Alumni Spotlight l Lead Virginia

Alumni Spotlight


Alumni Spotlights


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Wanda Jeffress, Class of 2008

Wanda Jeffress

Vice President
S.L. Jeffress Company, Inc.
South Boston

What is new and exciting with you now or since your LEAD VIRGINIA class year?

Among the many exciting occurrences in my life since becoming a Class of 2008 LEAD VIRGINIA graduate, the most rewarding experience is that of obtaining licensure as a Virginia real estate agent. My LEAD VIRGINIA experience introduced me to exceptional leaders from the corporate arena, however, I was equally influenced by classmates, alumni, and presenters who are entrepreneurs and small business owners. In addition to sharing responsibilities of operating a family-owned funeral home, I truly enjoy the responsibilities associated with being self-employed as a Virginia realtor. Home ownership in the southern region of Virginia has been my concern for many years, and now providing solutions to that problem is my passion. When I obtained my license in May 2011, it was during a period when both the housing market and the overall economy, were within what was defined as recession. Against many odds and amongst many questions of why I would even consider entering the real estate market at its lowest point, not only have I been successful in serving the sale and purchase needs of clients at all homeownership levels, but I absolutely enjoy what I do. My efforts have been successful. In 2012 I was involved in $1.9 million in sales, and thus far for 2013, I have surpassed the $2 million mark. I have been told that I have encouraged and inspired others within my community to persevere, and to recognize how important it is to re-create ourselves and enhance our marketability without regard to age, race, or gender, and especially locality, even when times are tough. My desire in life is that neither I, nor others in southern Virginia become a statistic. Hopefully, others within my region will share my belief that continuing education in any stage in life is the key to economic stability.

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Wendy Brown, Class of 2012

Wendy Brown

Co-Founder, Chair of the Board of Directors
Community Investment Collaborative (CIC)

What is new and exciting with you now or since your LEAD VIRGINIA class year?

When I applied to LEAD VIRGINIA in December, 2011 we had just incorporated a new micro enterprise development organization in Charlottesville, VA. The Community Investment Collaborative (CIC) leverages community resources to provide education and capital to entrepreneurs who have difficulty accessing funding from traditional sources. As a co-founder I was asked to bring my nonprofit management and governance expertise to this grassroots effort to expand entrepreneurship in our low/moderate income, minority and previously incarcerated communities. Having previously founded the Center for Nonprofit Excellence (CNE), I was familiar with developing a company and programmatic elements from the ground up, but not in this arena. By building on each others' — and the broader community's — experience and expertise the Community Investment Collaborative has successfully grown into a full-fledged entity with two paid staff, a strong board of directors, 31 graduates of our educational program with 5 start up/expansion loans made to date. In addition, CIC recently won the Community Award given annually by the Charlottesville Business Innovation Council. In our first year, we utilized more than 9,500 hours of professionals' volunteer time - as discussion group leaders, mentors, board and staff - a conservative value of this time is $500,000-$750,000. The expansion of professional staff has enabled me to step aside from daily responsibilities as volunteer Executive Director to focus more on outreach and strategy as Chair of the Board of Directors. I have also been able to consult with other jurisdictions about their fledgling micro enterprise development programs. We have developed a model that not only builds social capital, but relies on it!

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Nick Langridge, Class of 2009

Nick Langridge

Vice President, University Advancement
James Madison University

What is new and exciting with you now or since your LEAD VIRGINIA class year?

After graduating 13 years ago, James Madison University continues to be where I go to work every day. I guess that makes me a "Failure to launch!" Thankfully, I continue to be offered new and meaningful ways to serve my alma mater. Since completing from LEAD VIRGINIA in 2009, I took on additional roles for University Planning and Institutional Research along with my position as Assistant to the President. This was followed by a chance to work on the Presidential Transition at JMU as the secretary to the presidential search committee, something that occurs very rarely for at the time we had only five presidents in our 104 year history. This type of continuity is extraordinary in Higher Education and the university has benefitted from prudent leaders who have governed with a long-term perspective to frame decision making. A national search yielded our sixth President, Jonathan R. Alger who was just inaugurated in March. In the midst of the transition, outgoing President Linwood H. Rose afforded me the chance to serve as the Acting Vice President of University Advancement. After a year in that acting role, President Alger and the Board of Visitors graciously made my position permanent and that is where I currently serve today. James Madison has a very people centered culture, it's one of those places that offers more than just a job, it feels like your life's work.

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