, albeit slowly, growing from about 340 to 350 branches. Recent additions include branches in California, Texas and Kansas. According to industry news site Banking Dive, about half of the credit union’s branches are located within three miles of a military installation.
Jim McGlothlin, chairman and CEO, The United Co., Bristol
Why he is influential: McGlothlin was a founding partner and then sole owner of the United Coal Co., now The United Co., which sold its coal mine holdings in 2009. He is perhaps best known now as a co-developer, along with Par Ventures LLC President Clyde Stacy, of the $400 million Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Bristol, which will be in the former Bristol Mall. McGlothlin and Stacy were instrumental in changing state gambling laws to allow casinos in select Virginia cities. McGlothlin and his wife, Frances Gibson McGlothlin, have been major donors to their alma mater, William & Mary, and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.
Recent developments: In early December 2021, Hard Rock International Inc. began construction on a temporary casino, which is scheduled to open in the former women’s Belk store by midyear — which would make it the first commercial casino to open in the state. Hard Rock expects the temporary casino to create 600 jobs, while the permanent casino should create 2,000 direct jobs and 1,500 indirect jobs.
Phebe Novakovic, chairman and CEO, General Dynamics Corp., Reston
Why she is influential: In 2021, Forbes ranked Novakovic — Virginia Business’ 2020 Business Person of the Year — the world’s 30th most powerful woman. The former Pentagon and federal Office of Management and Budget official has steered the Fortune 100 aerospace and defense company since 2013, and its annual revenue in 2021 hit $38.5 billion, up 1.4% from 2020. Novakovic serves on the board of JPMorgan Chase & Co. and chairs the Association of the U.S. Army board of directors.
Recent developments: In March 2021, General Dynamics won a $2.4 billion contract option from the U.S. Navy to build a 10th Virginia-class submarine, adding to its December 2019, $22.2 billion contract for nine submarines, the largest ever awarded by the Navy. Last year, the company also landed a spot on a $4.45 billion Air Force contract for the U.S. Defense Department’s Special Access Program as well as a $219 million Homeland Security contract for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ contact center.
Christopher J. Nassetta, President and CEO, Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc., McLean
Why he’s influential: Nassetta has been president and CEO of Hilton since 2007. A member of the World Travel & Tourism Council’s executive board, he also serves on CoStar Group Inc.’s board and chaired The Real Estate Roundtable. At the end of 2021, Hilton had more than 6,800 hotels in 122 countries and territories, with more than 2,000 additional hotels in the pipeline. Hilton added more than 400 hotels last year.
Recent developments: Hilton added 14,700 rooms and approved another 23,600 rooms for development, bringing Hilton’s development pipeline to 404,000 rooms by the end of September 2021. Although the hospitality sector has been greatly impacted by the pandemic, most Hilton hotels that closed temporarily in 2020 have reopened. In a December 2021 interview with Bloomberg, Nassetta said he was confident the business travel market would rebound. Nassetta was named the 2021 Hospitality Executive of the Year by Penn State’s School of Hospitality Management and the university’s Hotel & Restaurant Society.
Dan Pleasant, chief operating officer, Dewberry; chairman, Virginia Economic Development Partnership, Danville
Why he is influential: Pleasant rose through the ranks to become COO at Dewberry, a Fairfax-based nationwide professional services firm with 2,000 employees and 50 offices nationwide. In July 2021, he became chairman of the 17-member board of directors of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, which has helped bring economic development opportunities such as Amazon.com Inc.’s HQ2 East Coast headquarters to the state. The board’s longest serving director, Pleasant has also worked with the Future of the Piedmont Foundation to foster opportunities in Danville and Pittsylvania County.
Recent developments: Pleasant is leading VEDP’s nationwide search for a new president and CEO, following Stephen Moret’s exit at the end of 2021, after the state was named CNBC’s Top State for Business twice in a row. In November 2021, the board tapped Jason El Koubi, VEDP’s executive vice president, as interim president and CEO. The organization also is heavily focused on getting more industrial sites project-ready with state investment.
Buddy Rizer, executive director, department of economic development, Loudoun County
Why he is influential: Loudoun’s reputation as the world’s “Data Center Alley” continued in 2021, with at least $5.8 billion in data center investments, according to the Virginia Economic Development Partnership. Rizer, who joined the county in 2007, has been the architect behind the county’s worldwide prominence as a data center destination. He sits on several boards, including the Northern Virginia Technology Council and the Washington Airports Task Force. Before he was known as a driving force in economic development, Rizer was radio station WWDC DC101’s manager.
