Each year, CoVa BIZ Magazine asks our business community to nominate young professionals who are leading the way and making a difference in Coastal Virginia. This awards program was previously known as Millennials on the Move. This year, we decided it was time for a rebrand—in part to make room for those Gen Zers we have been hearing so much about—but also to give the awards a timeless and forward-thinking name reflective of the energy and promise each new generation brings. As always, the honorees selected this year came from an impressive pool of nominations and were chosen for their demonstrated excellence not only in their professional endeavors but in their dedication to the broader community. Congratulations to all!
Images Courtesy of Dave Uhrin
Executive Director of Mathews County Visitor & Information Center
Emily has found fulfillment in her position through relationship building and place-making through the Mathews Visitor Center. She enjoys working with small businesses and entrepreneurs on initiatives that enrich the community. Emily is currently working on a Tourism Strategic Plan for Mathews and managing a capital campaign to save the Visitor Center’s home in the historic Sibley’s General Store. She is a Rotarian and is active with Mathews Main Street.
So far in my career, I am most proud of…my relationships with colleagues—everybody needs to feel supported in their life, and I feel lucky to say that I have that.
My next big goal is…to become an entrepreneur. My partner, Will, and I are renovating a historic cottage in downtown Mathews to open as a boutique vacation rental called Sugartoad Cottage!
The best piece of advice I have ever received is…to “rise above the babble of the crowd.” My great grandma used to say that.
Something not many people know about me is that…I hope to encourage young people to look at small towns to start their careers—you might be surprised what they teach you.
Gallery Manager and Center Curator at d’Art Center, Graphic Artist and Photographer at Bradley Depictions
Amanda runs the d’Art Center’s Galleries, located in the NEON District, providing opportunities for local and national artists to sell their work and gain exposure. She is a photographer and graphic artist whose work is featured in many local advertisements, events, posters, brochures, fliers and digital materials. Recent accomplishments include the 2019 Norfolk Harborfest poster and public art in the NEON District.
So far in my career, I am most proud of…providing artists from all over the country with opportunities to exhibit, share and sell their work. In 2021, I worked with 380 artists to exhibit over 600 pieces in the d’Art Center Galleries.
My next big goal is…to establish a bigger online presence for d’Art’s exhibitions and shows for more artist exposure and sales. I’m currently working on a massive archival project.
The best piece of advice I have ever received is…“Don’t wish for it, work for it.” You can’t expect your dreams to ever come to fruition if all you do is sit around fantasizing about them!
Something not many people know about me is that…I decompress and unwind by playing in the mud, aka using our ceramics studio. My design work and job can be so precise and regimented; it feels wonderful to get in the studio and create.
Owner of Carey Consultant Firm, Attorney and Consultant, Co-founder of REECH Foundation
LaKeisha is an inspiring attorney, philanthropist, wife of Don Carey III, mom of three and published author who is passionate about serving the community and using her resources to positively impact those around her. A graduate of Southern University Law Center, she practiced children’s law in Louisiana from 2011-2014. Now as a Virginia license attorney, she helps with business formation, nonprofits, grant writing, wills and estate, contracts and personal injury cases. She is a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
So far in my career, I am most proud of…forming countless nonprofits and getting new organizations their first grants.
My next big goal is…to assist the nonprofits I work with to receive over a million dollars in funding.
The best piece of advice I have ever received is…and I still live by…“Do not birth an idea before it’s ready to be born.” So many people have dreams, goals and aspirations but very few give the necessary time in preparation for their dreams and goals to be successful.
Something not many people know about me is…I’ve been doing work as a philanthropist since before I even knew what it meant (early teens). My heart has always been one to want to give back, help others and positively impact the younger generation.
Vice President of Member Services and Marketing for Coastal Virginia Building Industry Association
Originally from Indianapolis, Indiana, Reagan formerly worked for the National Association of Home Builders in Washington D.C., where she served as the nationwide membership specialist. In this role, Reagan consulted associations across the country on membership growth. Recently, she was elected as one of the youngest members to serve on the Hampton Roads Chamber Chesapeake Division Board.
So far in my career, I am most proud of…my ability to reinvigorate. A large feather in my cap has been working with organizations that have seen historic declines in revenue and membership, and I have been able to rewrite those stories.
