Keynote Speakers

ChrisChris R. Hairston-White is a Sr. Business Banking Relationship Manager, Vice President at Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. In that capacity she maintains account relationships with complex and large sized business customers with annual revenues up to $20 million. She’s responsible for assessing the financial needs and delivering an effective variety of services to help the customer succeed. Prior to holding this position, she has held progressively responsible positions with Bank of America and Consolidated Bank.




Chris has a strong presence in the community. She is a member of Commercial Real Estate for Women (CREW), the Leadership Metro Richmond Class of 2009, The Board of Directors for ART180, The Board of Directors for Virginia Tourism Authority (2008-2012). Chris enjoys spending time with her family, gardening, and interior design. She currently resides in Henrico County, Virginia with her husband, Dwayne, two beautiful children, Kameron and Kirsten, and their pet fish, Goldberg.



Jennifer HunterJennifer Hunter serves as Senior Vice President, Corporate Affairs, for Altria Client Services, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Altria Group. In her current position, she leads the following functional areas that provide services to Altria Group and its operating companies:


• Corporate Affairs Research and Corporate Responsibility

• Corporate Communications

• Corporate Contributions & Community Relations


She also oversees Altria’s tobacco operating companies’ efforts to help prevent underage tobacco use and help adult tobacco users who decide to quit be more successful.


Between October 2009 and August 2011, she served as Vice President, Corporate Affairs, for ALCS. She also held the role of Vice President, Corporate Responsibility & Stakeholder Relations, for ALCS. Previously, she served as Vice President, Youth Smoking Prevention and Corporate Responsibility Programs, for Philip Morris USA.


Jennifer joined PM USA in 1994 as a Territory Sales Manager in Kenosha, Wis. She advanced through the Sales organization, holding a number of positions including Section Sales Director.



She currently serves as the Chairman of the Altria Companies Employee Community Fund and is a member of the Executive Leadership Council. Jennifer also serves on the board of the United Negro College Fund, the Capital Region Collaborative, the Curry School Foundation of the University of Virginia and Virginia State University. Jennifer holds a B.A. in journalism from the University of Wisconsin.

Tiffany Jana HeadshotTiffany Jana, CEO of TMI Consulting, Inc. has directed diversity, organizational development, marketing, and community outreach initiatives for over 10 years.


 She has worked with companies and clients including the YMCA, Nascar, Lean Cuisine, TIME Magazine, XM Radio, Nextel, the Virginia Lottery, the University of Richmond and the Smithsonian Institute. Tiffany’s leadership in community building work has been recognized twice in the Wall Street Journal. She recently project managed the ‘Race: Are We So Different?’ national touring exhibit at the Science Museum of Virginia. The TMI team helped curate and populate exhibits, academic panel discussions, a speaker series, a series of cultural festivals to complement the exhibit, and a series of facilitated dialogues for corporate and nonprofit work groups. Tiffany enjoys designing and facilitating discussions, meetings, and initiatives that help individuals, communities and organizations identify goals and communicate effectively across any demographic divide. She speaks Spanish and German, and is a doctoral candidate in Management and Organizational Leadership.

Featured Session Speakers

CamilleCamille Blanchard is an executive with over 15 years of leadership experience on the corporate and agency sides of business. Camille’s breadth of skills spans marketing, operations, data analysis and business management. A graduate of Wake Forest University with a B.S. in Business, she began her career at Wachovia, in Investment Operations. After two years, she moved to Capital One, where she spent seven years in increasingly challenging Marketing & Analysis positions, attaining greater levels of management scope and seniority. As a Vice President at West Cary Group, she helped solidify the company’s early foundation while delivering strategy, insight and world-class client care. When she’s not collaborating on the next big idea, Camille also enjoys regular missionary travels and youth mentorship.

