The Leadership Roanoke Valley Government Team Uncovers a Hidden Issue

This is the story of how eight strangers set out to change the world enact positive change in their community.

It all started at a historic resort beside an ancient dry lakebed deep in the woods of southwest Virginia. Brought together by outside forces the group was unsuspecting of the ways their lives would become intertwined. They were equally unaware of how significant the unseen water below that dry lakebed would be to their story.

The group, dubbed the Government Team, was tasked with developing a program to shed light on an issue impacting our region. It only took a couple weeks of research to reveal their true purpose and it wouldn’t be long before they were meeting weekly to plan how to bring a message of change to the Leadership Roanoke Valley Class of 2018.

Their purpose was to make significant steps toward improving the health of Roanoke’s waterways but they realized their objectives would have to be obtainable. After deliberation and encouragement from their advisors, they settled on these objectives:

• Define a waterway, how it works, and describe why clean waterways are necessary.
• Recognize the challenges our area has with stormwater infrastructure.
• Identify the roles government, citizens, and businesses have regarding stormwater management, mitigation, and treatment.
• Apply mitigation strategies in participant’s personal and professional spheres of influence.

Each team member contributed to finding expert speakers who would help accomplish their objectives. They worked collaboratively to find financial and in-kind sponsors, even completing their program with a surplus. Throughout the entire planning process every member flexed their leadership muscles, offered their unique talents, and fully engaged in the process.

A few bumps in the road presented themselves just before and during the program. An illness of a main speaker and panelist, an early morning parking snafu, a misestimation of timing, and miscommunication at a venue were all challenges that were handled with grace and professionalism.

Ultimately, the team presented the program—Discovering a Hidden Issue: Aging Infrastructure and Roanoke’s Waterways—to over 60 local leaders. The day was full of discovery, action, and fun. The attendees were challenged to take what they learned and incorporate it into their daily lives. The following calls to action were offered as starting points:

• Increase the number of citizens that participate in community-sponsored stormwater workshops or activities.
• Annually increase the number of citizens adopting stormwater management best practices for single-family residences.
• Continue to support community leaders in increasing the number of volunteers involved in community waterways clean-up activities.
• Spread awareness.
• Plant something!
• Visit the Roanoke Stormwater Management website and read the idea book for single-family residences.
• Attend the Storm Drain Art Project on Earth Day is April 22.

Post-program surveys were positive and showed that attendees discovered an issue they were previously unaware of. Most importantly, they had fun while doing it—a sentiment shared by the entire Government Team! And to think it all started with a dry lakebed.

Team Participants:

• Scott Miller, Keller Williams Realty Roanoke – Government Team Chairperson
• Libby Dembski, Boys and Girls Club of Southwest Virginia – Government Team Secretary
• Erin Bly, BB&T – Government Team Treasurer
• Megan Wade, Member One FCU – Government Team Historian
• Aaron Boush, Carilion Clinic
• Brad Timofeev, WebArt
• Jeremy Rakes, Trane
• Eric Eversole, Merrill Lynch

Team Advisors:

• Tim Cerebe, Freedom First, – Government Team Lead Advisor
• Stephanie Frost, Comcast
• Tara Nepper, Virginia Western Community College
• Dr. Eric Anderson, Forest Park Academy

A special thank you to the following businesses and organizations for providing sponsorships and/or in-kind gifts:
BB&T, Pillar, Spilman, Thomas, and Battle, Boxley, Northwest True Value, Meridium, design2influence, Chocolate Paper, Deschutes, Source4, Martin’s, Earth Fare, Starbucks
Chick-fil-A, Park Roanoke.

Workforce Development – Past, Present and Future

Workforce DevelopmentProgram Summary:

“What is ‘workforce development,’ and what relevance does it have on our region?” That was the question our team of eight participants contemplated during our first planning meeting in preparation for our January program. Within a few short weeks, we had assembled the names of workforce development experts across the Valley and begun interviews to answer that question.

