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Speaker Biographies

November 8 Keynote ​

Melody Short
Co-Founder
Richmond Night Market

Biography

Melody Short, Co-founder of Richmond Night Market, a small business advocate, investor and community builder serving entrepreneurs in the Richmond Region through Bridging Virginia, a community development loan fund providing access to affordable capital and technical assistance to small businesses and serves entrepreneurs in Oakland, Chicago and Boston through Runway, a financial innovation firm committed to dismantling systemic barriers and reimagining financial policies and practices- all in the name of Black liberation.

Speakers ​

Brian Becker
COO
Wellfound Foods

Biography

Brian Becker is the COO of Washington, DC-based Wellfound Foods which has the mission to increase access to fresh grab and go food via wholesale distribution and its 24-7 tech-enabled Smart Markets. Prior to joining Wellfound, he served as the Director of Small Business Outreach for the Ciocca Center of Principled Entrepreneurship at Catholic University. In this role, he and his team completed over 100 consulting projects for local small business owners, spearheaded the center’s COVID-19 response, facilitated the Inner-City Capital Connections program, and initiated the inaugural Capital Access Expo which drew over 200 local business owners and twenty different funders in the Spring of 2020.

Brian is also the founder of NE EATS a yearly event which showcased local food and beverage producers in DC between 2016 and 2019. The event would draw 300+ attendees, 30+ vendors and DC’s best and brightest food talents together in a festive and family-friendly environment. All proceeds were returned back to the vendors themselves.

Brian is native to the DC area, a life-long learner, and a life-long educator who has taught students grades 4 through college. He has a B.A. in English from Washington & Lee University, a M.A.L.A. from St. John’s College, and a M.A.I.S. from the Catholic University of America. Brian lives in Annapolis with his wife Melanie, his two children, and their dog Ginger.

Amanda Forrester
Executive Director
Greater Roanoke & NRV SBDC

Biography

Director, Greater Roanoke & NRV SBDC – picture on PD webpage Amanda is an experienced small business owner with a multi-disciplinary background and proven results in:

  • Strategic Growth
  • People and Culture
  • Systems Integration
  • Change Management
  • Brand Strategy
  • Customer Experience
  • Building Community
  • Human Resources

The many hats (preferably a green one, she says) Amanda wears have led her to work with exciting cross-functional teams and adapt to various roles as situations arise.

She likes to get her hands dirty (but keeps her nails short), looks every new challenge in the eye, and gives it a wink. She is a changemaker with extensive ideation and can relate to and engage even the most skeptical.

She has an aesthetically sensitive eye that is sophisticated, forward-thinking, and always honest. Her work is simultaneously beautiful and purposeful, whether creating something physical or leading in the board room. She believes everything is a story, and whatever form used to express it should first be honest and also happen to be entertaining.

After living in El Salvador briefly to adopt her son, Kevin, she returned to her hometown. She built a fitness brand through storytelling, community-building, and empowering a strong staff to carry out her vision. Seven years and two building expansions later, she negotiated and managed the sale of her affiliate for 80% goodwill.

Amanda is a George Washington University graduate. She is married to her best friend, mother to a son studying at the University of Lynchburg, and giddy-eyed for her pups, Duke and Holly. She currently lives in Roanoke but remains a nomad at heart.

Amanda believes small businesses that focus on employee engagement and culture are the heart of our community, leading to a strong economic impact for her service regions. She is the Executive Director of the Greater Roanoke + NRV SBDC and proudly supports the Roanoke and New River Valleys, Franklin County, and Alleghany Highlands.

Tiffany Fortune, SHRM-SCP, PSM, PSPO, LSSBB
Founder
TipTop HR Solutions

Biography

Tiffany S. Fortune is the founder of TipTop HR Solutions, launched in 2020 with the goal of providing first-rate Fractional On-Demand HR and Project support to small businesses in our local area. Tiffany has spent the last twenty years in Human Capital Management supporting and partnering with clients on both a local and global level. Developing and implementing processes focused on optimizing the employee experience.

Over the course of her career, Tiffany has been responsible for facilitating cross-project and cross-component learning and collaboration, overseeing the functions of communications, training, behavior change, and knowledge management. Aligning all activities with the organizational strategies of her client and company.

Tiffany is originally from California but has called Richmond home for the last twenty years after moving here with the US Army. Tiffany is a former Army Reservist and former VA Army National Guard. She has served on the Board of Greater Richmond Urban League and Richmond SHRM, and held the title of President of Greater Richmond Urban League Young Professionals and is the 2024 Richmond SHRM President-Elect and the co-producer and co-host of the Richmond SHRM Voices Podcast. Tiffany is an SHRM-SCP, Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, and Professional Scrum Master and Product Owner.