SueSue Durnwirth Chief Executive Officer, is a Human Resources professional with 25+ years specializing in the areas of sales, recruiting, staffing, leadership and people management. She has developed innovative and strategic staffing solutions for hundreds of companies across multiple industries, employing thousands of associates each year. Sue’s professional experience culminated in 1996 while serving as Senior Vice President of the Judith Fox Companies and being acquired by a national staffing firm. She was promoted to Regional President. In that capacity she was responsible for leading the sales and operations teams within the Commercial Staffing, Technical Staffing and Training for Growth divisions in Virginia and New York. Immediately prior to founding Bench, Sue served as Regional Director for Staffmark, one of the largest and most successful staffing firms in the world.


Sue Durnwirth has been an active community leader throughout her career. She has held key leadership positions in various non-profit and charitable organizations, a few of which are the Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce, United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg, Comfort Zone Camp, Meals on Wheels and the Society of Human Resource Management.

LisaLisa M. Hicks-Thomas is a mission-oriented, results-driven professional with a legal background and over a decade of leadership, management and operational experience. She is currently a Senior Advisor for Administrative Services and Strategic Projects for Dominion Resources responsible for various projects spanning Human Resources, IT Risk Management, Workforce Diversity and Ethics and Compliance areas. Skilled at leading projects and teams through complex organizational challenges, operational reform and restructuring and strategic planning, Lisa served as the Secretary of Administration for the Commonwealth of Virginia from 2010-2014 and as a Deputy Attorney General prior to that. She serves on the Richmond Police Foundation, the United Way’s Women’s Leadership Council Give Committee and the Virginia Women’s Monument Commission. Lisa received her undergraduate degree in History from the University of Virginia and her law degree from the Marshall-Wythe School of Law at the College of William and Mary.

Valerie KingValerie King serves as Senior Manager, Innovation for Altria Client Services Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Altria Group, Inc. She has held this position since October 2013. In this role, Valerie is part of a team charged with enhancing and supporting innovation capability at Altria. Valerie joined the Altria family of companies in 1994 as an administrative assistant. In 1998, she transitioned into a non-administrative role in Research and Development at Philip Morris USA. She advanced through the R&D organization, holding subsequent positions in the Scientific Affairs, Clinical Evaluation, and Contracts organizations. In 2008, Valerie moved into Altria Client Services, holding subsequent positions in the Regulatory Affairs organization prior to her current role. Valerie holds a B.A. in English from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Rene HainesRené Haines brings over 25 years of experience in the business world. She held the position of Corporate Vice President with Cavalier Marine Supply Company, in Norfolk, VA. René has also held the position of General Manager for other companies, ranging from the maritime industry to the wholesale industry. She also has experience in the fields of logistics, supply chain, purchasing, warehousing/distribution, international and domestic marketing and retail distribution.


René is currently the President, founder and owner of FocalPath Coaching – a business advisory firm located in central Virginia. FocalPath Coaching specializes in working with small and medium sized businesses to prioritize company needs, design action plans and assist in implementing the plans until positive results are realized.


René has served as the President of the Network of Enterprising Women for 2 years and is the immediate Past-President of the National Association of Women Business Owners, Richmond Chapter.

Tammy CummingsTammy Cummings brings over 20 years of experience to her position as Vice President of Strategic Human Resources Development at Royall & Company, a leader in strategic direct marketing for higher education. In addition to human resources, Tammy leads Royall & Company’s community engagement efforts to help underserved youth with college access.


Prior to joining Royall & Company, Tammy was the Senior Vice President and Director of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion for the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. Before joining the bank, Tammy served as Corporate Vice President of Human Resources for two other Richmond-based companies. Her experience spans a variety of industries including global consumer manufacturing, retail, building materials and telecommunications, and financial services. Tammy currently serves as the Board Chair for the Virginia Mentoring Partnership and is the Vice President of Community Leadership and President Elect for the Richmond Society for Human Resource Management.