Recent developments: DXC Technology is moving its headquarters from Tysons to Ashburn’s One Loudoun campus, the IT services company announced in September 2021. Also in the works is the Rivana at Innovation Station project, a 4.4 million-square-foot mixed-use development next to the future Silver Line extension just over the border from Fairfax County. Loudoun Economic Development has been instrumental in the project, which will be built on land the county pitched as a potential home for Amazon.com Inc.’s HQ2.
Rear Adm. Charles “Chip” Rock, commander, Navy Region Mid-Atlantic, U.S. Navy, Norfolk
Why he is influential: Since 2018, Rock has led 14 installations from Wisconsin through North Carolina, five of which are in the Hampton Roads area. The military’s financial impact on Virginia is undeniable; in fiscal 2020, the service accounted for $15.8 billion in direct local spending, down about $650 million from the previous year. In fiscal year 2020, nearly 90,000 active-duty Navy and Marine Corps personnel served in Hampton Roads alongside 52,000 civilians and contractors. Rock is a member of the Virginia Council on the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children and serves on the board of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce.
Recent developments: In a first, the Navy struck an economic development deal with Virginia Beach in summer 2021 to lease land on Naval Air Station Oceana to private business for in-kind services. The city has about 1,000 acres left to develop; about 400 of those are on Oceana, Rock says.
Horacio D. Rozanski, CEO, Booz Allen Hamilton Inc., McLean
Why he’s influential: The Argentina native became CEO of the Fortune 500 management and information technology consulting firm in 2015, rising from his 1991 entry as an intern in Booz Allen’s Buenos Aires, Argentina, office. He’s helped guide the firm through the separation of its government and commercial businesses into two companies, its initial public offering in 2010 and its strategic shift to focus on mission-critical, high-margin solutions. Rozanski chairs the Children’s National Medical Center board.
Recent developments: In June 2021, Booz Allen Hamilton acquired Herndon-based Liberty IT Solutions LLC for $725 million, integrating it into its Civilian Services Group. In the last quarter of 2021, productivity declined at Booz Allen due to the omicron variant of COVID-19, Rozanski said during a late January earnings call. The firm cut its growth outlook for its current fiscal year, which ends March 31, from 7-10% down to 5.7-7.2%.
James E. Ryan, president, University of Virginia, Charlottesville
Why he is influential: Head of the state’s flagship public university since 2018, Ryan is also an alumnus of U.Va.’s law school. He previously was dean of Harvard’s Graduate School of Education and clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist. In recent years, he has led a $5 billion capital fundraising campaign and dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic with remote teaching and learning, as well as requiring vaccinations of all students and employees to enter Grounds, although that mandate was dropped in 2022 after Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares issued a new ruling.
Recent developments: U.Va.’s 2018 capital campaign has hit $3.8 billion, thanks in part to two recent $50 million gifts. A June 2021 donation from alumni Martha and Bruce Karsh will establish the Karsh Institute of Democracy, and a second gift by philanthropist Tessa Ader will go toward building a new performing arts center. Both will be on the Emmet-Ivy Corridor, a 14.5-acre parcel envisioned as a gateway to the university.
Timothy “Tim” Sands, president, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg
Why he is influential: Virginia Tech’s profile has grown since Sands’ arrival in 2014. While construction begins on the $1 billion Virginia Tech Innovation Campus in Alexandria, the university’s student diversity is growing. Underrepresented minorities and Pell Grant-eligible, first-generation and veteran students now make up 40% of incoming classes. Sands also chairs the boards of Jefferson Science Associates LLC and the Virginia Space Grant Consortium.
Recent developments: In May 2021, The Boeing Co. pledged $50 million to foster diversity at the Innovation Campus, followed by a $12.5 million gift in November 2021 from Northrop Grumman Corp. for the satellite school’s quantum information science and engineering programs. In December 2021, alumnus Norris E. Mitchell and his wife, Wendy, made the largest single-donor gift in Virginia Tech’s history: $35 million to establish a new engineering school building in Blacksburg. A $90 million, 139,000-square-foot addition to the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC in Roanoke opened in October 2021, and Tech announced in August 2021 that its $1.5 billion “Boundless Impact” fundraising campaign launched in 2019 has already exceeded $1 billion and is on track to reach its goal by 2027.
Michael J. Saylor, chairman and CEO, MicroStrategy Inc., Tysons
Why he is influential: The head of a data mining technology company with major corporate clients worldwide, Saylor is best known in recent years as a high-profile cryptocurrency booster. Between August 2020 and Nov. 29, 2021, MicroStrategy invested $3.57 billion in bitcoins, which have fluctuated wildly in value. Saylor is a constant presence on Twitter, proclaiming the good news about bitcoin.