My next big goal is…to start my own business. I would love to be able to make my mark on Coastal Virginia by joining the strong network of women business owners.
The best piece of advice I have ever received is…“Smooth seas don’t make for a skillful sailor.” This Franklin D. Roosevelt quote helped me to appreciate the hardships that challenging situations present and how they have led me to become more tactful and capable.
Something not many people know about me is that…I was almost a child actress! When I was 12, I was scouted by a talent agency, but unfortunately received no callbacks because I totally choked on my monologue!
Vice President, Private Banking Officer with TowneBank
Chelsea began working full time at TowneBank after completing an internship. A graduate of James Madison University, the Virginia Bankers Association School of Bank Management, the Vann H. Lefcoe Leadership Development Program, LEAD Hampton Roads and TowneBank’s LEAD Associate Program, Chelsea currently serves on the board of the Red Cross Coastal Chapter. She is a United Way Young Philanthropist, and volunteers with feeding the homeless and supporting TowneBank Foundation activities.
So far in my career, I am most proud of…becoming a Private Banker. It has always been my goal to be a Private Banker at TowneBank, where I am a financial partner and trusted advisor to my members.
My next big goal is…to grow my portfolio of professional members, which currently includes physicians, attorneys, veterinarians and business executives. I also want to continue serving my community and looking for opportunities to make a difference.
The best piece of advice I have ever received is…Find great mentors and then have ongoing conversations with them so you can gain advice on how to grow both professionally and personally.
Something not many people know about me is that…My dog Caicos is an island dog we adopted from Turks and Caicos. She is a delight for us and especially our daughter Ella.
Marketing and Existing Business Manager for Franklin Southampton Economic Development, Inc.
Ashley Covington has been with the Franklin Southampton Economic Development team for nine years and was born and raised in the local community. She graduated from Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia, her second favorite small town that starts with an F! She has a true passion for the community, helping small businesses succeed and showing people what there is to love in Franklin Southampton.
So far in my career, I am most proud of…the work done through the STARTUP Franklin Southampton program. It is a pitch competition with classes that has helped 10 businesses open and succeed. It has been transformative for our community.
My next big goal is…to make Franklin Southampton a destination. Not in the sense of building it up to a big city, but as it is. I want people to meet our dedicated business owners and experience what they work so hard to provide. Also, I want everyone to try our famous peanuts!
The best piece of advice I have ever received is…“There is always something to be thankful for.” My mother taught me, even on the bad days, there are pieces of joy if you just stop and notice them.
Something not many people know about me is that…I grow flowers and pumpkins in my free time.
Founder of Ernest Law Group (Image Courtesy of Ernest Law Group)
Anna is among a select few attorneys in the country practicing in the area of assisted reproductive technology, a method used by so many who are unable to conceive children on their own. Anna is a recipient of numerous peer-nominated and client choice awards. In addition to being a business owner, Anna volunteers at the Virginia Beach Court and at The Samaritan House, where she represents victims of domestic violence.
So far in my career, I am most proud of… establishing Ernest Law Group, a women-led law firm that provides a unique environment for female attorneys to realize their potential while also allowing for a personal/professional life balance.
My next big goal is…to connect with different lobbying and political groups to improve paid parental leave laws and broaden insurance coverage for infertility treatments.
The best piece of advice I have ever received is…Time goes by no matter what; take advantage of it. Try to make progress even though you won’t be able to achieve perfection right away. Whether it's little or big, progress is still progress!
Something not many people know about me is that… I love painting with watercolors. My father, a brilliant artist who recently passed away, taught me and inspired me in this beautiful art form.
Executive Vice President for Enrollment Services at Regent University
Claire oversees the award-winning marketing, public relations and enrollment management teams at Regent University. She is responsible for the university brand and communication strategy and directs all enrollment initiatives. She also teaches digital marketing in the School of Business & Leadership. Claire holds a Bachelor of Music and an MBA and is pursuing a Ph.D.
So far in my career, I am most proud of… helping thousands of students achieve their educational goals. It has also been an honor and a joy to participate in strategic growth initiatives at two prestigious universities.
My next big goal is…to finish my Ph.D. in organizational leadership! My dissertation aims to explore the constructs of visionary leadership theory in higher education settings.
