Workforce Development Team: Grow Your Own Workforce


Program Goals and Objectives

1. Generate Awareness of Regional Programs and Initiatives
2. Challenge Preconceived Perceptions and Inspire Empathy and Engagement
3. Encourage Participants to Explore Personal and Professional Growth

Calls to Action

1. Tell a job seeker or a business seeking employees about a resource that would help them
2. “Grow” someone else: Offer to be a mentor, encourage apprenticeship and internship programs, or volunteer
3. “Grow” yourself: Find your own mentor and regularly complete a self-assessment


The day’s theme “Grow Your Own Workforce” recognized that the Roanoke Valley already has significant potential with many resources available that serve diverse populations. These resources provide assistance to young people, people who have recently lost a job, those looking to switch careers, and some with barriers to employment. Because of low unemployment, many sectors are becoming creative in how they can “grow” their own workforce.

The Registered Apprenticeship Programs being offered in the region give high school students a jump start on their careers, as participants learned in four break-out sessions. In one session, participants drove the Western Virginia Water Authority’s excavator in an impressive 3D simulator. Rob Leonard with F&S Building Innovations Inc. spoke of the crushing student loan debt that apprenticeship programs can bypass, if we can overcome the stigma associated with not attending college. Representatives from Roanoke County Schools and Roanoke County Economic Development explained the importance of  “growing” our own students to be ready for the workforce upon graduation.

But often the Roanoke region is competing to keep local graduates and also graduates from nearby colleges and universities. Erin Burcham, Director of Talent Solutions with the Roanoke Regional Partnership, described her role over the past year to market the area to new graduates as a great place to live, work, and play. Erin encouraged participants to connect their businesses with her newly created internship program targeted at creating a social environment for interns based in Roanoke over the summer.

Lunch from Second Helpings “fed” into our “Grow Your Own” theme as Second Helpings, a program of the Rescue Mission, employs and supports job training programs for people without housing.

The afternoon kicked off with tours of the Virginia Career Works Roanoke Center, which showcased programs in the region that nurture both job seekers and businesses seeking employees. A leg of the tour included a short self-assessment, one that job seekers utilizing the VCW would be given upon arrival. Virginia Career Works executive director, Morgan Romeo, explained the variety of those that utilize the center including job seekers with with barriers to employment, those recently laid off, but also people who are employed and looking for new opportunities.

An impromptu call to action arose when participants learned that Valley Metro was currently accepting public comment on extending bus service to Virginia Career Works, a move that could double the number of people served. The next week, Valley Metro reported that the most common positive comment they received (several within an hour of the action alert email sent to participants) supported bus service to Virginia Career Works. Participants really did make a difference!

Throughout the day participants learned about resources and programs happening in the area to “grow our own workforce.” As the program began to wrap up, participants were reminded that their own growth was vital to the success of our region.
As participants finished up an afternoon sweet treat provide by Homestead Creamery, Karen Cardozo from Hollins University shared the importance of continued self-assessment and inspired participants to pursue their our own professional development by understanding their our personality types and those around us.

The day wrapped up with Ruth Cassell hosting a “Between Two Ferns” discussion with Patience O’Brien about the LRV Alumni Association and how we can “grow” in our professional development through the Alumni Association.


  • Western Virginia Water Authority
  • Virginia Career Works
  • Valley Star Credit Union
  • American Financial Planning
  • F&S Building Innovations Inc.
  • Nest Realty
  • First Citizens Bank
  • Roanoke Disc Golf
  • Roanoke Valley Orthodontics – Dr. David L. Jones
  • Johnson Orthodontics – Dr. Evan Johnson


  • Mike Altizer, Western Virginia Water Authority
  • Jay Brenchick, Roanoke County Economic Development
  • Jason Suhr, Roanoke County Public Schools Burton Center
  • Rob Leonard, F&S Building Innovations Inc.
  • Erin Burcham, Roanoke Regional Partnership
  • Morgan Romeo, Virginia Career Works Blue Ridge Region
  • Karen Cardozo, Hollins University
  • Ruth Cassell, Leadership Roanoke Valley Alumni Association
  • Patience O’Brien, Leadership Roanoke Valley Alumni Association

