President and CEO, Greater Richmond Partnership, Richmond
Jennifer Wakefield is on a mission to turn the greater Richmond area into the top midsize region in the U.S. for business.
To accomplish her goal, she is laser-focused on persuading companies to relocate to the area. She aims to create enough jobs to encourage youth to stay, instead of moving to other cities to pursue better opportunities.
“Like any parent, I don’t want my son to have to leave Richmond to have a good job one day,” she says. “I want to make sure that we create a diverse economy so that no matter what he decides to major in when he’s older, he can do that.”
Wakefield became CEO and president of Greater Richmond Partnership in February 2021 after serving two interim stints in the role. She also served as the regional economic development advocacy organization’s chief operating officer and senior vice president of marketing, as well as a member of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond’s Industry Roundtable.
She arrived at the partnership in 2017 after working for 11 years in marketing for the Orlando Economic Development Commission. That role helped prepare her for her current post, where she’s notched several successes, including CoStar Group Inc.’s $460 million expansion in Richmond, which is set to create 2,000 jobs.
Wakefield says she has leaned on other smart, successful women and mentors to advance into leadership positions and advises other women to do the same.
“Most women are more than willing to have a conversation with another woman to help them,” she says.