The best piece of advice I have ever received is…“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” My husband Jimmy is an inspiration. Our life mission is to love God and love people.
Something not many people know about me is that…I have five children! When our twins were born, I suffered a traumatic brain injury but was given a second chance at life. Through those dark days, I found that when faith is all you have, you realize it’s all you need.
Brand and Development Manager for The Breeden Company
Richard is an entrepreneurial/marketing mastermind and a graduate of Old Dominion University with a degree in T.V. Broadcasting and Cinematography. Richard started a successful digital marketing business and became a well-known Virginia food influencer during college. Having a heart for Jesus, he spent four fruitful years as a Young Life Leader to urban high school students.
So far in my career, I am most proud of…the bridges I have been able to build to create growth opportunities for other businesses and entrepreneurs along their journeys. Afterall, this is how many opportunities were created for meMy next big goal is... to become a pilot. This will open a new chapter where I can serve people in and through the aviation industry in my spare time.
The best piece of advice I ever received is…to always trust God’s plan on the mountain tops and in the valleys of life. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
Something not many people know about me is…that Gordon Ramsay and his team invited me as a guest food influencer on his show 24 Hours to Hell and Back after discovering me through my Instagram page @InsideVirginia.
Director of Development for Special Olympics Virginia
In his role with Special Olympics Virginia, Austin works with individuals and corporations that want to expand opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities. Austin also consults with local sports organizations in Hampton Roads helping them with their marketing, multimedia and sales needs. He serves on the board of tHRive Young Professionals and the Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation Commission, and will graduate from LEAD757 this year.
So far in my career, I am most proud of…the meaningful relationships and friendships I’ve built through business and the people I’ve connected to one another in Hampton Roads.
My next big goal is…to expand programming at Special Olympics Virginia, specifically to introduce our Healthy Athletes Program to our second-largest statewide competition, Fall Championships, where we would provide free health, dental and eye care to hundreds of athletes that attend.
The best piece of advice I have ever received is…“Only a life lived in the service of others is worth living.”—Albert Einstein
Something not many people know about me is that…my wife and I are foster parents. Our goal is to help reunify families while providing a temporary home for children.
Community Troop and Grants Manager with Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast
Tameika leads the program that provides the Girl Scout Leadership Experience to underserved girls in our region. She is currently pursuing an MBA at Longwood University, serves on the Emerging Leaders Board for WHRO, mentors for ForKids, is an active member of Toastmasters and supports her fiancé in the Navy with whom she shares three dogs.
So far in my career, I am most proud of…providing at home enrichment activities to thousands of girls receiving free meals during the peak months of the COVID-19 pandemic, through months of isolation and uncertainty girls had an opportunity to do fun and educational activities, which my team was able to provide to them.
My next big goal is…to receive my PMP project management professional certification.
The best piece of advice I have ever received is…“Every passing moment is a chance to turn it all around”–Sophia Serrano.
Something not many people know about me is that…I am basically a mermaid. I love being in water (pool or the ocean). Seeing mermaids all around Norfolk is a reminder of how wonderful Coastal Virginia is!
Virginia Marketplace Sales Manager for Novatech
Payton is a third generation CoVa business professional with 14 years sales experience. She helped launch the Virginia Beach branch of Novatech. One quality that stands out about Payton is her impressive energy. As a volunteer transition coach with The Honor Foundation, Payton helps special forces veterans transition to the corporate world. “I love being around highly motivated people,” she says.
So far in my career, I am most proud of…watching people I mentor and coach succeed. One of my reps won Rep of the Year. I helped several veterans find employment and my sales team hit their stretch goals. It always feels better watching them win!
My next big goal is…to continue to grow Novatech and expand across the state. We support businesses with managed IT, print, cloud and security services and provide meaningful career opportunities.
The best piece of advice I have ever received is…A mentor once told me if I admire the style or skill of another to “Emulate it until it becomes your own.” My leadership style has evolved, but the foundation came from this.
Something not many people know about me is that…I met Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters at the Cavalier Hotel in 2018. Next to marrying my husband, it was the coolest thing that’s ever happened to me.