Team Members

  • Catherine Boush
  • Daniel Colston
  • John J. Hanna
  • James Hosch
  • Sara Lovern
  • Rachel Ruhlen
  • Smriti Sinha
  • Melissa Stankov
  • Meredith Thompson

Team Advisors

  • Chasity Barbour
  • Brian Hughes
  • Shamaill Ross

Health Team – A Disease of Addiction: Discovery to Recovery


  1. Demonstrate the misunderstandings around the disease of substance use Introduce the facts about opioids
  2. Learn about the impacts on the community, from youth to families to local businesses
  3. Seek out innovative solutions to reduce the number of lives lost

How the program went

  • The Health team felt that our program was successful because we set a tone and an expectation for others to comprehend the significance of the issue at hand. We felt throughout the day that the participants were not only moved, but called.
  • The survey results were overwhelmingly positive and reflected the success and the amount of work the team put into the program.

Did the program achieve the objectives? YES, the team felt this way and the survey results indicated this.

What would you have changed? Would have made sure that the allotted Q&A times were followed so that participants could ask questions. The Panel Discussion was the most obvious time that this didn’t happen; it was reflected in the survey results that while the discussion was great, the Q&A was badly needed.


Team Members

  • CJ Boothe
  • Brooke Tolley
  • Chip White
  • Lesa Hanlin
  • Andrew Whaley
  • Nicole Pendleton
  • Julia Clark
  • Maria Marte
  • Diane Nguyen 


  • John Gardner
  • Betsy Crow
  • Tim Snyder

Social Entrepreneurship Team: Turning your Moment into a Movement

Program Objectives

  1. Introduce the concept of social entrepreneurship
  2. Demonstrate social entrepreneurship in action
  3. Cultivate a passion for participation in social entrepreneurship

Calls to Action

  1. Think where you shop – how can you make an impact?
  2. Support local organizations
  3. Look at your place of work – how can your organization make a social impact or change in our community?

Due to the difficulty that our team had trying to wrap our heads around “what is ‘social entrepreneurship’?”, we decided that the first objective of our program day would be to have an expert come in and kick things off. Dr. Richard Hunt, a business professor at Virginia Tech, got the ball rolling by introducing everyone to social entrepreneurship and how it differs from typical for-profit businesses. He accomplished his goal of covering a lot of material in a brief amount of time, and he really got everyone thinking and kept the mood up-beat by highlighting some of the incredible social benefits that come from entrepreneurship.

After Dr. Hunt set the stage, we wanted to highlight examples of social entrepreneurship that might be more familiar to the uninitiated. To achieve our second objective of demonstrating social entrepreneurship in action, we started with a match-the-mission statement game that got people thinking about businesses they’ve probably shopped at or heard of. Next, to take it further and make it more tangible, we brought in four local speakers to talk about how they do social entrepreneurship in the Roanoke Valley.

  • Isabel Thornton (Restoration Housing) spoke about how her business utilizes historic tax credits to provide affordable housing.
  • Jacob Gibson (Interactive Achievement) highlighted how a for-profit software business upheld its mission to enable all students to learn and achieve in the classroom.
  • Xavier Duckett (Humble Hustle) showed how he merged his two passions, style and helping others – by starting a clothing company to fund his non-profits.
  • Brad Stevens (SIMPLE Roanoke) spoke about his micro-grant program that allows local start-ups to apply for a $1,000 grant to help get their ideas started.

To really let participants get their hands dirty, we adapted the tv show “Shark Tank” and made a game called “Dolphin Tank” (paying homage to a team member’s previous job working with dolphins). Each team was assigned a common issue found in Roanoke and had to develop a business plan that they would then pitch to our panel of pretend investors (the local speakers they just heard from). This proved to be a hit, and the winning team was awarded a fake check that they could have theoretically spent to start their business. More importantly, it got everyone thinking about how to create a solution to a problem that can sustain and fund itself.