Tammy CummingsLee Brazzell, Chief Executive Officer of Transformation Consulting, LLC has over twenty-five years of technical and senior management experience in both the public and private sector, in organizational development, strategic planning, program design and development, human resources, leadership and project management. She has owned and operated Transformation Corporation since 1995, and Transformation Consulting LLC since 2004. Ms. Brazzell also served as an Adjunct Professor, University of Richmond/Robins Business School Management Institute, and is the former Executive Director of the Women’s Resource Center/University of Richmond.

Janet TopeJanet N. Tope, is Area President, Southeast Virginia at Wells Fargo. She is based in Richmond, Virginia with 26 years banking experience in Consumer Banking, Small Business, Business Banking, and Retail Credit. Janet currently leads the Southeast Virginia Region, which has 58 banking stores and includes Richmond, Petersburg, Williamsburg, and Newport News. Prior to her current position, Janet was the Mid-Atlantic Small Business Director where she oversaw the strategy for small business development in Virginia, Maryland and D.C. Janet sits on the Executive Board of Junior Achievement where she leads the Board Development Committee.

Mary FoleyMary Foley offers entertaining advice to increase women’s career confidence in the workplace and the marketplace. Her energizing insights are influenced by a life of contrasts, including a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering and a Master’s Degree in Organization Development; a 10-year corporate career at AOL (when AOL was cool) followed by a decade of being an entrepreneur; and professional highs punctuated by personal lows.


Today, she’s a popular presenter and facilitator, author of 3 books, featured blogger on, career mentor, and creator of the video program “Keys to Being a Confident, Courageous Career-Savvy Woman”. For more, go to

EmilyEmily Shane is Chief Social Strategist at The Hodges Partnership. She graduated from the University of Maryland, where she studied broadcast journalism and history. In her nearly 10 years here at Hodges, Emily has gained traditional and social media marketing and event planning expertise through her work with AMF Bowling Centers and Carpenter Co. As content marketing and social advertising have become further integrated into our clients’ publicity wheel – and into Hodges’ own public relations practice – Emily has become one of our social experts, spearheading agency-wide processes to guide strategy, content collection and management as well as content analysis.

Bethany MillerBethany Miller is a vice president of business development for the Greater Richmond Partnership where she has worked since April of 2013. As part of the Business Development Team Bethany focuses on regional marketing and attraction domestically and abroad, works to locate prospective companies to the region, and manages the Partnership’s site selection consultants database. Prior to receiving her position with the Partnership she managed Stafford, Virginia’s business retention and expansion program and served as a Program Administrator for Virginia’s Enterprise Zone Program.


Born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, Bethany received a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Master of City and Regional Planning from The Ohio State University.

Vice Mayor Jasmine GoreVice Mayor Jasmine Gore was elected to represent Ward 4 within the City of Hopewell at the age of 27 making her the first African-American and the first woman ever to be elected. She is believed to be the youngest City Council member and is currently the youngest Vice Mayor to serve in the Commonwealth of Virginia.


In 2013, Ms. Gore was recognized as one of Style Weekly’s Top 40 Under 40 participants and named the Democratic Party of Virginia’s Emerging Leader of the Year.


This summer Ms. Gore graduated from the National Black Caucus of Local Elected Leaders Fellow Program; a highly competitive fellowship that selects two newly elected leaders throughout the United States to be mentored. She was also appointed by Governor Terry McAuliffe to serve the Commonwealth on the State Board of Medicine.


Ms. Gore is a Virginia Commonwealth University graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Biology with a minor in Chemistry. In addition, she obtained a dual-degree in Political Science with a concentration in Government.

Eva ColenEva Colen has spent nearly a decade working to improve public education. After graduating from Columbia University, Eva began her career as a 2006 Teach For America corps member. Eva spent two years teaching high school English in Philadelphia public schools before earning her Master’s degree in Urban Education from the University of Pennsylvania. She then joined Teach For America’s national staff and spent several years recruiting for the organization, which brought her home to Virginia.