Vice President of One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning
For over 15 years, Ryan has been an influential leader and a builder of businesses. From his start in 2008 to present day, the size of the One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning team and revenue has grown over 350%. With a physical footprint that covers five locations in three different states, Ryan and his team have demonstrated the ability to serve customers and teammates all over.
So far in my career, I am most proud of…watching my father step back and enjoy the fruits of his 42 years of hard work. Followed closely by watching teammates achieve what they once thought were far-fetched dreams.
My next big goal is…to find a way to advance the Hampton Roads community through some form of public service.
The best piece of advice I have ever received is…“It is better to arrive at your opportunity a day late rather than a day early.”–Rob Rorke, NCAA basketball referee. (This is an ironic quote seeing as our company slogan is “always on time, or you don’t pay a dime.”)
Something not many people know about me is that…In my spare time, I thoroughly enjoy having people yell at me as I am a NCAA college basketball referee!
Senior Pastor for Pray First Mission Ministries and Director of Network Expansion with Communities In Schools of Virginia
Lathaniel is an innovative pastor, public servant and community leader. Lathaniel is responsible for expanding the nation’s number one dropout prevention program throughout Virginia. He is passionate about serving the community and advocating for historically marginalized communities. His experience and passion for faith, families and government has prepared him to be a 21st century preacher with a heart for social justice.
So far in my career, I am most proud of…leading a ministry that provides a clothes closet and food pantry to the East End community of downtown Newport News, supporting a regional apprenticeship program for young men and providing relief to Haiti.
My next big goal is…to remove underlying issues hindering school age children from success—homelessness, food insecurity, mental illness or lack of clothing—by expanding Communities In Schools to all Virginia Title I schools.
The best piece of advice I have ever received is…from fellow Morehouse alumnus Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: “If I can help somebody as I pass along, if I can cheer somebody with a word or song, if I can show somebody he's traveling wrong, then my living will not be in vain.”
Something not many people know about me is that…I’m the back-to-back champion in my fantasy football league and I haven’t missed a Dallas Cowboys game in years.
CEO/Licensed Architect, founder of OneSpace Design Studio
A lifelong artist, Jinal is one of the very few licensed women architects in Hampton Roads. Her company OneSpace Design Studio offers refreshing architecture services for residential and commercial projects. Jinal recently received a Top to Watch award. She is very involved in the community through organizations including ArtsForCause, Hindu Temple and Women-in-Design. To promote girls in the field of architecture, she has initiated a new scholarship with Advanced Technology Center in Virginia Beach.
So far in my career, I am most proud of…getting my architecture license. Coming from India, learning different styles of construction methods and going through rigorous professional testing while managing my young kids was not easy. Despite moments of doubt, I continue to pursue my passion.
My next big goal is…to motivate and support more girls in architecture.
The best piece of advice I have ever received is…from my dad (Sudhir Shah): “Do it today, do not wait for tomorrow.”
Something not many people know about me is that…Once I got to travel on a private charter to select furniture. It was an amazing experience.
Attorney at Law with Wolcott Rivers Gates
Scott is a an attorney who excels in handling complex civil matters, particularly those involving business and real estate problems and disputes. At the heart of his practice, Scott serves as his clients’ legal “quarterback” and strives to lead them to successful and efficient results, whether in or out of the courtroom.
So far in my career, I am most proud of…officiating/performing the wedding for two of my very best friends onstage at The NorVa with a ceremony I wrote. It was an incredible honor.
My next big goal is…to continue establishing myself as one of the leading riparian/water rights attorneys in Virginia. Providing legal assistance to waterfront property owners and stakeholders will always be a rewarding but challenging part of my practice. I am grateful to be working with (and learning from) one of the best riparian rights attorneys in Virginia.
The best piece of advice I have ever received is…the old saying that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” It jumps out as quite a bit cliché but still rings so true.
Something not many people know about me is that...I have a growing collection of old maps and vinyl records in my office. I love maps and geography and I have a huge appreciation for music.
Fancy Idea Alchemist, Gallery Manager with Lipstick & Chrome, Quirks!, The Sideshow Gallery & Residences, Mother of Two
Kendra calls herself a “Fancy Idea Alchemist,”constantly adapting to grow Quirks! into a thriving international retail site and expanding with branded accessories dubbed Lipstick & Chrome. She also volunteers with the local arts and performance nonprofit Culture-Fix.