Our final objective was to cultivate a passion for participation in social entrepreneurship. One way that this can be done is to support local businesses who put their mission before profits. To do this, we led each team to a different local business where they heard from leaders of that organization about how the business serves and impacts the Roanoke Valley, and the group also got a tour of the facilities. When we reconvened, each group shared what they learned with the other groups.

Finally, to wrap things up on a fun note, everyone loaded back up on the bus to finish the day off at the Deschutes Tasting Room. Our last speaker, Sara Sloan with Deschutes Brewery, highlighted how even a beer company finds ways to give back to the local community by organizing local events, fundraisers, and clean-ups. We then capped the afternoon off with a beer and our calls to action on how to get involved with social entrepreneurship.

Team Members

  • Allison Wolf
  • Elvir Berbic
  • Jay Jones
  • Madeline Sefcik
  • Scott Harriman
  • Suzanne Pierce
  • Tamika Hubbard
  • Tiffany Reynolds
  • Zack Marshall

Team Advisors

  • Amy Matheny
  • Stephanie Frost
  • Tom Smigielski


  • Dr. Richard Hunt – Virginia Tech
  • Brad Stevens – SIMPLE Roanoke
  • Xavier Duckett – Humble Hustle
  • Isabel Thornton – Restoration Housing
  • Jacob Gibson – Interactive Achievement
  • Zenith Barrett – Goodwill
  • Rick Morrison – Feeding America
  • Niki Voudren – Habitat For Humanity
  • Sara Sloan – Deschutes Brewery


  • American Electric Power
  • Feeding America
  • Freedom First
  • Goodwill
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • Kroger
  • Mill Mountain Coffee
  • Orvis
  • Skyline National Bank
  • Trane
  • United Healthcare



Volunteers needed for “JA in a Day”

Leadership Roanoke Valley (LRV) alumni and Junior Achievement (JA) are teaming up again to impact our community! Volunteer for “JA in a Day” on Wednesday, November 14 from 8 a.m. to noon in third grade classrooms across Roanoke City. There is a required one-hour training prior to November 14, which you will coordinate with JA after signing up. You do not need to be a LRV graduate to participate. If you are interested, please email Ruth Cassell at ruth3of5@gmail.com.

About JA in a Day

Imagine spending an entire school day with a classroom full of students who are excited to have you there, and are anxious to learn how to be successful in the global economy. JA in a Day is a special Junior Achievement delivery method that facilitates the partnership
between a business and an elementary school. Like all JA programs, business volunteers help educate and inspire youth about the connection between education and success in the workplace, and give them hope for the future.

JA in a Day is different from other JA programs only in that the entire JA elementary school program is covered in the course of one day in the school. At the end of the school day, the students will have completed all five JA lessons and will have earned their JA certificate. Normally, this process would take five weeks to complete. Curriculum, training and support is provided by Junior Achievement.

The Social Entrepreneurship team presents MissionsB4Margins

LOVEYear on Youtube: https://bit.ly/2xFtcX4

Program Summary:

This was more than a leadership program, it was a journey!  The journey began with the questions “What the heck is social entrepreneurship, and who are these people?”  We spent the next few months addressing these question from different angles and building friendships that we didn’t realize would become so strong.  We gathered so much information in the first few weeks that we realized the presentation needed to be focused and we needed to get serious.  This realization came when we calculated how many speaker gifts we would have to give, and we had way too many speakers!  The pinnacle moment came when the team decided we could be far more effective if we split into smaller groups.  The program would be broken into three sections; “Define it”, “Experience it”, and “Build it”.  Our group worked the best in a “leader by committee” structure, and this is truly when the meat of the work began.  We chose to highlight social entrepreneurs in the valley from the small local business to the large established organization as well as the facilitators and advocates of social entrepreneurship.