Eva currently lives and works in Richmond, where serves as a managing director of community engagement and new site development, leading efforts to launch Virginia’s first Teach For America site. Eva’s work in Richmond over the past few years has resulted in the passage of 2013’s Teach For America Act, as well as the inclusion of an appropriation to support Teach For America in the Virginia state budget. Eva has participated in Leadership for Educational Equity’s Emerging Public Leadership Fellowship and the Greater Richmond Chamber’s RVA Leadership Lab.


She is an active member of the Urban League of Greater Richmond Young Professionals Network and serves as a mentor for Higher Achievement.

Dr. Baxter Linda Baxter, RN, PhD, PMHNP/CNS-BC, ANP-BC is a nurse practitioner who obtained a master’s degree, adult nurse practitioner certificate and PhD in Nursing from Virginia Commonwealth University. She also has a specialty certification as a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner and clinical nurse specialist from the University of Virginia.


She has extensive experience and expertise in the areas of women’s health, stress management and issues related to chronic illness and disability, with particular interest in caregiver issues, including caregiver grief, stress, and self-care. Her practice philosophy is holistic, emphasizing the integrative principles of mind-body-spirit care. She believes that medication is an important aspect of treatment but is only one approach. Balance and health, including mental health, occurs with the integration of multiple approaches, including, but not limited to, self-care and self-nurturing activities, creative expression, physical health practices, stress management, and therapeutic counseling.


Dr. Baxter is committed to providing respectful and comprehensive care based on each individual’s unique needs and experiences.

HeatherHeather Loftus is co-founder and EVP leading product and marketing strategy for PlanG ( PlanG offers businesses an easy and authentic way to infuse and promote social impact within their brand. Heather directs each aspect of the PlanG experience to guide members from passion to action. Her love for technology-based product development was born at Affinion Group, a $1.3 billion customer engagement marketing company, where she was the VP of Loyalty Product Development and created product roadmaps for Fortune 100 companies over 14 years. Heather holds an MBA from Old Dominion University and serves on the Board of the Library of Virginia Foundation.

MicheleMichele Lord is the Co-Founder and Project Manager of the Richmond Food Co-op. She has overseen every aspect of the business’ development from its inception, managing communications and community engagement efforts while raising almost 600 memberships. Michele has led the Co-op in two successful crowdsourcing campaigns – using Bonfire Funds and IndieGoGo. Before returning to Richmond to start the Co-op Michele spent 12 years in the education and non-profit sectors in DC, Philadelphia & New York. Michele’s career has been focused on communications, training and program development for community-minded organizations.

Brian MarksBrian R. Marks, Founder & Chief Executive Officer of Bonfire Funds, is a facilitator. Building a team has always been his number one driver for building products and companies. He embodies the “World Is Flat” approach, which has led to his Bonfire team having members from 3 different continents. Along with Bonfire, Brian is a managing partner and co-founder of Belle Isle Craft Spirits, a Richmond based craft distillery.

M H WestMarilyn West is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of M.H. West and Company, a Virginia based consulting firm that specializes in management, planning and education services. Her clients include Fortune 500 companies, federal, state and local government entities, medical care facilities and practitioners, housing authorities and school systems. She has significant planning and healthcare experience. She has served on the governing boards and executive committees of many Central Virginia based organizations and has been recognized many times for her contributions to the Greater Richmond community. She is a digital artist. Selected pieces of her work are currently on display at SunTrust Bank headquarters.

ToniToni Ardabell is the Chief Executive Officer of Bon Secours St. Mary’s Hospital, Bon Secours Virginia’s flagship facility in Richmond. As CEO of Bon Secours St. Mary’s, Toni is responsible for the 391-bed acute care facility that supports a full-range of services, which include Centers of Excellence in cardiac surgery, women’s and children’s services, orthopaedics, bariatrics, surgery, oncology, emergency care and ambulatory services. In addition to her responsibilities as CEO of St. Mary’s Hospital, Toni was recently appointed as the Executive Leader responsible for St. Francis Medical Center.


