2024 Team Tourism

Summary of Team Journey:

Following the retreat, the Tourism Team began meeting regularly. We first discussed our DISC assessments and how each of our results would contribute to the group’s dynamic. With being the final program day for the year, our meetings were a bit more infrequent.

We explored what tourism meant to each of us and what we thought tourism looked like in the Roanoke Region. From there, we met with different experts including Doug Blount with Roanoke County, Katie Conner with Virginia Tourism Corporation, and a panel of employees from Visit Virginia Blue Ridge. We were able to dissect different projects as well as consider marketing and branding. As we learned more, the vision for our day grew.

Another likely commonality among groups holding the last program day, we changed our itinerary several times. Different ideas sparked from different conversations and expertise. Once springtime hit, we all decided we needed to buckle down and begin making our vision more concrete.

We ultimately decided to meet at Explore Park to network while enjoying breakfast, hear from Explore Park staff, and meet with the Roanoke Regional Partnership for the opening. RRP is increasing focus on attraction and retention efforts, and we thought this would be a great start to the day.

To get a feel for things happening in the City as well as the County, we hoped to take the group to the in-river kayak drop-off to meet with City staff on how these efforts will enhance Roanoke’s natural amenities. Conveniently, Black Dog Salvage was just a quick walk away and was going to be a unique spot to visit and explore. Our vision included hosting lunch and yard games in the dog bowl followed by a couch conversation with our panelists on the stage.

We chose our panelists in a way to touch on multiple different points- marketing and economic development as well as the different organizations lifting up tourism in our Region. We chose people who have their hands on multiple different components regionally as opposed to focused on one particular locality or area. Katie offered great feedback to our group and we wanted to utilize her VTC expertise as the state-wide tourism agency. Kathryn Lucas from VBR has been the mastermind behind VBR’s second-annual marketing campaign in DC as well as a frequent tour guide for travel writers who visit. We knew she would offer a lot of unique expertise particularly with marketing and marketing tourism for our Region. To bring it all together, we looped in John Hull with the Partnership as he works with localities and groups to showcase the Region and attract businesses and people. We knew we could tackle a lot of ground in this panel lineup.

We then wanted to split the group into an active group and leisure group to accommodate for everyone. We coordinated with Roanoke Disc Golf Club to teach and play disc golf with part of the group at Mayflower Hills. For others in the group, we coordinated for Doug to meet with everyone and discuss Illuminights while walking the trail. The trail would not contain the lights, but we thought that added to the magic and amplified how much the trail and park transforms in the winter.

To account for weather, we adjusted much of these later activities. Quickly, we pivoted to bring City staff, Pete Eshleman and Katie Slusher, to Explore Park to have the discussion on the in-river kayak drop-off. From there, we shuttled participants to Black Dog Salvage for a quick tour before taking everyone to 5 Points Music Sanctuary for lunch. This was a great venue space, especially so last minute. They had the perfect set up for the panel discussion there as well.

Still accounting for the weather, we eliminated disc golf and hosted everyone back at Explore Park for a conversation with Doug on leadership and how leadership and perseverance has been a big part of the successful startup for Illuminights. Doug kept the conversation engaging with trivia and beneficial advice.

Merging with our original plan, we were able to go through with hosting our social at Twin Creeks Brew Pub which we received commentary that this venue was a first for LRV socials! #TrailSetters

Speaking of hashtags, we coordinated a social media challenge throughout the day by encouraging participants to post pictures at the different venues and tag the venues and organizations. We hoped this would help fill the marketing gap, even if just for a day.

We felt our day introduced participants to unique venues and perspectives while encouraging participants to get involved and spread the word.

Program Objectives:

Educate participants about influences on tourism and its impact on the Roanoke Valley.

Explore the diverse offerings of the Roanoke Valley.

Inspire participants to go beyond and set new trails in the wonderful place we live, work, and play.

Calls to Action:

Stay informed on developments, events, and initiatives. Subscribe to newsletters, follow relevant social media accounts, and stay informed on ongoing opportunities to engage.

Advocate for our local economy by portraying the Roanoke Valley as a wonderful tourist destination by social media and word of mouth.

Take time to explore the Roanoke Valley. Support local businesses and tourism in the Roanoke Valley.

Team Members:

Teresa Fridley
Amanda Holcomb
Jene Amundson
Kaelyn Spickler
Lydia Aluise
Robyn Tuck
Will Stephenson

Team Advisors:

Scott Hudson
Sara Guerry
Jodi Judge
Jeremy Longshore

URL to Team Photos: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1SMiRovTREvGaWueka8eGnafQi8Dix8Vs?usp=sharing

Innovative Leaders Empower Our Community – 03/20/24

Summary of Team Journey:

Team Innovation is beyond proud, and we all feel incredibly accomplished after our successful program day on March 20th, 2024. Our theme, “Innovative Leaders Empower Our Community,” couldn’t have been more spot on. The day was a testament to our hard work, creativity, and collaboration.