So far in my career, I am most proud of…Our Lipstick & Chrome community. When our team first set out to produce our range of acrylic jewelry, we were looking forward to the creative outlet, dipping our toes into design and production, and building a new brand. What we did not expect to love so much, is the online band of collectors that has become part and parcel. I've genuinely made fast friends all over the world and am so proud of this diverse group of fun, supportive, entertaining and inspiring bunch we’ve dubbed our “Brooch Babes.”
My next big goal is…Expanding Lipstick & Chrome's offerings. This year we’ve perfected our wholesale program, and it has been stunning to see our products on boutique shelves from California to Singapore and London to Sydney. That’s certainly given us the confidence to test new waters, and we’re planning our first themed clothing collection and range of home decor products right now. Knowing that we can bring any quirky thing we imagine to life, makes the future very exciting.
The best piece of advice I have ever received is…“They don’t know it isn’t perfect.” Both my mother and grandmother never tolerated my extreme self-expectations. Reminding me to step back before evaluating my work taught me to be proud of my accomplishments, stay creative, constantly improve and try new things even if I didn't think I’d succeed. And of course, to not stress over tiny flaws that only I, probably...hopefully, notice.
Something not many people know about me is that…I am a total nerd. With two teenage boys at home, I love spending time with them playing video or card games, sharing comic books, discussing our favorite dinosaurs and debating our latest TV binge fan theories.
Founder & CEO of Create/Captivate and Co-Owner at Pawsnickety Pets
Kaycee founded Create/Captivate Digital Marketing and also co-owns the holistic pet supply store Pawsnickety Pets, both located in the Historic Ghent neighborhood of Norfolk. Kaycee serves on the Board of Directors for the nonprofit Granted VA, the Retail Alliance Foundation and The Ghent Business Association.
So far in my career, I am most proud of...becoming an employer! I have nearly a dozen employees between the two of my small businesses and I love providing others with a place they not only earn a great living but also where they absolutely love coming to work every day. At both businesses, I have managed to hire not only wildly talented marketers, designers and retail sales associates, but also phenomenal humans in general! My number one goal is to not only be proud of the businesses I have built but also of the humans that my employees evolve into as they thrive in their various roles.
My next big goal is...I am aiming to expand both businesses in the next year. With Create/Captivate, I am looking to create redundancy in all our current roles and bring on some more wildly talented marketers and designers as our workload continues to rapidly increase. With Pawsnickety, we are looking to move into a considerably larger retail space in Ghent in the upcoming months if we can find the right location.
The best piece of advice I have ever received is...No is a full sentence. You do not have to say yes to everything and every project, opportunity, etc. Saying no to some things is opening up a yes for the right opportunities. My best friend/business partner Shizuka reminds me of this often!
Something not many people know about me is that...I graduated from the smallest public school in the state of Kansas! I only had five other students in my entire graduating class and there were less than 30 students in my entire high school. My hometown/upbringing is an alternate universe compared to life in Norfolk, but I have never felt like I belong somewhere more than I do here. Norfolk is definitely my vibe!
Co-Owner of The Ruff House Stay & Play, President of K9 Angels Inc
Alongside his wife, Maria, Patrick co-owns and operates The Ruff House Stay & Play, a full-service pet care facility with locations in Chesapeake and Virginia Beach. Patrick is also the founder of the nonprofit K9 Angels Inc. He is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and served as a surface warfare officer. He enjoys coaching youth hockey and being a NCAA collegiate hockey referee.
So far in my career, I am most proud of…opening our second location in Greenbrier and quickly growing it into a successful business as well as an important element of the local pet community. I am incredibly proud of how our business has enhanced the Greenbrier area by providing an important service for the residents and employees who work here.
My next big goal is…to expand the capability and spread awareness about K9 Angels, especially at the medical provider and first responder levels regarding what we do and the benefit it can have for individual patients.
The best piece of advice I have ever received is…“If it’s not OK, it isn’t the end.” My father said this to me during some particularly rough times in my family and it has served as a regular reminder that things will always work out the way they’re supposed to if you are putting in the effort and doing the best possible job you can do.