Prior to joining Bon Secours, she served as vice president for the Inova Health System 2015 Capital Improvement Program.


A native of Pennsylvania, Toni earned her bachelor of science in nursing from Pennsylvania State University in State College, PA, her master of science in nursing from Catholic University of America, in Washington, D.C., and her master in business administration from Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia.


Toni is married with two adult sons.

FredaFreda Thornton’s career with McDonald’s began in 1980 as a crew person. She spent 21 years in various, progressive positions within the company’s corporate Norfolk Region. In 2001, FWL & Sons Inc. was formed and Freda became an owner/operator in the Greater Richmond Area, where she operates five stores.


Freda is a 2012 graduate of Leadership Metro Richmond, spending nine intensive months engaged with 63 other emerging leaders examining challenges facing the city. She is vice president for the regional chapter of the Virginia Black McDonald’s Owners Association; vice president of the Richmond co-op executive board; the QSC lead for the Richmond co-op; a member of the executive board of the Richmond Ronald McDonald House; board member of the National Black McDonald’s Operators of America, representing Baltimore, Washington, D.C. and Virginia. And she is also a proud member of The Links Inc., Commonwealth chapter.


She has received numerous awards throughout her career as a corporate employee and owner/operator. The honor she holds most dear is the Shining Star Award, which celebrates the top 10 percent of female operators in the country.


A firm believer in “to whom much is given, much is required,” Freda has made countless donations and volunteered her time within the community. She also believes in the value of a good education. At each of her stores, one high school senior is selected to receive a scholarship to attend college the following year.


Freda enjoys traveling abroad, reading inspirational books, yoga and spending time with family.

MaryMary C. Doswell is Senior Vice President–Retail and Alternative Energy Solutions.


She oversees Dominion Energy Solutions, which sells natural gas commodities to residential, commercial and industrial customers in non-regulated markets; Dominion Products and Services, which sells home warranty and protection products and services; and Dominion Voltage Inc., which provides grid efficiency and optimization solutions to utilities, nationally and internationally.


Doswell also oversees the Alternative Energy Solutions organization where she is responsible for enhancing and expanding Dominion’s focus on “smart grid” technologies, transmission and distribution-related technologies, energy efficiency, and alternative energy generation in conjunction with the appropriate business units.


She previously served as Senior Vice President-Regulation & Integrated Planning, and President and Chief Executive Officer of Dominion Resources Services Inc.


Doswell joined Dominion’s Virginia Power subsidiary as an economist. She has held leadership positions in Regulation, Market Research, Forecasting, Market Analysis and Planning, Marketing, Corporate Center Restructuring, Corporate Strategy, Construction and Customer Service, Metering Services, and Billing and Credit. She was named Senior Vice President–Alternative Energy Solutions in April 2009 and assumed her current post in January 2014.


She is a Governor appointee to the Virginia Offshore Wind Development Authority and the Virginia Biotechnology Research Partnership Authority and serves as Vice President of the Board of Directors of Mutual Assurance Society of Virginia, President of the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Engineering Foundation Board, and Vice Chairman of the Board of Venture Richmond.


Doswell received her B.A. degree in physics cum laude from Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts. She received a master’s degree in Materials Engineering, with a concentration in econometrics, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She also attended the Darden Executive Development Program at the University of Virginia Graduate School of Business.

ShannaBorn in Quito-Ecuador, Shanna Kabatznick was educated at Colby College. After college, she worked in a series of progressively responsible positions in the financial services industry. Today, Shanna is a Relationship Banker at CNF Community Bank- a role that she has embraced because she believes that everything starts with a good relationship. She’s the founder of FABWomen a community where women are connected to be encouraged, empowered and educated. FABWomen seeks to create a support system to help address issues that hinder women’s success.