Our lead advisor, Aaron, had asked us to come to our first meeting (dinner at 419 West) with our definitions of “innovation.” That dinner left us more confused than the retreat, but it also brought out diverse yet similar definitions: doing things better. Our team worked incredibly well together right from the start. We had so many ideas that it took a while to nail down our direction. There was never any real tension (except for when Shannon thought we had maybe fundraised more than we did) (jk! jk!) 😉

We researched various innovative topics, from the helmet lab at Virginia Tech to NASCAR technology at Martinsville. Ultimately, we decided to focus on how leadership ties into an innovative mindset while highlighting the Roanoke Valley’s incredible innovative community.

One of the highlights of our day was the “toolbox of innovation” we gave to participants. This idea emerged naturally in one of our meetings when Greg exclaimed, “AI is just one of the many tools in THE TOOLBOX OF INNOVATION!” Things went silent for a second, and then our group freaked out with excitement. We knew we had a winner. Incorporating AI into our program day was initially met with some hesitation. However, after Shannon gave an awesome presentation on AI, it became a no-brainer.

The actual toolbox was a laminated, paper cut-out with a QR code that led to the day’s agenda, sponsors, and speaker bios. Attached to it were laminated paper cut-outs of tools, each symbolizing a key aspect of innovation:

Wrench = Embrace Challenges
Screwdriver = Try New Things
Saw = Collaborate with Others
Nuts & Bolts = Be Open to Change
Hammer = Lean Into Fear

Our program day started with science projects from Governor’s School students, followed by a sticky note activity asking the crowd what comes to mind when they hear “innovation.” The answers ranged from the air fryer to Elon’s new cybertruck. Then Roanoke College President Frank Shushok gave an incredibly inspiring talk on “viewing from the balcony” as part of leadership. This led into an engaging panel discussion on how to cultivate an innovative mindset, panelists including Kim Blair from Carilion Clinic, Jess Edwards from VERGE, John Gardner from The Branch Group, and Maureen (Mo) McGonagle from LEAP. After a delicious lunch, Andrew Hooper showed participants a deep dive into AI and how tools like ChatGPT can make our work lives easier.

Finishing out the day at the Red Sox for a small happy hour was the cherry on top. The energy in that room was buzzing with inspiration and people were already sharing their thoughts on how much they enjoyed the day.

A big part of why we think our day was as successful as it was is because we put in the time. After the retreat, we made a point to meet about every other week. Then our team met twice a week starting in mid-January: Mondays at 8:15 am via Zoom, and Thursdays in person at the Grandin Co-Lab at 8:00 am. Those early mornings were worth it. Everyone played their part:

Lauren: Smart and sharp as a TACK. Kept us on the straight and narrow in planning, financials, logistics, timing, and every small detail.

Shannon: Made things happen and helped our team become comfortable with AI. Her knowledge was crucial in planning our day.

Morgan: Our go-to person with a can-do attitude, willing to jump in anywhere. We couldn’t have pulled off the day without her.

Stephanie: The quiet voice of reason who kept track of our finances. The smartest woman on our team.

Blair: Our gift bag and laminating queen. She also provided the Red Sox VIP experience. Always quick with solutions, she made trips from Christiansburg twice a week!

Marlee: Our community guru/somehow knows everyone and if she didn’t, she was the first to reach out and connect with them.

Jeff: Our hype guy and viber. He secured the construction hats and always knew what to say. His positive attitude was infectious.

Greg: THE GUY. Our venue host, fundraiser, and caterer. Greg took on many roles and always did it with a smile.

Shout out to our awesome advisors. We especially couldn’t have done it without “Dad”, aka Aaron. He showed up for us, kept it real, and helped out in every way possible. Our other three advisors, Lacey, Megan, and Anna, were also fantastic and we appreciate their time in helping us plan our day.

We plan to keep in touch and continue to hang out post-LRV. We’re proud of planning a successful program day, but we’re most proud of the friendships we’ve made.

Thank you, Leadership Roanoke Valley, for an unforgettable experience!

Program Objectives:

1. Cultivate an Innovative Mindset: Learn what it means to be an innovative leader and how to foster an innovative mindset within teams and organizations.

2. Spotlight Local Innovation Initiatives: Be inspired by stories of innovations happening in our community across sectors.

3. Explore Innovation Opportunities: Interact with emerging technologies and discuss how innovation might enhance efficiency and create more creative pursuits.

4. Bridge Innovation and Community: Use the toolbox of innovation to find efficient solutions to local needs and opportunities.

Calls to Action:

1. Engage with Innovation: Identify one innovative solution you could implement in real-world scenarios in the next 3 months.

2. AI as a Tool: Leverage AI as a tool that can enhance efficiency and effectiveness rather than replace human ingenuity in everyday life.

