2020 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.
Chamber Officers (the Executive Committee) are: Chairperson of the Chamber Board of Directors, Chairperson-Elect of the Board, Vice Chairpersons of the Board, Treasurer, and Chamber President and Chief Executive.
Cristine Nardi, Center for Nonprofit Excellence
Chairwoman of the Board
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.
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.
Jonathan Davis, Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital
First Vice Chairman
Jonathan S. Davis, FACHE, is the President of Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital, a 176-bed community hospital in Charlottesville, VA. He also has oversight responsibilities for Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital and Sentara Woodview and Sentara Meadowview Terrace, two nursing facilities. Davis has been at Sentara Martha Jefferson since January 2015. During his tenure, the facility has grown with the introduction of new surgical and procedural services, received its third consecutive Magnet® recognition for nursing excellence, was awarded a 5-Star Rating by The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services “CMS” and received many national accreditations to include the nation’s first Primary Stroke Plus Center by Det Norke Veitras (DNV).
Simone Alley, Piedmont Virginia Community College
Vice Chairwoman - Governance
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
Vice Chairwoman - Finance
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.
Peter Caramanis, Royer Caramanis PLC
Past Chairman of the Board (2019)
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 serving as Chair of the Chamber, he serves as Chair of the UVA Children's Hospital Advisory Board and as a member of the Tom Tom Founders Festival Advisory Board.
Christy Phillips, WillowTree
At Large Member - Executive Committee
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.
Paul Beyer, Tom Tom Festival
Paul Beyer is the Founder and Director of the Tom Tom Foundation and the Tom Tom Summit & Festival. Tom Tom’s flagship event occurs each April in Charlottesville, VA, and champions innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship in America’s small cities. Since its inception in 2012, Tom Tom has hosted over 260,000 program attendees, 350 bands, and dozens of public artists at wide-ranging creative events throughout the historic downtown. Tom Tom’s innovation programming has featured 1700 speakers, including iconic innovators like John Cleese and Dan Rather, alongside founders of Reddit, New Belgium Brewing, the Container Store, Chromat, and the Maker Movement. Tom Tom’s competitions and grant nights have seeded nearly $3.3M in grants and funding to entrepreneurs and nonprofits.
Guy Browning, MPS
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.
Melvin Burruss, Miller Law Group
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. He is Vice-Chairman of the Chamber Business Diversity Council.
Patricia (Trish) L. Cluff, UVA Health
Ms. Cluff is the chief strategic relations and marketing officer for UVA Health. Ms. Cluff oversees market research and planning; market strategy and communications; public, physician and community relations. As part of her leadership in community relations, Trish is a Board Member for the Center for Non-profit Excellence and a past-Chair for the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce. Ms. Cluff serves as the executive liaison to the Employee Council on behalf of the CEO of the UVA Medical Center. Ms. Cluff was awarded the prestigious Chamber 2019 ‘Q’ Businesswoman award honoring her accomplishments and contributions and was recently named to the 2019 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Board of Examiners.
Prior to joining the UVA Health System, Ms. Cluff served in leadership positions at Premier, Inc.; University of Kentucky HealthCare; University of North Carolina Health Care in Chapel Hill and University of Florida Health. While at the University of Kentucky, Ms. Cluff was recognized as the “young marketer of the year” by the Alliance for Healthcare Marketing. She holds Master and Ed.S. degrees from the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida and a Bachelor’s degree from Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri.
Michael Guthrie, Roy Wheeler Realty Company
Michael Guthrie became the Broker and CEO of Roy Wheeler Realty in 2005. His commitment to community service has been recognized with the Charlottesville Chamber’s Small Business Person of the Year Award, and his company, Roy Wheeler Realty Company was chosen as the Chamber’s Hovey Dabney award winner in 2016. He has been teaching real estate for over 30 years and is an approved CAAR instructor, and has recently been selected as a GRI instructor as well. He also has hosted his own radio show on Newsradio 1070 98.9, Real Estate Matters, for more than 8 years.
Guthrie currently serves on several boards including the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce, Abundant Life and the local FirstTee chapter. He is a member of Trinity Presbyterian Church where, as an elder, he serves on the session there. He graduated from the University of Virginia in 1975 and received his Masters from UVa in 1976. He has been married to Dottie for 41 years and has three children, 38, 36 and 33, along with seven grandchildren.
Stephen Horan, CFA Institute
As managing director of the Credentialing division, Stephen Horan leads the development of CFA Institute designation and certificate programs, including the CFA Program and the CIPM Program. As interim managing director of the Americas, he currently leads that team to deliver measurable value to CFA Institute stakeholders throughout the region. He also serves as leadership sponsor for the organization’s internal diversity and inclusion activities. Based in Charlottesville, VA, Horan brings a unique combination of industry and academic experience to CFA Institute. He previously served as an expert witness in securities litigation, a forensic economist in private practice preparing economic impact studies, a principal of a financial advisory firm, a financial analyst, and as a buy-side account manager and sell-side stockbroker. On the academic side, Horan served as a professor of finance and is a recognized researcher in wealth management, tax efficient investing, and derivatives.