Something not many people know about me is that…I really embrace the “jack of all trades, master of none” mentality. From automotive repair, motor racing, playing the saxophone and cello, to carpentry, cooking, electrical and IT work, my interests are all over the map.
Co-Founder and Chief Financial Officer for Towncenter Cold Pressed
Tiffany co-founded Towncenter Cold Pressed, a cafe serving coffee, cold-pressed juices and sandwiches that has expanded from one small kiosk to four storefront locations around the region. As CFO, Tiffany is responsible for the company’s financial functions, accounting, audit and human resources.
So far in my career, I am most proud of…the fact that I have built my company from the ground up. Cold Pressed started out as a vision, that lead to a mission, that is now a reality still on a mission. [I did it] with the help of my partners, team and family.
My next big goal is…to expand Cold Pressed into multiple markets and provide more opportunities. Bringing the joys of coffee and the community aspect it cultivates to as many places as possible is a dream of mine.
The best piece of advice I have ever received is…"Always do what is right, not what is easy." When someone asks me for advice, I always tell them my failures first, so they know that any success they see didn't come without a challenge.
Something not many people know about me is that…I coordinated the Powersports Events & Sponsorship for the 70th anniversary of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and was featured onstage for the unveiling of the military tribute bike created by Paul Jr. of American Chopper.
Sr. Mortgage Loan Officer for Tidewater Home Funding
Colby is a local mortgage loan officer who is focused on the Coastal Virginia community and next generation of leadership. Starting with joining the CBDX, Virginia Beach Town Center’s young professional group in 2013, Colby is now involved with many organizations including the Coastal Virginia Building Industries Association, Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art and Tidewater Mortgage Bankers Association. She loves college football, golf, and enjoying time with her family and friends.
So far in my career, I am most proud of…helping hundreds of families achieve their goals of homeownership, from their first home to their forever home.
My next big goal is…to continue my professional progression in the mortgage industry. I want to grow in executive leadership while being a resource for my referral partners and clients.
The best piece of advice I have ever received is…work hard, be kind, stay humble and have fun!
Something not many people know about me is that…While studying abroad in China, I dove off the world’s largest bungee jump over water.
Realtor, CMO, Owner, Investor and DJ with Encompass Real Estate Brokered by EXP Realty, Brothers Pizza, Code Ninjas, Exclusive Entertainment
After spending nearly 15 years working in the radio and entertainment field as a DJ, marketing director and senior account executive, Julian knows what truly drives companies to the next level. Julian Rivera is a professional entrepreneur who partners with many different companies locally. He is a real estate agent, DJ, multiple business owner, husband and family man. In his free time, Julian enjoys partnering with nonprofit organizations, hanging with his family, traveling and watching sports.
So far in my career, I am most proud of…being able to pivot into many different industries with the correct partners to ensure everyone can win in some way.
My next big goal is…continuing to help people help others in their professional career and their personal life.
The best piece of advice I have ever received is…from my late mentor Tim Meagher: "You've planted it, now just make sure you stop to smell the roses."
Something not many people know about me is that…I've DJed for 20 years, worked with many different celebrities, performed at many different venues in and out of Virginia and that I have five kids.
Vice President of Finance and Administration/CFO for An Achievable Dream
Amanda is a graduate of the University of Virginia with a B.A. in mathematics and Old Dominion University with a M.S. in accounting. She serves as a committee member on the audit and finance committee of Smart Beginnings Virginia Peninsula, volunteers with the Junior League of Hampton Roads and is a member of the CIVIC Leadership Institute Class of 2022.
So far in my career, I am most proud of…working at An Achievable Dream and being part of an organization that significantly impacts our community. It is an honor to work to bring equity to education and I am grateful for my role in making systemic change.
My next big goal is…to obtain a human resources certification to complement my CPA license so that I bring an even greater depth of knowledge to my role.
The best piece of advice I have ever received is…to do what you are afraid to do. I have read this countless times in my life and know that success can often come from taking risks and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone.
Something not many people know about me is that…I find weeding and gardening to be relaxing!
Kerry is a litigation attorney representing businesses in all civil litigation, specializing in workers’ compensation. Kerry served on Chesapeake’s Board of Zoning Appeals and has held leadership roles during her membership in Junior League of Norfolk-Virginia Beach. She is past chair of the Young Lawyer Section of Norfolk & Portsmouth Bar Association, chair of Pender & Coward’s DEI Committee and a member of the 2022 LEAD757 Class.