From the feedback received and what we already knew, we feel like we were definitely the group that had the most fun this year, and definitely the most photogenic!  Our cohesiveness through the year lead to us being very relaxed in our program. We were truly able to enjoy the day and be impacted by it just as others were.  We are thankful to all of our sponsors, speakers, advisors and everyone that helped bring our day together!

Program Day:

  • Define It – Vinton War Memorial
    • Call to Action:  Go home and fill out the B-Corp assessment for your organization.
    • Speakers: Peter Klemz (VCC), Annette Patterson (The Gauntlet), Tyler Godsey (5 Points Music Sanctuary), Mike Rigney (Orvis), Jen Brothers (House of Bread), Brent Cocharan (Cityspace LLC)
  • Experience It – Goodwill Tour
    • Call to Action:  Incorporate/adopt a Social Entrepreneurship in your everyday life.
    • Speakers: Goodwill Staff
  • Build It – Twin Creeks Brewery
    • Call to Action:  Volunteer your skill set at a local organization  (i.e. Hive or Gauntlet, RAMP, SBDC)
    • Speakers: Pete Peters (Town of Vinton), Andy Bishop (twin Creeks Brewery)

Team Participants:

  • Chasity “From the Streets” Barbour – Vinton War Memorial/ Town
  • “#Mike4Life” Chittum – Foot Levelers
  • Jeff “Twin 1” Collignon –  United Way of Roanoke Valley
  • Donald “Double-D” Deeds – Cherry Bekaert
  • Jamie “Task Master” Ellis – Power School
  • Jessica “Mom” Fintel – Roanoke County
  • Seth “Say Something Wise” McGuire – Hughes Associates
  • Tim “Twin 2” Pohlad-Thomas – RIDE Solutions

Thank you to our Advisors:

  • Frank Giannini – Member One Federal Credit Union
  • Courtney Campbell – Freedom First Credit Union
  • John Gardner – Branch & Associates
  • Shamaill Ross – Allstate

Thank you to our Sponsors:

  • Chasity Barbour
  • Cherry Bekaert
  • Hughes Associates
  • Branch & Associates
  • Vinton War Memorial
  • Pumpernickel Pickle Catering Co.
  • Dunkin Donuts
  • Kroger
  • Jerry’s Restaurant
  • Twin Creek Brewery
  • Land of Thousand Hills
  • Western Va Water Authority
  • Walkabout
  • Blue Cow Ice Cream
  • Dogwood
  • Vinton Chamber
  • Town of Vinton
  • Pepsi
  • Goodwill Industries of the Valley
  • Delish Treats

A Rising Tide Lifts All Ships: Using Collaboration to Create Cultural Change

Program Summary:

If we asked eight people to define “regionalism,” chances are we’d get eight different answers. That’s what happened when we began this journey. Eight people were struggling to get a grasp on what this word meant. As we started meeting with local leaders, conducting research, and defining our objectives, we were still struggling to define regionalism and create a concrete idea for a program day. After much debate, we decided regionalism wasn’t something to be defined. It was something intangible. It is ignoring government lines and a sense of pride and love for one’s community/region.

Once we realized that, the wheels started turning—how can we create that pride? We relied heavily on the Knight Foundation’s Soul of the Community study that identified the top three things that make a region “sticky” (or make people set down roots). They are openness, how accepting a community is to different people; aesthetics, a community’s physical attributes; and social offerings, ways for people to get involved and meet like-minded residents. We met with local leaders who helped us see that when one community thrives, those around it will as well and that we are a small enough community that even one person can jump in and create change. Groups and organizations showed us the ways they’re collaborating with different groups to create that stickiness a community needs, and they gave us some example of where work is still needed. These conversations drove us to our program objectives:

  • Celebrate grassroots change in the region
  • Demonstrate collaborative efforts enhancing regional culture
  • Educate and empower regional ambassadors

Our goal was to meet all of our objectives through our keynote speaker, panel discussion, a quick dot activity, and scavenger hunt. Our keynote speaker was Pete Eschelman, Director of Roanoke Outside. He would highlight where our region was 10 years ago and the strides we’ve made to be where we are now. He would talk about leveraging our assets to create a regional identity, collaborative efforts they’ve made, and how we can get involved.