Shira Goldeen 
Events Coordinator
Central Virginia SBDC

Biography

Shira is an experienced trainer, production manager and project manager. With a strong background in theatre production and technology, Shira is the modern version of “My Girl Friday”, using her problem-solving skills and attention to detail learned from working in the arts to keep things running smoothly and efficiently. Shira jumped into the Central Virginia SBDC’s vacant Event Coordinator position to quickly learn and manage all event coordination and communications activities, while supporting our client services needs. She is now training, advising and leading with recommendations to support the growth of Central Virginia SBDC activities.

Rebecca Haydock
Director
Central Virginia SBDC

Biography

Rebecca Haydock is the Director of the Central Virginia Small Business Development Center, investor and screening committee member of Charlottesville Angel Network, and continues to be an owner and operator of businesses. After graduating from Cornell University and subsequently starting and selling her second business, she worked in economic development specializing in access to capital in New York, consulted in government contracting and business development in North Carolina, and moved on to New Jersey to manage a portfolio of 20 early-stage technology companies as a Director at Technology Management & Funding. Rebecca left TMF to become COO of two biotech companies in Virginia, one of which sold to a pharmaceutical company.

Rebecca is a Certified Global Business Professional and specializes in growth strategy and infrastructure, contract preparedness, strategic alliances, and equity capital. Her experience focuses primarily on high growth-oriented early-stage businesses. As Director of CV SBDC she guides organizational excellence, sustainable business practices, and building of operational infrastructure for growth with an emphasis on acquiring human and financial assets.

 

Bill Holloran 
Business Analyst
Hampton Roads SBDC 

Biography

Bill Holloran serves as the Business Analyst for the Hampton Roads Small Business Development Center. In this role, Bill provides managerial and technical assistance services, including marketing and sales, management and operations, and access to capital, to small businesses in the Hampton Roads region. His skill set includes operational management. Bill has been with the Hampton Roads Small Business Development Center since 2020 and worked in economic development as a consultant and volunteer for three decades.

Bill’s largely successful forty-four-year business career includes ownership and investments in several business ventures with a number of very talented management teams that still assist him from time to time with his endeavors.

Mesa McMurtrey  
Client Services Coordinator 
Central Virginia SBDC 

Biography

Mesa holds over a decade of experience in customer service. Prior to joining the SBDC, she most recently managed the office of a local government contracting business and was the personal assistant of a serial entrepreneur. She is pursuing a degree in Emergency and Disaster Management. As the Office Manager and Client Services Coordinator, Mesa is helping entrepreneurs find the resources they need while helping the Central Virginia SBDC develop systems to handle increased demand in client service requests.

Dan Myer
ICAP Technology Mentor
Virginia SBDC

Biography

Dan is the Co-Founder & Managing Director of 42Phi Ventures and invests in startups aligned with the firm’s mission to equalize access to wealth creation and desegregate capital. Locally in Virginia, Dan served as the Managing Director of Lighthouse Labs and co-developed the Lighthouse University Initiative by securing GO Virginia’s largest grant distributed at that time. Previously, Dan was the Founding Director of Runway, an innovation hub in San Francisco, where Dan led startup acceleration yielding 53 exits in 5 years as well corporate innovation for Fortune 500 partners.

Additionally, Dan built US partnerships for China’s $50B Didi Chuxing, advised Portugal Ventures’ $500M fund, and worked to grow the Extreme Tech Challenge into one of the largest startup competitions in the world, with finalists pitching to Sir Richard Branson at his Necker Island home.

Tracy Nayar
Assistant Director 
Virginia SBDC

Elizabeth Pyle  
ICAP Life Science Mentor
Virginia SBDC 

Biography

Elizabeth has 20 + years experience working with early stage startups, turn-around and rapid growth companies with $3,000,000 to $12,000,000 in revenue. Prior to joining GMU’s Life Science Business Mentor Team, she served as COO for Aperiomics, Inc. Aperiomics combined the latest advancements in science, technology, and medicine to change the way healthcare providers identify causes of infection. She oversaw the clinical test development, validations, regulatory affairs and operations on behalf of the company. ​

Ms. Pyle served as Associate Director for Technology Entrepreneurship and Director, for the NSF ICORPS Site Program at the University of Virginia’s School of Engineering & Applied Sciences (SEAS). She focused on developing and expanding the SEAS Technology Entrepreneurship Program beyond the classroom and across the university.

