2021 Chamber Board of Directors
The general governance, direction, finances, procedures, and policy-making responsibilities of the Chamber of Commerce are vested in the Board of Directors.
Guy Browning, MPS
Chairman of the Board
Guy Browning is responsible for the publishing distribution operations of Macmillan Publishers both in the UK and here in Virginia. He has over 30 years’ experience in publishing logistics and now divides his time between Charlottesville, New York and the UK. He moved with his family from the UK to Charlottesville in 2014.
Elizabeth Cromwell, Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce
President & CEO
Elizabeth Cromwell is the President and CEO of the Chamber. With more than 30 years of experience in marketing, corporate sponsorship, public relations, investor relations and public/private partnerships, Cromwell has held positions in the private and public sectors. She also worked in e-commerce at a small start-up through its IPO. Prior to leading the Chamber in Charlottesville, Cromwell led the Frederick (MD) County Chamber of Commerce.
Simone Alley, Piedmont Virginia Community College
Governance Committee Chair
Simone Alley, a long-time business and civic leader in the Charlottesville area, serves as the Director of Major Gifts and Planned Giving at Piedmont Virginia Community College. She is also a long-time REALTOR ® with Roy Wheeler Realty. With 25 years of sales, business development, and marketing experience in Central Virginia and Charlottesville, Alley served in key leadership positions for two national telecommunications companies developing partnerships with local businesses, universities and non-profit organizations.
Active throughout the community, her past board service includes the Augusta Regional Chamber of Commerce, United Way Thomas Jefferson Area and the United Way of Staunton/West Augusta. She serves as industry leader earning the Classified Staff Core Job Responsibilities Award and the College, Community, and Professional Service Award in 2019. Past honors include Social Good Award, Most Professional Agent Award, Leadership Circle Award, Top Listing Agent Award and MMC Rookie of the Year Award. She is a graduate of Radford University and Leadership Charlottesville.
Colette Sheehy, University of Virginia
Treasurer / Finance Committee Chair
Colette Sheehy serves as the Senior Vice President for Operations at the University of Virginia, where she oversees the functions of the Office of the Architect, Business Operations, Facilities Management, Real Estate and Leasing Services, State Governmental Relations, and the University Building Official. She first came to UVA in 1982 as a budget analyst and served in multiple successive capacities in finance and operations before taking on her current role in 2015.
A native of Freehold, New Jersey, Sheehy earned a B.A. in economics from Bucknell University and an M.B.A. with a concentration in finance from Rutgers University Graduate School of Management. She is an active member of Virginia's Council of State Senior Business Officers, the National Association of College and University Business Officers, and the Society for College and University Planning. Sheehy currently serves as a board member for the Emily Couric Leadership Forum and the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce; she previously served as a board member for several organizations, including the Central Virginia Partnership for Economic Development, Leadership Charlottesville Alumni Association, the UVA School of Architecture Foundation, the Virginia Discovery Museum, and the Virginia Retirement System. In 1995, Sheehy was presented the Woman of Achievement Award from the UVA Women Faculty and Professional Association. She served as one of the chief architects and negotiators of the Higher Education Restructuring and Administrative Operations Act passed by the General Assembly of Virginia in 2005, a law that created a new relationship between the Commonwealth and its public institutions of higher education.
Cristine Nardi, Center for Nonprofit Excellence
Past Chairwoman of the Board (2020)
Cristine Nardi joined CNE as Executive Director in December 2008. She brings to her work an extensive nonprofit, legal and entrepreneurial background. She started her career as a Peace Corps volunteer teacher in Africa, and went on to manage the Uganda office of Volunteers in Overseas Cooperative Assistance (VOCA), an international nonprofit providing technical expertise to local cooperatives, farmers, and agribusinesses. After returning to the states to attend law school, Nardi clerked for the Honorable Judge Vanessa Ruiz, now Senior Judge of the D.C. Court of Appeals. She then worked for NARAL Pro Choice America directing reproductive health policy programs and providing legal and policy expertise to affiliates, legislators, and community organizations across the country.
Christy Phillips, WillowTree
Executive Committee At-Large Member
Christy Phillips is the Chief Talent Officer for WillowTree, a mobile innovation agency that builds digital products for some of the world’s leading brands. She leads the team responsible for hiring the best talent from all over the country and creating a world-class employee experience. She feels fortunate to work for a company committed to creating an inclusive work environment, which has helped WillowTree earn national awards such as Fortune Magazine’s and Glassdoor’s Best Place to Work lists. Phillips holds a BS in Management Information Systems from the University of South Florida.