Recent developments: In January, Saylor told Bloomberg News that he never intends to sell the company’s 124,391 bitcoins, which at the time were worth about $5.2 billion. MicroStrategy’s stock has risen and fallen over the past
18 months, following the cryptocurrency’s worth, and Saylor has predicted that eventually the coins — which hovered around $41,000 in January — will be worth $6 million each one day. On Feb. 1, Saylor interviewed Twitter founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey as part of MicroStrategy’s “Bitcoin for Corporations 2022” conference. During the conversation, Dorsey criticized Facebook for pursuing its own failed cryptocurrency strategy rather than supporting bitcoin.
Stu Shea, chairman, president and CEO, Peraton Inc., Herndon
Why he is influential: A longtime leader in national security, Shea built some of the CIA’s first computer systems, founded the U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation and oversaw the split of Science Applications International Corp. into Leidos Holdings Inc. and a new SAIC. He now heads a national security contractor that is undergoing a giant integration, having purchased Chantilly IT contractor Perspecta Inc. and Northrop Grumman Corp.’s federal IT and mission support services business for a combined $10.5 billion in 2021.
Recent developments: Peraton is in the process of moving its headquarters from Herndon to Reston, a migration that should be complete by September. Corporate leadership, three business sectors and Peraton’s Mission Capability Innovation Center will be housed in the Reston Town Center office. According to the company, Peraton has 19,000 employees and 150 offices worldwide, and is reviewing its office footprint.
Dan Snyder, co-owner and co-CEO, Washington Commanders, Ashburn
Why he is influential: Majority owner of the Loudoun County-headquartered NFL team since 1999, Snyder has had a busy and controversy-filled year. Under pressure from corporate sponsors, Snyder dropped the team’s 87-year-old Redskins name, which was broadly perceived as racist to Native Americans. After a year with the interim Washington Football Team moniker, the team announced in February that its permanent name would be the Washington Commanders. The former owner of Snyder Communications LP, Snyder ranked No. 281 on Forbes’ list of wealthiest Americans in 2021, with a net worth of about $4 billion. Forbes also ranked the team No. 5 on its list of most valuable NFL teams, estimating its worth at $4.2 billion.
Recent developments: In June 2021, the NFL fined the team $10 million after 15 former employees alleged they were sexually harassed and verbally abused during Snyder’s tenure, and one former employee accused Snyder of harassing her. Tanya Snyder, his wife, was named co-CEO in June 2021, with Snyder temporarily stepping away from day-to-day duties. In April 2021, Snyder and his family members purchased minority ownership shares and became 100% team owners. Gov. Glenn Youngkin and other state lawmakers are interested in bringing the Commanders’ new stadium to Loudoun or Prince William counties.
Travis Staton, president and CEO, United Way of Southwest Virginia, Abingdon
Why he is influential: Staton has led the United Way of Southwest Virginia since 2005 and guided it through eight mergers and acquisitions into a key player in the region’s economic and workforce development. He oversees the organization’s work to improve the health, education and financial stability of Virginians across 17 counties and four cities — nearly 20% of the state and its poorest region. Staton led the creation of the Ignite Program, designed to build a talent pipeline from schools to the workforce. In 2018, Charity Navigator named the innovative Southwest chapter one of the 10 best United Way chapters out of more than 1,200 nationwide.
Recent developments: In December 2021, the United Way of Southwest Virginia launched Ready SWVA, an initiative to expand access to affordable child care and increase the number of credentialed teachers. Child care in Southwest Virginia can nearly cancel out a parent’s take-home pay, Staton said when announcing the initiative.
Clyde Stacy, president, Par Ventures LLC, Bristol
Why he is influential: A Bristol native, Stacy is a former coal mining magnate who headed Rapoca Energy Co. In 2018, he bought the former Bristol Mall for $2.6 million and approached his friend Jim McGlothlin, CEO of The United Co., about building a casino there. The two were instrumental in getting the state General Assembly to legalize commercial casinos in economically challenged Virginia cities and are co-developers of the $400 million Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Bristol.
Recent developments: In July 2021, the licensed medical cannabis processor that Stacy had invested in, Dharma Pharmaceuticals LLC, sold to Chicago-based Green Thumb Industries for $80 million. Also, with Hard Rock International Inc.
having begun construction of the temporary casino quarters at Bristol Mall, the city is expected to have gaming opportunities by midyear, pending approval of its license by the Virginia Lottery Board.