Horan has received numerous research grants and awards, including the 2012 Graham and Dodd Readers’ Choice Award, and his research has been profiled in leading publications. He has authored or co-authored several books, including the highly regarded book Strategic Value Investing (which has been on Warren Buffet’s Recommended Reading four consecutive years) and The New Wealth Management: The Financial Advisor’s Guide to Managing and Investing Client Assets. His work has been cited in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Financial Times, and the Financial Analysts Journal. He has been a frequent invited speaker at professional, academic, and CFA Institute events. Before joining CFA Institute, he was an active volunteer both locally and globally with CFA Institute. Horan holds a PhD in finance at the State University of New York/Buffalo and a BBA degree in finance at St. Bonaventure University. He earned the CFA charter in 1993, the CIPM designation in 2011, and the CAIA designation in 2018.
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).
Cass Kawecki, Colliers International
As Vice President with the Charlottesville office of Colliers International, Cass Kawecki specializes in Investment Property Sales and Occupier Services. With over 15 years of professional experience in the commercial real estate industry across multiple markets, Kawecki leverages his acquired knowledge, resources and relationships to consistently create advantage for his clients. He has negotiated the closing of over $500 million in property transaction volume during his career to date. He has a tremendous depth of experience with investment property sales, having transacted across all property types and scales including land, multi-family, mixed-use, industrial, retail, office and adaptive redevelopment properties. Through his occupier services role, tenants rely on Kawecki as a trusted advisor, advocate and strategic partner. His clients include many of the largest and fastest growing companies with a presence in the Charlottesville area. He is a recognized expert in his field and has taught graduate-level real estate development and finance courses in his spare time for both Carnegie Mellon and the University of Virginia.
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.
Dr. Tarron Richardson, City of Charlottesville
Dr. Tarron J. Richardson is the City Manager/Chief Executive Officer for the City of Charlottesville, Virginia. As a municipality that operates under the Council/Manager form of government, he is responsible for implementing the public policies and directives set forth by the City Council as well as day-to-day management of all municipal departments and the annual budget. As a tenured City Manager/Chief Administrative Officer, Dr. Richardson continues to believe in having an open door policy. This has enabled him to address the concerns of his workforce, as well as the public, in an efficient and effective manner.
Dr. Richardson began his local government career as an intern for the City of Richmond, Virginia (Office of the City Manager). Dr. Richardson was accountable for preparing the legislative docket for the administration and managing City Council District projects. He was later promoted to the position of Assistant to the Chief Administrative Officer for Legislation. In 2005, Dr. Richardson was appointed to the position of Assistant City Manager for the City of Coatesville, Pennsylvania. He later returned to the City of Richmond to serve as Deputy Director of Public Utilities. As Deputy Director, Dr. Richardson worked in collaboration with a strategic management team that oversaw the utilities of gas, water, waste water and electric. One of his most notable achievements as Deputy Director was the establishment of Storm Water as the City’s fifth public utility.
In 2009, he departed from the City of Richmond to assume the role of Assistant City Manager for City of DeSoto, Texas. As Assistant City Manager, he was responsible for managing all City departments. In 2011, Dr. Richardson was appointed to the position of City Manager/Chief Executive Officer for the City of DeSoto. As City Manager/Chief Executive Officer, the City of DeSoto significantly improved its financial health and stability. Under his leadership, the City of DeSoto was able to maintain its tax rate for four consecutive years (FY2012 to FY2015) during strenuous economic times. Throughout this period, the City of DeSoto also achieved bond rating upgrades (AA- to AA) from Standard and Poor’s and Fitch IBCA, as well as an unprecedented growth in fund reserves and revenue sources. During his last four years as City Manager/Chief Executive Officer, he was able to reduce the property tax rate by 3.6 percent. This was in addition to restoring the original retirement contribution rate for employees back to 2:1 from 1.5:1, which was reduced in FY2010. Moreover, the City of DeSoto consistently received unqualified (“clean”) audit opinions and various other awards for superior fiscal management under his leadership. Dr. Richardson was also recognized for having multiple departments with national and State accreditation awards (Parks and Recreation, Police, Fire-Rescue, Library, Information Technology and Financial Services).
Dr. Richardson is an alumnus of Lincoln University where he received a Bachelor of Science Degree. He is also a graduate of Temple University where he received a Master of Education Degree and a Ph.D. in Public Policy and Administration from the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University. He is also a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated (KAΨ).
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.