Melvin Burruss, Attorney at Law
Attorney Melvin Burruss earned his Juris Doctorate (JD) from Florida State University College of Law as well as a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) from Stanford University School of Business. His practice of law has focused primarily on personal bankruptcy law. He has extensive experience in the mortgage banking and investment fields, having worked for major Wall Street banking and investment firms. As an adjunct professor at the University of Texas-Arlington, he taught business and marketing management. Burruss is the producer and host of the award-winning local cable television community program, The Neighborhood Law Center Inc.
Peter Caramanis, Royer Caramanis PLC
Pete Caramanis is a founding member of the law firm, Royer Caramanis PLC. Royer Caramanis handles a wide range of legal matters, and Pete's individual practice focuses on business transactions and litigation, as well as land use and real estate development. In addition to being a past Chair of the Chamber Board, he serves as Chair of the UVA Children's Hospital Advisory Board and as a member of the Tom Tom Festival Advisory Board.
Kara Chandeysson, Ting
As City Manager, Chandeysson is responsible for Ting business operations in Charlottesville. This includes strategic planning, growing the customer base, leading the local team and supporting the brand within the community. Chandeysson joined Ting with 20 years experience working for Bell Atlantic and Verizon. She managed teams in Regulatory and External Affairs, Network Operations, Fiber Business Development and Marketing and Sales. She was invited to speak at the 2019 National Fiber Connect conference and can also be heard talking about Ting Charlottesville on several podcasts through the Broadband Bunch.
She currently serves on the board for Charlottesville Business Innovation Council, is a member of the Fiber Broadband Association marketing committee, is a Network2Work Navigator, and is a deacon at First Presbyterian Church, Charlottesville. Chandeysson previously served on the boards for Westminster Child Care Center and Charlottesville Catholic School. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from Hood College and a Master’s degree in Public Administration and Policy from George Mason University. She was a member of Project Rebound and is a 2020 graduate of Leadership Charlottesville.
Chris Engel is the Director of Economic Development for the City of Charlottesville. In this role, he leads the City’s efforts to build wealth and grow opportunity for all members of our community.
Engel has a bachelor’s degree in geography from Mary Washington College and a master’s degree in planning from Virginia Commonwealth University. He is also a graduate of the Economic Development Institute at the University of Oklahoma and is a member of the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) where he is a certified economic developer (CEcD). Chris is a graduate of Virginia’s statewide leadership program; LEAD Virginia, as well as Leadership Charlottesville and the Senior Executive Institute for leaders in local government.
Yolunda Harrell, New Hill Development Corporation
Yolunda Harrell originally hails from Alabama (Roll Tide) but grew up predominantly in South Carolina. She has worked, served, and lived in the Charlottesville area for the last 13 years. Yolunda is a Christian, wife, business partner, executive manager, entrepreneur and CEO and Founder of New Hill Development Corporation. As a professional business leader, Yolunda is able to leverage 24 plus years of profit management, staff development, external and internal customer experiences, community engagement, and self-development. Repeatedly hired and promoted to challenging operations to improve asset management, quality of service, employee recruitment and retention, training and development of staff, ultimately leading to increased profitability. Developed and executed strategic revenue, marketing, and business strategies in existing, transitional, and start-up assets from $1mm to $12mm in annual revenues whilst simultaneously leading teams ranging from 15 to 90 members. During her hotel management career, Yolunda oversaw renovations and redevelopment projects ranging from as little as $1mm to upwards of $10mm.
Since living in Charlottesville, Yolunda has endeavored to contribute positively to the fabric of what is deemed as “community” by: volunteering as a GED tutor for the Adult Learning Center, acting as a facilitator for Dialogue on Race, community organizing for the City of Promise, and helping to create a social networking organization to connect African Americans in Charlottesville known as the Black Professional Network to name a few. Yolunda also decided to return to college to get her Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration while also participating in and volunteering for an entrepreneur development program known as Community Investment Collaborative which led to the development of her co-owned business, A Taste of Home Southern Cuisine; a food truck and catering business. Yolunda’s desire to work more effectively in her community led to her participation Board Development Academy through the Center for Non-Profit Excellence. Upon completion of her board training Yolunda began serving on the board of Girl Scouts of the Virginia Skyline, Charlottesville Albemarle Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, and BPN. Yolunda was raised to believe in the Golden Rule, to seek to give more than you seek to receive, and to bring forth thoughtful solutions to challenging opportunities. These values are what drive her vision and her purpose.