Julie Sweet, CEO and chair, Accenture, Arlington
Why she is influential: Sweet became the Fortune Global 500 professional services company’s global chief in 2019, having joined the Irish company in 2010. In September 2021, she also became chair of the corporation’s board. Previously a partner at the New York law firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP, Sweet serves on the World Economic Forum’s board and chairs the board of Catalyst Inc., a global nonprofit that promotes women-friendly workplaces.
Recent developments: In 2021, Sweet named David Droga, founder and chairman of ad agency Droga5, as CEO of Accenture Interactive, the company’s marketing arm. The hire is viewed as a move to bring more creative fire to the consultancy, with an aim to win clients from traditional ad agencies. During January’s World Economic Forum conference in Davos, Switzerland, Sweet emphasized that corporations with strong environmental sustainability plans are more profitable overall.
Bruce L. Thompson, CEO, Gold Key | PHR, Virginia Beach
Why he is influential: The 2021 Virginia Business Person of the Year, Thompson is a major player in Hampton Roads’ hospitality sector, having renovated the historic Cavalier Hotel in Virginia Beach as the centerpiece of his $435 million Cavalier Resort, a 21-acre group of hotels, restaurants and housing at the Oceanfront. Gold Key | PHR employs 1,700 people and owns 20 properties worth more than $500 million. A longtime political insider, he has chaired the inauguration committees for several governors on both sides of the aisle, most recently overseeing the nine official inauguration events for Gov. Glenn Youngkin, including the swearing-in ceremony.
Recent developments: Gold Key | PHR is in the final stage of the resort’s construction, with the Embassy Suites expected to open in January 2023. Thompson also is part of a development team that has proposed one of three competing plans for the redevelopment of Norfolk’s Military Circle Mall, which would see an amphitheater as the centerpiece of a $663 million multiuse development.
Warren Thompson, founder, president and chairman, Thompson Hospitality Corp., Reston
Why he is influential: A lifelong entrepreneur who grew up in Windsor, Thompson started the nation’s largest minority-owned food and facilities management company in 1992, an empire that now includes several restaurants and chains, as well as dining services clients including universities, hospitals and corporations. Thompson serves on the boards of Performance Food Group Co. and Duke Realty Corp. and is a trustee at his alma mater, Hampden-Sydney College.
Recent developments: In November 2021, Sizzle Acquisition Corp., a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) for which Thompson serves as a board director, closed its initial public offering at $155 million, at $10 per unit. The company is initially focusing on restaurant, hospitality, retail and real estate businesses seeking to go public. Sizzle is led by Chairman and CEO Steve Salis, a co-founder of the Washington, D.C.-based &pizza chain.
Eric Terry, president, Virginia Restaurant, Lodging & Travel Association, Richmond
Why he is influential: In 2014, Terry began channeling his three decades of hospitality experience into leading VRLTA, serving as the voice of the 1,500-member association. During the past two years, he has been calling attention to the ongoing financial effects of COVID-19 on hotels and other hospitality businesses — particularly those in Northern Virginia that rely on business travel — by lobbying lawmakers for relief and speaking with news media.
Recent developments: In April 2021, Terry sent a letter to the chairs of the General Assembly’s appropriations committees asking lawmakers to dedicate $270 million of the state’s federal American Rescue Plan funding to helping hospitality-related industries. In its August 2021 special session, the General Assembly approved a plan for the funding, including then-Gov. Ralph Northam’s proposal to allocate $353 million for small business recovery and assisting the tourism industry. Virginia Tourism Corp. received $50 million of that funding to distribute among the state’s 133 localities for destination marketing. Today, the industry continues to struggle with labor shortages and supply chain problems, Terry has noted.
Why he is influential: The co-founder of Politico and a former reporter for The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal, VandeHei launched Axios as an inside-the-Beltway bullet-point news site in 2016. Since then, more than 2.1 million people have subscribed to its daily newsletters, and the publication was valued at $430 million after a round of funding from Atlanta-based media and communications conglomerate Cox Enterprises Inc. The digital media startup was expected to bring $83 million in revenue in 2021. VandeHei serves on the boards for The Pulitzer Prizes and the Partnership for Public Service.
Recent developments: In December 2021, after 57 episodes, HBO chose not to renew Axios’ documentary series for a fifth season. The Axios Local newsletter is up and running in 14 “test cities,” with plans to expand to 25 cities by mid-2022, according to a New Year’s Day statement from VandeHei. Axios Pro, three paid subscription newsletters focused on financial tech, retail and health care tech, started in January. Last year, the company launched Axios HQ, an email product for companies to start their own internal newsletters using the Axios style.