Featured Session Moderators

ViolaViola O. Baskerville, J.D., currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer of the Girl Scouts of the Commonwealth of Virginia. A former Girl Scout herself, she has served as an elected and appointed public official with sixteen years of service to Richmond and the state. CEO Baskerville received her undergraduate degree from the College of William and Mary (Williamsburg, Virginia) in Modern German Literature, attended the University of Bonn (Germany) as a Fulbright Scholar and received her law degree from the University of Iowa, College of Law (Iowa City, Iowa). She studied at the John F. Kennedy School of Government in its Executive Education Program at Harvard University. A lifetime Girl Scout member, she has a personal passion for assisting in the development of the next generation of women leaders. She is married to Dr. Archer L. Baskerville. They are the parents of two sons.

JenJen Kostyniuk has held several positions at Dominion Virginia Power over the past thirteen years, all involving employee communications. She currently represents the Company’s state and local affairs in the Greater Richmond Metro Area (Chesterfield, Goochland, Henrico, Powhatan, Hanover and City of Richmond) serving on multiple committees and chambers, including: Chesterfield County Chamber of Commerce Community Affairs & Government Relations Committee, Goochland County Chamber of Commerce, Powhatan County Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce Community Affairs Committee and is a cabinet member on the Richmond Business Council.


A graduate of the 2013 LEAD VIRGINIA class, Jen is very active in her volunteer community serving on the Board of Directors for Stop Child Abuse Now (SCAN), the Board of Directors for Art 180 and the Board of Directors for Partnership for the Future. She is also a member of the United Way of Greater Richmond and Petersburg’s Women’s Leadership Council Advocate Committee and WE-RVA. Jen has a B.S. in Mass Communications-Advertising, an M.S. in Mass Communications-Media Management, and an M.A. in English-Composition and Rhetoric, all from Virginia Commonwealth University. She is currently training for her fifteenth marathon.

LoriLori Collier Waran lives and breathes Richmond every day at her job as Publisher of Style Weekly, a local alternative newsweekly. Lori started with Landmark Media LLC, the parent company to Style Weekly, almost 10 years ago and swiftly worked her way up to Publisher in 2007, where, at the time, she was the youngest Publisher for an alternative newsweekly in the United States.


In addition to her role as Publisher, in 2013, Lori added Digital & New Media Director of Pilot Targeted Publications to her portfolio where she manages the digital team (including search and social) of more than 13 niche publications in Virginia.


Lori longs for the day when we can say “Remember Twitter?”.

LauraLaura Sánchez de Solar has been involved in business industries and non-profit areas after having earned her Bachelor of Business Administration at San Ignacio de Loyola University in Peru. She has over thirty years of experience in management and operational departments in domestic and international capacities. Additionally, she has honed her international business acumen through Virginia Commonwealth University’s International Business Certificate Program.


Ms. Sanchez del Solar has created and founded the Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Foundation and served as a liaison to community organizations and government agencies including the U.S. Small Business Administration, Virginia Department of Assistance, and the Virginia Department of Minority Enterprises.


Most recently, as the Program Director for REDC Center for Women’s Enterprise she wants women and men alike to know they have an equal opportunity to start and grow their own business. Through the services offered with us they can learn the steps on how to progress and become independent business owners.

shannon venable thumbnailShannon L. Venable is vice president of Staffing & Diversity for Dominion Resources. She is chair of the United Way of Greater Richmond and Petersburg Women’s Leadership Initiative advisory council, was elected to the United Way’s board of directors in June 2010 and most recently served on the 2012/2013 United Way Campaign Cabinet. She is a graduate of Michigan State University with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and a minor in biomedical engineering.

Jean HinesJean Hines is the Director of Strategic Sourcing & Payments at the University of Richmond, where she has worked since 1997. She oversees the areas of Procurement, Accounts Payable, Purchasing Card Administration, and the university’s supplier diversity initiative.


Prior to joining the University of Richmond, Jean worked at VCU for 13 years, where she also earned her bachelor’s degree in Management Information Systems.


Jean serves as the secretary on the board of the Metropolitan Business League.