Wendy Horton, UVA Health
As chief executive officer, Wendy is responsible for overseeing all operations of UVA Medical Center. As top executive, she remains a champion for improving patient experience, supporting team members, and driving further investment in programs and people.
She joined UVA Health in March 2020 as chief operating officer to assist in the organization’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, subsequent financial mitigation, and recovery. Wendy worked to facilitate innovative initiatives and optimize clinical operations, priming the organization for future strategic success.
With over a decade of academic medical center experience, Wendy has developed robust clinical and operational expertise. As chief administrative officer at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center, she helped transform both structure and culture to elevate the quality of patient care, education and research throughout the College of Medicine and Faculty Group Practice. During her 12 years on the senior leadership team at the University of Wisconsin, Wendy led successful clinical growth and quality improvement initiatives. While serving as the UW Health Vice President of Operations, she drove the development and activation of a new hospital.
Wendy received a master’s in business administration in marketing and finance from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She also holds a doctorate in pharmacy from the University of Utah.
Wendy is a fellow with the American College of Healthcare Executives (FACHE) and a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt.
Roger Johnson, Albemarle County
Roger Johnson has served as Albemarle County's Economic Development Director since April 2018. Johnson has 12 years of private and public economic development experience, including leadership positions with Progress Energy, Florida and the City of Wilmington, North Carolina. Most recently, he served as the Director of Economic Development for the City of Greenville, North Carolina where he was responsible for the creation and implementation of all economic development strategies, programs, and policies.
Johnson has a Bachelor of Science in Personnel Management from Appalachian State University and a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership and Management from the University of North Carolina, Pembroke. Additionally, he has completed the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill’s City and County Administrators Program and undertaken post baccalaureate studies at North Carolina State University. He is in recent pursuit of a Economic Developer Certification through the International Economic Development Council (IEDC).
Arlene Lee, R. E. Lee Companies
Arlene Lee serves as CEO/Principal of R. E. Lee Companies, Inc. (REL), parent company of six businesses located in Charlottesville, VA, and working predominantly in the commercial building construction industry. In this role, she actively oversees the operations and strategic direction of all R. E. Lee Companies, which employ over 150 people in our community. REL’s companies handle the full life cycle of a building from development, to construction – both as a GC/CM and subcontractor – to facilities management and maintenance. She is committed to leading forward, based in the REL tradition – simply stated in three words: Pioneering. Honorable. Professional.
Lee is involved in several professional organizations including the Associated General Contractors of Virginia (AGCVA) and the Virginia Council of CEOs. She is a member of the Virginia BEST Review Board. Lee holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Cornell University. A commitment to community and education has guided her life and her volunteer efforts. She is currently on the boards of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce and The Business Climate Executive Committee, The Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce, The United Way-Thomas Jefferson Area, and is on the GSVSG Property Committee, the VOSH Convention Committee, and is a state leader for the Young Survival Coalition.
Ravi Respeto, United Way of Greater Charlottesville
Ravi Respeto joined the United Way of Greater of Charlottesville in July 2018 as the President and CEO. Her career in nonprofit leadership started as the Campaign Manager for the Charlottesville Waldorf School with a $3 million-dollar campaign to build an environmentally sustainable school. Her commitment to supporting the environment and sustainability led her to AHIP- Home Repair Nonprofit as the Director of Development and Marketing in August of 2010, where the mission is to focus on rehabbing existing older homes for low-income families. Ravi developed their fundraising program from a $50,000 a year revenue stream to $1.1 million over the course of seven years. In June of 2015, Ravi joined the Piedmont Family YMCA as the Development and Marketing consultant to complete a $19-million-dollar Capital Campaign to build a 77,000 square foot facility in McIntire Park. This project supports Ravi’s life-long passion for community health accessibility.
Ravi started her career at Whole Foods Market working across the Mid-Atlantic Region on the marketing and community outreach team, eventually managing the Triangle North Carolina and Philadelphia sub-regions with multi-store marketing campaigns and strategic community funding programs that supported healthy living and social community investment.
Ravi currently serves as the immediate past President of the Blue Ridge Mountains Rotary Club, is a member of the Board of Trustees for the Miller School of Albemarle, and a Board member of Virginia Career Works Piedmont. Additional Board work has included serving on the Salvation Army Board chairing the strategic planning committee and the Blue Ridge Home Builders Association as the chair of the marketing committee. Ravi holds a degree in Communications with a focus in Public Relations as a member of the Golden Key National Honor Society from George Mason University and has completed a certificate in Business Marketing from UVA Darden School of Business.
