The Richmond area is filled with women who are leaders and innovators at the forefront of their fields – and they’re pushing Richmond forward.
Richmond Times-Dispatch and Richmond Raceway officials said they’re proud to announce the selection of 12 winners for “Women Who Drive Richmond 2023.” The awards ceremony was founded to recognize local women for their positive impact on the community.
The Times-Dispatch’s partnership with Richmond Raceway was born out of the relationship between both entities’ trailblazing female leaders. President and Publisher Kelly Till is the first woman to hold that title in the organization’s history, just as Lori Waran is the first female president in the history of the raceway.
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They became friends earlier in their careers while working for two Virginia publications — Till at The Virginian-Pilot and Waran at Richmond’s alternative publication Style Weekly. After gaining their current titles around the same time, they met to celebrate and coined the idea of honoring other women leaders in Richmond.
“There are so many great things that are happening in the region. Women doing amazing things that are making a positive impact to the area and we should celebrate that,” Till said. “We wanted to make sure that as many industries could be represented as possible and we were excited by the turnout.”
Winners work in such fields as pharmaceutical manufacturing, politics, law, small business, addiction treatment, sports and higher education.
A selection committee chose from a pool of 80 candidates nominated by the community. The committee was comprised of Till; Waran; Kelli Lemon, director of digital programming for The Times-Dispatch; Paige Mudd, local news director — east region for Lee Enterprises; and Billy Garland, regional marketing director for Lee.
An awards luncheon will be held at noon Feb. 23 at the Richmond Raceway’s Torque Club, which overlooks the racetrack. The event will feature an awards presentation hosted by Till, Waran and Lemon. Tickets are available at Go.Richmond.com/Drive.
“In my new role at Richmond Raceway, I’ve been able to meet a lot of people that I hadn’t met in my previous roles. I’ve continued to learn each day about outstanding leaders in our region,” Waran said. “They’re entrepreneurs, they’re philanthropists, they’re innovators, they’re business leaders who have an extra gear and are really driving our region forward.”
Faith Wilkerson, owner and founder of Unlocking RVA, is one of the inaugural awardees.
Unlocking RVA is an event management company with the goal of connecting local upstarts to a wider audience and customer base. At one end, it can help smaller companies run their own events. At its own Unlocking RVA-sponsored events – like Brunch on the Plaza and Cocktails and Choreo – everything from the band, DJs, food trucks and event space is bookable. The company also helps promote small businesses through its social media presence.
“Owning a business is a labor of love, it’s something where you have to wake up and have the tenacity to go just as hard today as you did yesterday,” Wilkerson said. “It feels amazing to be recognized because we all love validation for the work that we do.”
The full list of winners is:
Jacquelyn Stone — McGuireWoods
Jerrine Lee – Richmond Regional Tourism
Kelly Thomasson – Dominion Energy
Stephanie Grana – Cantor Grana Buckner Bucci
Jennifer Wakefield – Greater Richmond Partnership
Paula Pando – Reynolds Community College
Jill Cichowicz – 2EndTheStigma
Dystany Spurlock – Dystany Spurlock Racing
Faith Wilkerson – Unlocking RVA
Carrie LeCrom – VCU Center for Sport Leadership
Megan Schultz – Sports Backers
Chandra Briggman – Activation Capital
Sean Jones (804) 649-6911