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Class of 2014's Graduation Celebration

On Friday, November 21, 2014, the Class of 2014 celebrated the completion of their LEAD VIRGINIA experience. The reception, held in the Rotunda of the historic Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, Virginia, was enhanced by our 4th Annual Silent Auction. The Silent Auction raises scholarship support each year to expand participation and diversity in the LEAD VIRGINIA program. With the help of our generous alumni, sponsors, current class members and distinguished guests, the auction raised $15,000! The LEAD VIRGINIA team expresses our deep gratitude for all donors, auction bidders and auction winners!

Immediately following the reception, the graduation dinner and awards ceremony were held in the Grand Ballroom of the Jefferson Hotel. The invocation was offered by Gary McCollum, '14, Senior Vice President & General Manager, Cox Communications. LEAD VIRGINIA President & CEO, Susan Horne, '06, launched the graduation and awards ceremonies after dinner with a special recognition of the Class of 2009 who gathered together to celebrate their 5-year reunion! Susan then shared LEAD VIRGINIA highlights and accomplishments from throughout 2014. Matt Fidler, '14, Senior Vice President & Creative Director, Charles Ryan Associates, created a touching video that highlighted the Class of 2014's year long experience.

Each year, the current class selects a colleague to represent the class as a whole and share the LEAD VIRGINIA class experience through one person's voice. This year, the Class of 2014 chose Kathy Albarado, Chief Executive Officer of Helios HR.

Following Kathy's inspiring remarks, LEAD VIRGINIA Chairman of the Board, Bernie Niemeier, '07, presented the Jorman D. Granger Service to LEAD VIRGINIA award to Liz Povar, '09, Vice President - Business Expansion, VEDP, for recognizing Liz's time, talent and efforts in support of LEAD VIRGINIA. LEAD VIRGINIA then presented Beth Bortz, '07, with the 2014 Virginia Leader Award for her ongoing commitment to gaining deeper insights into statewide issues, building social capital, and creating momentum for positive change in the Commonwealth.

Dr. John Thomas, Director for the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service and LEAD VIRGINIA Board Member & Curriculum Committee Chair, then presented the Class of 2014 for graduation, followed by the presentation of the Class Legacy Gift. Class of 2014 representatives, Kathy Albarado, CEO, Helios HR, and Kathy Strawn, Vice President & Executive Director, MeadWestvaco Foundation, MWV, presented LEAD VIRGINIA with a check for $30,500, which represented 100% participation from the Class of 2014. The Class Gift opens doors of opportunity for Virginia leaders to participate in the LEAD VIRGINIA experience who might not otherwise be able to afford the full tuition. We would like to thank each class member for their generosity and commitment to LEAD VIRGINIA and we would like to especially thank Kathy Strawn, '14 and Kathy Albarado, '14 for serving as the Class of 2014 Class Gift representatives.

Finally, LEAD VIRGINIA expressed its sincere appreciation to outgoing Board Chairman, Bernie Niemeier, '07, who has remained a stalwart supporter of the program over the years. Bernie has served as board chair for the past year and as a supporter of the LEAD VIRGINIA program for many years. His guidance and leadership have been invaluable to the organization.

LEAD VIRGINIA would like to express our sincerest appreciation for the support of all of our sponsors, board members, alumni, curriculum co-chairs and regional alumni chairs. Our sincere appreciation to Washington Gas as our 2014 Graduation Dinner Sponsor & Northrop Grumman as our 2014 Graduation Reception Sponsor.