Kathy J. Warden, chairman, CEO and president, Northrop Grumman Corp., Falls Church
Why she is influential: Warden has led aerospace and defense giant Northrop Grumman since 2019, having joined the Fortune 500 company in 2008 after working for General Dynamics Corp. and Veridian Corp. A James Madison University graduate, she serves on several boards, including Merck & Co. Inc. and the Aerospace Industries Association.
Recent developments: Northrop Grumman received a $1.4 billion Army contract in January for production of the Integrated Battle Command System, which will serve as a centerpiece to the service’s modernization of air and missile defenses. December 2021 saw the launch of the $10 billion James Webb Space Telescope, which Northrop Grumman helped to manufacture, and NASA awarded the company a $3.19 billion contract to support rocket production for its Artemis program through 2031. According to Northrop Grumman’s fourth quarter 2021 earnings call in January, its sales fell by 15% in the final three months of 2021 due to labor and supply chain shortages. Warden predicted sales between $36.2 billion and $36.6 billion this year, below prior forecasts of $37.03 billion.
Michael Paul Williams, columnist, Richmond Times-Dispatch, Richmond
Why he’s influential: For the past three decades, Williams has chronicled his hometown’s story as a columnist for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. In June 2021, he won the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary, based on a series of columns focusing on Richmond’s racial justice movement following the May 2020 murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Williams was the first Black columnist at the Richmond newspaper, which had been a prominent voice for the Massive Resistance movement against desegregation in the 1950s and 1960s. He is also a former Nieman Fellow at Harvard University.
Recent developments: After winning the Pulitzer and the 2021 Pell Center Prize for Story in the Public Square, Williams continues to hold public officials to account in his twice-weekly column. Upon the September 2021 removal of the Robert E. Lee monument in Richmond, Williams wrote, “If we define ourselves only by what we take down, the result will be as empty as those pedestals.”
Pharrell Williams, musician, producer, developer and philanthropist, Miami/Virginia Beach
Why he is influential: A music superstar perhaps best known for his international hit single “Happy,” Williams has produced and performed on numerous hip-hop and pop hits over the past two decades, winning 13 Grammys. The Virginia Beach native also has focused more energy on his hometown in recent years. On the front burner is the $325 million Atlantic Park surf park and entertainment center under construction in the Oceanfront area. Williams also entered a bid to redevelop Norfolk’s Military Circle Mall that would include an arena, office space and a hotel.
Recent developments: In September 2021, Williams wrote a letter to the Virginia Beach city manager saying he would not bring his successful Something in the Water music festival, last held in 2019, back to the city, citing the city’s handling of the investigation into his cousin’s March 2021 killing by a Virginia Beach police officer. In the letter, Williams charged that the city is run with “toxic energy.” However, Williams maintains close ties with Norfolk State University, where his Elephant in the Room business conference was held in November 2021.
Michael A. Witynski, president and CEO, Dollar Tree Inc., Chesapeake
Why he’s influential: In 2020, Witynski became Dollar Tree’s president and CEO, a decade after joining the company as senior vice president of stores. He quickly rose through the ranks, becoming president and chief operating officer in 2017. Before joining Dollar Tree, he spent 29 years in the grocery industry. A Fortune 500 company, the discount retail giant operates under the brands Dollar Tree, Family Dollar and Dollar Tree Canada and runs more than 15,900 stores worldwide, employing more than 193,000 people.
Recent developments: At the end of 2021, Dollar Tree hiked prices to $1.25 at its stores nationwide for the first time, saying that it would allow the stores to sell discontinued products at the $1 price. Although customers scolded the chain via social media for the decision, sales increased 2.6% to $19.23 billion in the first three quarters of 2021, compared with the same period in 2020, and executives anticipated net sales in the fourth quarter between $7.02 billion and $7.18 billion.
Gov. Glenn Youngkin, Virginia governor, Richmond
Why he is influential: A Virginia Beach and Richmond native who spent his career in finance, including as co-CEO of The Carlyle Group, Youngkin won a close race against his Democratic rival, former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, in November 2021. Walking a fine line between appealing to Virginia’s Trump supporters and more moderate suburban voters, Youngkin led a GOP sweep of all three statewide offices, and Republicans regained control of the Virginia House of Delegates after two years of Democratic power in Richmond. He has quickly become a national figure and a model for other GOP candidates.
Recent developments: With some political observers anticipating a moderate platform from Youngkin, the newly inaugurated governor instead signed a dozen executive orders in his first week that loosened mask policies and banned the teaching of critical race theory in K-12 schools, as well as changing the duties of the Cabinet-level chief diversity officer to include serving as an “ambassador for unborn children.” Senate Democrats defeated his appointment of Trump administration Environmental Protection Agency chief Andrew Wheeler as state secretary of natural and historic resources.