So far in my career, I am most proud of…Obtaining a favorable verdict in a difficult work injury case wherein the crux of the case hinged on a single fact I obtained during my investigation. That detail regarding the business’s operation enabled me to advance a rarely used but effective defense.
My next big goal is…to blend my legal skillset with my passion for local businesses, specifically striving to implement successful strategies and effective protocols from their legal formation through their maturity.
The best piece of advice I have ever received is…“Make one new friend a day,” which my mother told me when my parents dropped me off for my freshman year of college and still rings true.
Something not many people know about me is that…I’ve hiked across an active volcano at Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park and nearly melted the shoes off my feet watching the lava flow into the ocean at sunset.
Co-Founder and Co-Owner of Hemp House Wellness: A Cannabis Boutique
Sophia co-founded and opened her flagship CBD wellness shop, Hemp House Wellness: A Cannabis Boutique in November 2018. She is passionate about sharing the benefits of incorporating cannabis-derived wellness products into her clients’ lifestyles. Sophia balances her career with the joys and challenges of gently mothering her daughter, Lily. She infuses natural wellness into all aspects of her life, from local, organic food to naturopathic health remedies to a personal passion for yoga.
So far in my career, I am most proud of…opening a consultation-based wellness boutique offering cannabis to local residents, from children with ADHD to veterans with PTSD to seniors with chronic pain—breaking down the stigma around cannabis so more people can experience its healing potential.
My next big goal is…to become the first woman-owned cannabis dispensary in the state of Virginia!
The best piece of advice I have ever received is…you are enough just the way you are. Honestly embodying exactly who I am and fearlessly expressing my true nature allows me to feel successful in both business and motherhood.
Something not many people know about me is that…I lived in New Zealand for a year during college and learned to kite surf and snowboard!
Sales Manager/Real Estate Agent with Dragas Companies Realty
Morgan started in real estate in 2019 and quickly established herself as a top producing agent specializing in new construction homes. Morgan was named Outstanding Rookie in 2020, a prestigious award in real estate, by the Hampton Roads Realtor Association (HRRA) and honored at their yearly Gala. Her sales volume earned HRRA’s Diamond Stud Award 2020 and the Silver Nail Award in 2021.
So far in my career, I am most proud of…being a part of such an outstanding team of real estate agents and brokers. Their kindness, experience and field knowledge has pushed me to succeed.
My next big goal is…to launch a new homes community from the grand opening to welcoming the last homeowner.
The best piece of advice I have ever received is…“You shine, we all shine.” A colleague and mentor, Maureen Kolstee, has always supported our team members to be their very best. In an individualistic world, this saying keeps us strong and successful.
Something not many people know about me is that…I have a master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling. While I have decided to remain in real estate, I always try to utilize my knowledge to give back to the community.
Attorney with Kaufman & Canoles
Benming "Benny" Zhang is a Corporate & Securities attorney at Kaufman & Canoles, P.C. Previously, Benny served on the Williamsburg City Council as the city’s first Asian American, youngest member elected and the second William & Mary student to win a seat. Since completing his term, Benny remains actively engaged by serving on various nonprofit boards. He and his wife, Kelsey, along with their one-year-old Evelyn, are proud residents in downtown Williamsburg.
So far in my career, I am most proud of…assisting small businesses during the pandemic on legal issues pertaining to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
My next big goal is…to sharpen my legal skills and to deliver excellent legal services to clients.
The best piece of advice I have ever received…came out of my high school’s football program, which took inspiration from Abraham Lincoln: “I will prepare and someday my chance will come.”
Something not many people know about me is that…through my Chinese heritage, I belong to a Han Chinese subgroup known as the Hakka people.
About the CoVa BIZ Next Gen Awards
To choose the 2022 Next Gen Awards honorees, CoVa BIZ held an online nomination period in which exceptional young professionals were nominated by a colleague, relative or friend, or nominated themselves. All nominations were reviewed by magazine representatives and selections were made based on demonstrated business excellence, community involvement and civic contributions in the Coastal Virginia region.