By November, we were lining up expert speakers for our program, securing locations and hitting the streets asking local companies to provide funds for our program.

In December, with our program just a month away, we had designed an agenda, scheduled a meeting to review the program day with our speakers and lined up food to satisfy our attendees.

Our team woke up on January 17 with the news that snow was going to delay our program by a week. We quickly informed the Chamber, our speakers and the 2018 LRV class that the program would take place the following Wednesday.

On January 24, our team delivered an engaging, eye opening program showcasing the past, present and future of workforce development in our region, and specifically in Botetourt County. The day was nearly flawless, and post-program survey results show that attendees enjoyed the day, learned about the topic and took away meaningful lessons about workforce development efforts and needs for our region.

Without a doubt, our team is proud of the work we accomplished, the organization of the day and achievement of the goals and objectives of our workforce development program.

Program Objectives:

  • Participants take away an increased knowledge and understanding of the past, present, and future of workforce development in the Roanoke Valley
  • Participants discover ways they can contribute to the future of workforce development in the Roanoke Valley
  • Showcase the work being done in Botetourt County re: workforce development
  • Educate participants on the many paths to career success
  • Enlighten the experience and perspectives of participants with children

Call to Action:

  • Past: Advocate for the many paths one can take to a successful career
  • Present: Sign a form letter to your legislator about legislative issue
  • Future: Provide an opportunity for a student to shadow at your employer.
  • Entrepreneurship: Challenge participants to reach out to their talent acquisition team to see if they can help
    make a fit for somebody else.

Team Participants:

  • Brian Baksic
  • Daniel Bruch
  • Karenna Glover
  • Daniel Gunn
  • Allen McNutt
  • Anna Moncure
  • Ashley Thompson
  • Courtney Watson

Team Advisors:

  • Tim Snyder
  • Sara Guerry
  • Amy McArthur
  • Kevin Reeder

A special thank you to the following businesses and organizations for providing sponsorships and/or gifts-in-kind for the Workforce Development Team program:

  • Bank of Betourt
  • Bounty County
  • Ballast Point
  • Virginia Western Community College
  • Brandon Oaks
  • Cox
  • Medical Facilities of America
  • Hoffman & Hoffman, Inc.
  • Avis Construction
  • The Branch Group
  • Fleet Feet Sports
  • Mac and Bob’s
  • Viva La Cupcake
  • Beamer’s 25
  • Montano’s Restaurant
  • Altus Cholcate
  • Western Virginia Water Authority

LRV Class of 2018 Breaks the Ice at Retreat

Retreat for the Leadership Roanoke Valley Class of 2018 was held September 14 – 15 at Mountain Lake Lodge. With a tree tops adventure ropes course, Jinglepalooza and several team building activities, Retreat is a wonderful opportunity for participants to break out of their comfort zones.

Participants will meet again on October 18 for their first LRV program led by their advisors.

Building A Community: Putting the Pieces Together Presented by LRV 2017 Community Impact Team

Program Summary:

Building A Community: Putting the Pieces Together demonstrated how communities are built – literally – by highlighting the physical and social infrastructure that contribute to a vibrant community like Roanoke. Participants heard from a variety of community leaders who discussed the potential impact of broadband in the Roanoke Valley, the reimagined Colonial Avenue streetscape, individuals and organizations working in the West End neighborhood, the use of historic tax credits to spur redevelopment, and pubic-private partnerships driving the Explore Park project. The program connected how all of the infrastructural pieces fit together and how a community would suffer if one or more pieces were missing.

Furthermore, the program explored how decisions surrounding community infrastructure are made and challenged participants to consider the resulting intentional or unintentional consequences.  (more…)

K.E.Y.S. – Keep Every Youth Successful, Presented by LRV 2017 Government Team


  • Introduce and educate LRV participants on the foster care system and the challenges for youth who age out.
  • Give participants the chance to experience the foster care system.
  • Provide participants with opportunities to learn about government policy and program goals.
  • Identify ways to affect change for youth as they age out of foster care and become independent adults in our community.  (more…)