Elizabeth founded Pyle & Associates, LLC, an Interim Executive Management firm providing management and business consulting services across diversified industries. Her extensive experience in business development, strategic planning, marketing, operations, and leadership have left a lasting impact on overall business performance from startup to turn-around situations.

Ms. Pyle holds an M.B.A. degree from Averett University, a M.Ed. from the University of Houston, and a B.A. in Geology from Cedar Crest College. Known for her candor and high ethical standards, positive energy and astute people skills, she has become a valued resource for business incubator programs throughout Virginia and her success as a business consultant is reflected in the successful outcomes of her clients.

Jeff Robertson
Advisor
Greater Roanoke & NRV SBDC

Biography

Jeff Robertson, a native of Franklin County, Virginia, spent nearly two decades in law enforcement before taking on the business world. In 2008, Jeff transitioned into sales at Pro-line Trailers, where his drive and determination led him to lead sales and operations. Jeff continued to work in a marketing and mentorship role at Pro-line while forming his own consulting company, Jeff Robertson Consulting.

Jeff also became a coach and owner of a Fit Body Boot Camp. Jeff is a certified DISC facilitator for Take Flight Learning, a business coach for the Roanoke area SBDC, and a devoted husband and father.

https://instagram.com/jeffrabason

Dave Stadelmyer
Leadership Coach
Acorn Coaching & Consulting

Biography

Dave Stadelmyer is certified in Leadership Coaching for Organizational Performance from George Mason University. He provides values centered coaching focused through identifying the intersection of the client’s interest and passion to grow professionally and seek personal fulfillment. Dave has over 25 years leadership and management experience with the Federal Government and is an expert in effective feedback, difficult conversations and change management.

Tom Tanner
Advisor
Greater Roanoke & NRV SBDC

Biography

Tom has 23 years of small business ownership to include multiple store operations (25 locations) and direct supervision of 25 managers, and 150 employees.  He is very experienced in areas such as marketing, financial analysis, store operations and accounting. He is a federally licensed IRS Enrolled Agent (EA) along with possessing the Project Management Professional designation (PMP), a Six Sigma Green Belt, a QuickBooks Desktop ProAdvisor and Certified ProAdvisor for QuickBooks Online and hold the certification of EDFP which Economic Development Finance Professional from the National Development Council. 

Since 2007 he has worked as a Senior Business Advisor at the Greater Roanoke and New River Valley Small Business Development Center in Roanoke. At the Great Roanoke & NRV SBDC he advise small business owners in areas such as product development, operations, taxes, accounting, financial analysis and in other areas that help grow their business.

He is also the local coordinator for VetBiz, which is a local group he established to help veteran business owners connect with other veteran owners. Go to www.VetBizVirginia.org to register your business.

Kelsey Thayer
Human Resources Director
Concord

Biography

Kelsey Thayer serves as the Human Resources Director at Concord, where her focus and passion is steering organizations towards success through strategic HR leadership. With over a decade of experience in the field, she previously worked in the field of risk management consulting before finding her niche in HR.

While Kelsey once identified as a "department of one," her current role integrates her skills into a dynamic HR team. However, she still relishes collaborating with solo HR professionals, offering support, and fostering a sense of community among her peers.

Currently, Kelsey holds the position of President-Elect at Richmond SHRM and co-chairs a vibrant peer group of HR professionals in Richmond. She earned her Master’s in Human Resources Management from the University of Richmond and holds an undergraduate degree in Political Science and Communications from the University of Massachusetts.

When not immersed in HR (or catching up on much-needed sleep!), Kelsey enjoys outdoor adventures with her son, cooking vegetarian meals, and tackling the latest New York Times crossword puzzles.

Lisa Wood
Director
Virginia PTAC

Biography

Ms. Wood holds a MBA from the University of New Haven and a BSBA through the Robert Morris University of Pittsburgh. Lisa is currently pursuing her PhD in Instructional Management and Leadership (School of Education and Social Sciences) with Robert Morris University of Pittsburgh.

She previously was the Statewide Director of the Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTAC) for the Connecticut PTAC and prior to that was Statewide Director with the Ohio Department of Development after serving as PTAC Director for the Northwest Commission of Pennsylvania.

Before joining the PTAC community, Lisa was a Contracting Officer for Bechtel Plant Machinery, Inc. in the Greater Pittsburgh Area. In her prior roles, Wood performed contract administration and negotiation duties. She also recommended bidders, handled issue inquiries, negotiated bids, performed cost and price analysis, and prepared comprehensive letters to justify recommended contract actions.

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