Our panel would comprise John Dooley, the CEO for the Virginia Tech Foundation, Inc; Erin Burcham, the Director of Talent Solutions at the Roanoke Regional Partnership; Ariel Lev, a local entrepreneur and influencer; and Julia Boas, the Event Manager for Roanoke Outside. The moderator would be Thomas Becher, Senior Vice President with ndp. They would be able to highlight the social offerings in our region, show us ways that people are working together to create a better life for those who live here, and ways we can get involved and help continue this forward momentum.

We would conduct an activity that would reinforce the Knight Soul study by having participants pick out what they value in a community. We would discuss the results at the end of the day in our wrap-up.

The scavenger hunt would require teams to find real-life examples of social offerings, aesthetics, and openness in our region and share them with the group.

Afterward, we would have a social offering speed dating session. Local groups would come and speak with our participants to educate them on what they do and how to get involved. We wanted to cover everything from art and music to the outdoors and exercise. This activity would educate and empower regional ambassadors as they would be aware of several different ways people can get involved or encourage them to start their own group if they recognize something is missing. We’d follow this up with a “happy hour” so people could talk with the different group leaders on a one-to-one basis. It would also encourage them to complete our three calls to action:

  • Find your tribe to contribute personally to a strong regional culture
  • Share social offerings you’re passionate about through social media
  • Be a better regional ambassador by encouraging other to participate

Then, it snowed.

We lost two of our panel participants, Dr. Dooley and Julia Boas. Many of our social offering leaders had to cancel. In the name of safety, we operated on a two-hour delay, so we had to scrap the scavenger hunt all together. However, we felt that our program would suffer more if we had to cancel, so we decided to continue on.

And despite all of the challenges, we pulled through. We made adjustments on the fly and were able to put out a valuable program. Because of the delayed schedule, the day wasn’t as interactive as we had hoped (no scavenger hunt and not much of a discussion after the dot activity), and that was mentioned in the survey results. Some things may have felt a little rushed as a result as well. However, we still felt that our speakers were amazing. They were a wealth of valuable regional information and drove home our objectives. The highlight of the day was the social offerings piece. Participants mentioned they’d never heard of some of the organizations and were eager to learn more. Many people said they were hoping to get involved with some of these groups, and some participants mentioned other groups that weren’t present as ways for people to get involved and find their tribe.

Overall, we are proud of the final product. It wasn’t what we’d originally planned, but the adversity we encountered throughout the process, and especially on the day of, taught us a lot about ourselves and our leadership abilities. We were forced to flex those leadership muscles. It was an incredibly valuable experience for all of us, and we are happy overall with our program and what we brought to the LRV table.

Team Participants:

  • Andrew Chester
  • Alicia Demartini
  • Charles Denny
  • Brian Hughes
  • Leslie Huntress
  • Stephanie Long
  • Jeremy Waldoch
  • Timothy Wesolek

Team Advisors:

  • Jessica Webb
  • Phillip Clements
  • Michele Minter
  •  Tom Smigielski

Program Sponsors:

A special thanks to our sponsors whose support made our program possible:

  •  Center in the Square
  •  The Spot on Kirk
  • B2C Enterprises
  • Kroger
  • Salem Printing Company
  • Martin’s Downtown
  • LewisGale Regional Health System
  • Starr Hill Brewery
  • City of Roanoke
  • Park Roanoke
  • Fresh Baked
  • Jersey Lily’s Roadhouse
  • CDS Tractor Trailer Training
  • Five Points Music Sanctuary
  • Dunkin Donuts
  • Homestead Creamery
  • Mission BBQ
  • MKB Realtors
  • Virginia Lottery
  • Jefferson Center
  • Vistar Eye Center
  • Myrias Group
  • Freedom First