3. Foster AI Conversations: Advocate for including AI topics in workplace discussions, promoting a culture open to exploring and understanding new technologies.

4. Use the Innovation Toolbox: Review and implement the tools obtained during today’s program day while finding new innovative tools to add to your toolbox.

Team Members:

Lauren Browning
Shannon Dominguez
Greg Hanlon
Blair Hoke
Marlee Richardson
Stephanie Smoot
Morgan White
Jeff Williamson

Team Advisors:

Anna Fierro
Lacey Levy
Aaron Shearer (Lead Advisor)
Megan Wade

URL to Team Photos: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1dPlMxCQmpBvr3Loa_-uChrcSwvLGQn57?usp=sharing

2024 LRV Transportation Team – From Railways to Runways

Summary of Team Journey:

On April 17th 2024, our transportation team of leaders brought together over 50 individuals to unpack how transportation, from the railways to the runways, is an economic driver in the Roanoke Valley. Our transportation journey began towards the end of our LRV retreat at the Peaks Retreat and Adventure Center when we met our fellow team members and advisors. We were provided with program guide and given the expectations for our LRV journey together. One of those main expectations were to successfully put on a program day centered around the topic of Transportation. At first glance, that seemed like a fairly simple task given the topic; however, we discovered that transportation was bigger than we expected.

Our program day wasn’t until April, so we viewed that we had plenty of time to really brainstorm and dig into what transportation was for the Roanoke Valley. Our first meeting together outside of the retreat, we filled up a board on what transportation meant to us, and all of the various methods of transportation. We identified various leaders in transportation in the Roanoke Valley, and began to reach out to them to discuss their roles in this system. After several months of meetings with Transportation leaders for VDOT, the Airport, Greenways, Valley Metro, local government officials, and many more, we felt that Transportation was more complex than we initially thought, and was woven by the many threads of governmental policy.

After sifting through countless hours of data and information gathered, we finally came to the goal of what we wanted to accomplish with our program. Transportation was and is an economic driver for the Roanoke Valley. By having a healthy and vibrant transportation system in place, the Roanoke Valley can experience tremendous growth and development. We structured as day as follows below in order to weave the web of transportations past, present, and future.


8:30 | Explore Transportation Museum, Network, Eat Breakfast
9:00 | A History Lesson with Bev Fitzpatrick
9:30 | Break
9:45 | Valley Metro Discussion – William Long
10:05 | Transition to Wells Fargo Tower
10:20 | Break
10:30 | Local Representatives Panel Discussion – Megan Cronise, Nicholas Baker, Stephanie Mathena, Frank Maguire, William Simpson, Dwayne D’Ardenne, Jeremy Holmes (Moderator)
11:25 | Transportation Themed Trivia Game
11:40 | Eat Lunch & Network
12:20 | VDOT Presentation – Anthony Ford
1:15 | Break
1:25 | Transition to Star Flight Academy
2:00 | Tour Session 1 – Mike Stewart Airport Presentation
2:15 | Tour Session 2 – Star Flight Hangar Tour
2:30 | Break
2:40 | Future of Transportation Panel Discussion – Ken King, Ray Smoot, Mike Stewart, Zach Trogdon, Mimi Coles (Moderator)
3:25 | Debrief
3:50 | Return to Transportation Museum
4:30 | Social at Big Lick Brewery

After our day was over, we walked away with a sense of accomplishment. Participants were able to see the importance that Transportation plays into the future of the Roanoke Valley, and were presented with advocacy opportunities to stand up and play an integral role in it. We are all thankful for our LRV journey, and look forward to continuing to make a change in the Roanoke Valley.

Program Objectives:

Objective 1: Illuminate the historical influence of transportation on shaping the Roanoke Valley into what it is today.

Objective 2: Empower participants with an understanding of the complex policies that are driving current transportation projects in the Roanoke Valley and how they can use their influence to affect change.

Objective 3: Inspire participants to envision the future of the Roanoke Valley and recognize the integral role transportation plays in it.

Calls to Action:

Advocate for change!
Attend a TTC, TPO, or locality meeting on upcoming transportation projects.

Show Gratitude!
Send a thank you note to your locality or VDOT and thank them for their work on a transportation project that has impacted you.

Fly ROA!
Support the Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport by flying local.

Support The Transportation Museum!
Visit the Transportation Museum and advocate for them in future legislation.

Team Members:

Ana Barios – Co-Chair
Matthew Thomas – Co-Chair
Molly Roberts – Chief of Staff
Greg Lionberger – Secretary
Karli Foster – Historian
Chris Hollish – Treasurer

Team Advisors:

Annie Harvey
Chelsea West
Rolando Homes
Leah Shank

URL to Team Photos: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1blzzHbPyyfHtYZfAJcxor7gEzO9JTHFj?usp=drive_link