Charlie Rogers, Innovative Software Solutions
As the founder and CEO of Innovative Software Solutions (ISS), Charlie is resonsible for running all facets of the business. He has a proven executive management track record that combines the right mix of business, marketing, design strategy, and technical knowledge. His unrivaled vision and leadership keeps the company and its quality of work at the highest standards. Charlie's background allows him to identify opportunities and make smart decisions from a business strategy perspective while fostering a creative environment for day-to-day operations.
Prior to starting ISS, Charlie was the Engineering Manager at GE Fanuc, where he oversaw a diverse team of engineers locally and across the globe. At that time, he led a team that successfully launched GE Fanuc's next generation controller solutions. Charlie has also served as the Director of
Engineering at Alere Informatics and Medical Decision Network. Charlie holds a BS in Computer Science from Old Dominion University.
Jeffrey Thomas, SHINE Systems
Jeff Thomas founded SHINE Systems in 2007 based on the core values of integrity, vision, stewardship, communication, and other-centered relationships. A serial innovator and entrepreneur, Thomas has been serving dual business development and program management roles for a variety of clients for over 30 years. He has engineered systems at every stage of the intelligence life cycle for major IC programs. His profile features diverse, applied methodologies in capture, proposal, and project management; business process analysis and optimization; reporting, analytics, and software product/solution engineering. He also invented the patent-pending Patent/Technology Exploitation System (PATES™).
Thomas holds a BS in Mathematics and Computer Science from Hampden-Sydney College and began his career as a Software Engineer. He was quickly promoted to and became the youngest Project Manager for a 4,000+ employee systems integrator in the National Capital Region. An active member of the Charlottesville business community, Thomas serves on the Board of Advisors for First Citizens Bank, the Board of Directors at the Virginia Institute of Autism, and the Defense Affairs Committee at the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce. On the national scene, he serves on the HUBZone Contractors National Council and specifically as part of the Advocacy Team providing support for the Council’s legislative and policy advocacy program to enhance the Council’s influence within Congress and Federal agencies. An alumnus of Leadership Charlottesville, Thomas brings his passion for his community to local initiatives including autism, Wounded Warrior, and defense.
Sasha Farmer Tripp, Story House Real Estate
Sasha Farmer Tripp is a residential REALTOR® in Charlottesville, VA, and the Principal Broker and Owner of Story House Real Estate, an affiliate of Montague, Miller & Company, REALTORS. She also speaks and teaches internationally as a CRS Annual Sell-A-Bration Speaker and webinar instructor, and she coaches agents at state and local association conferences nationwide. Her experience and knowledge that she gathers from the other best real estate agents in the industry provide her company with invaluable marketing expertise, fresh ideas, and puts them on the leading edge of technology and marketing strategy. She has been selected by REALTOR® magazine as one of the Top 30 REALTORS Under 30, was recognized on the list of Inman Top 101 Real Estate Influencers in the nation, and has been the Charlottesville Area Association of REALTORS® REALTOR® of the Year (2016), Sales Associate of the Year (2012), and Rookie of the Year (2008).
Brinson White, Blue Ridge Title
Brinson White is Vice President and Counsel at Blue Ridge Title, a division of Chicago Title Insurance Company, part of the Fidelity National Financial family of title insurers. Fidelity National is ranked number 302 on the Fortune Five Hundred list for 2018. Locally, the company has been providing title insurance services since 1985 through a network of agents and the direct operation located just off the Downtown Mall.
Keith Woodard, Woodard Properties
Keith O. Woodard is an architect who has established a development and property management company, Woodard Properties, striving to find new ways to make interesting, comfortable and affordable places to live and work. Projects have included new student rental apartments, historic rehabilitation, commercial buildings and renovations, business park revitalizations, and individual homes. Keith has experienced the ups and downs of the development world with many successes and an occasional fiasco…think West2nd.
Woodard Properties is a ‘Great Game’ company, engaging employees and rewarding them for success. Support of many community arts, building, educational, and other organizations is an integral part of the company’s purpose.
Keith still lives in the house he began building in 1978. The house, and numerous additions have been a hobby as much as a place to live and raise four children… all of whom are now educated, self-funding, and having families.
Keith travels and dances with his wife, Adrienne, enjoys playing tennis, skiing, playing piano, cheers on the Virginia Cavaliers and his alma mater University of Kentucky, and occasionally lays awake thinking about the next project.