Reinvent Hampton Roads names new president and CEO
Nancy Grden to succeed Jim Spore
The first president and CEO of Reinvent Hampton Roads, Jim Spore, will retire June 15, the regional economic development organization announced Thursday.
Nancy L. Grden, executive director of the Hampton Roads Maritime Collaborative for Growth & Innovation (HRMC) and associate vice president of Old Dominion University’s Institute for Innovation & Entrepreneurship, has been named the next president and CEO.
Spore has been in the role six years, after leaving his role as city manager of Virginia Beach, where he spent more than two decades. He will stay on through mid-August in an advisory role.
“The biggest change I’ve seen in six years is one in the region’s culture — one from competition to collaboration,” Spore told Virginia Business, adding that there is a much better understanding than there was six years ago of the localities in Hampton Roads working together collectively instead of individually.
The organization serves as GO Virginia Region 5’s support arm and has awarded dozens of grants and invested $55 million in the region since late 2017.
“Jim has given outstanding service for RHR and defined its path,” John O. “Dubby” Wynne, RHR board chairman, said in a statement. “With Jim’s leadership, RHR has developed a framework for progress on a host of initiatives, including encouraging regional collaboration, retaining and attracting talent and advancing infrastructure and resiliency. Hampton Roads is in a much better place thanks to Jim’s leadership, relationships and vision, as well as his long and distinguished career serving the community.”
He added that the board’s decision to hire Grden was unanimous.
Spore told Virginia Business that he and Grden have worked together for years in a number of roles and he feels nothing but comfort knowing the organization is in good hands.
Grden said Reinvent Hampton Roads “has a good foundation and a good base,” and the most important thing for her will be working with many players, including elected officials, city leaders, established organizations and up-and-coming organizations.
At ODU, Grden was co-chair of the Economic Development Task Force, a joint university and community initiative to identify talent and innovation pathways for the region.
She has an MBA from the University of South Carolina, a master’s in regional planning from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a bachelor’s in economics from Bucknell University.