Skip to content

LEAD Peninsula

Class of 2024 Sponsors

Sponsorship Opportunities Available for the LEAD Peninsula Class of 2025!  Click HERE for more information, or contact Jaime Parrish at

About the Program

LEAD fills the need to Learn, Explore, Absorb, and Disseminate the portrait of the Virginia Peninsula!

LEAD Peninsula is a community and civic immersion program, which offers a comprehensive, behind the-scenes look at the components that make the Peninsula run efficiently and effectively and prosper economically. LEAD Peninsula also fosters opportunities for increased communication and cooperation among the private, public, and nonprofit sectors.

Since 1984, LEAD Peninsula has been introducing its class members to the major facets of the greater Peninsula community through an intensive ten-month program. The LEAD Peninsula members participate in educational sessions, tours, and candid conversations with community leaders. The goal is to provide intellectual and personal connectivity experiences with the various aspects of our community – business, education, environment, health, history, hospitality, human services, infrastructure (water/sewer), local, state and federal government, military and federal impact, public safety, tourism, transportation, workforce development, etc.

LEAD Peninsula is not technically a leadership development program, but it is a tool in developing future leaders on the Peninsula and for your business/organization. Participation in this influential program is a win-win-win, good for the Peninsula, good for the Chamber as an influential voice of the Peninsula business community and good for your organization.

LEAD Peninsula is already a respected and outstanding program. Please consider helping us to expand its influence and impact and to drive continual improvement by nominating and enrolling one of your recognized or emerging leaders.

For more information on the LEAD Peninsula program, or for questions on the application process, contact Jaime Parrish at

Additional Benefit: The Virginia Peninsula Chamber has partnered with the Virginia Peninsula Community College - Workforce Development to present participants of the LEAD Peninsula program with ten Continuing Education Units (CEUs) upon successful completion of the program.

Class of 2025 Program Dates

August 27 - 28, 2024
Mandatory Overnight Retreat

September 11, 2024
Transportation Day

October 9, 2024
Energy and Environment Day

November 13, 2024
History, Hospitality, and Tourism Day

December 11, 2024
Education and Workforce Development Day

January 8, 2025
Poverty Simulation

January 21, 2025
Optional Richmond Trip

February 12, 2025
Technology and Manufacturing Day

March 12, 2025
Public Safety Day

April 10, 2025
Government Day

May 14, 2025
Federal Impact (Military) Day

June 11, 2025
Health and Human Services Day

June 18, 2025
Commencement Ceremony


“The LEAD Peninsula program was a life changing experience for me. I live and work on the peninsula yet I didn’t fully grasp all that goes on in our community. Thanks to the program, I better understand our economy in a wholistic way. We had experiences that you would never normally get like going inside of the bridge tunnel or getting a first had experience with poverty. Thanks to my education though LEAD I have a strong passion for regionalism and a drive to help fight hunger in the unhoused population. On top of all of that, the friends and relationships built with my classmates takes the cake for me. My classmates have been huge supporters and have offered me opportunities I would otherwise not have had. I love them! If you love our area and want to learn more, apply for LEAD!”

Elisa Campana – Marketing & Events Director, 92.3FM The Tide, Cannon Country 107.9 & (Class of 2024)

“LEAD is an amazing experience, allowing you to dive deep into the variety of employment, industry, and careers on the peninsula. But what truly sets this program apart is the people you get to know. The program brings together a diverse group of participants, all accomplished leaders from different industries, creating a powerful networking environment. Our group shared experiences, challenged perspectives, and built a strong network of support that continues to this day. Looking back, it was one of the best decisions I've ever made for my career.”

Earl W. Anderson – Chief of Development Services, County of York, Virginia (Class of 2023)

“Participating in the LEAD Peninsula program was an amazing experience for me, both personally and professionally. My job requires collaborating with local organizations and nonprofits and LEAD provided me with invaluable connections with classmates and community members. Each program date was well-thought-out and provided a wonderful opportunity to understand the behind-the-scenes work in our community. I wholeheartedly believe in the program's benefit to individuals across Hampton Roads, encouraging greater community engagement and networking across many different sectors. I highly recommend the LEAD Peninsula program to anyone seeking to make a meaningful difference in their company and community.”

Chrissy Anderson – Social Impact Specialist, Ferguson (Class of 2023)

“The LEAD Peninsula Program is an amazing opportunity for everyone, regardless of whether you are new to the area or have lived in Hampton Roads all your life. As the Assistant Director of the Center for Community Engagement at Christopher Newport University, I need to understand and gain knowledge on every aspect and issue that faces the community as a whole and the people who live in Hampton Roads. Through engaging in meaningful conversations with my cohort (Class of 2023, "The Best Class Ever") and making networking connections and friendships during my time in the program, LEAD Peninsula enabled me to accomplish my goal of learning more about the community I lived in. I strongly believe I have become a more conscious and involved citizen of Newport News and the Hampton Roads area due to my participation in the program.”

Jessie Deal – Assistant Director, Center for Community Engagement, Christopher Newport University (Class of 2023)

“I am responsible for government relations at Hampton Roads Transit. My position requires me to be familiar with issues affecting communities on both the south side and the Peninsula. LEAD Peninsula provided me with a strong foundation towards understanding the complex issues impacting the Peninsula. The program enabled me to meet and work with individuals on the leading edge of the community, providing meaningful work connections and friendships. These connections have been invaluable and enable me to be more effective in my work.”

Noelle Pinkard – Organizational Advancement Officer, Hampton Roads Transit (Class of 2023)

“As a recent participant in the LEAD Peninsula program, I can confidently say that this experience has been transformative for me, both professionally and personally. From the very beginning, the program offered me a unique, behind-the-scenes look into the workings of the Virginia Peninsula that I would not have been able to gain elsewhere. The comprehensive exploration across various sectors like business, education, and public safety allowed me to understand the complexities and the collaborative efforts needed to make our community thrive.

The opportunity to engage in candid conversations with community leaders and to participate in educational sessions and tours was invaluable. It not only broadened my understanding of our local infrastructure and services but also connected me to a network of passionate individuals dedicated to fostering a prosperous Peninsula.

What makes LEAD Peninsula stand out is its commitment to creating a platform for increased communication and cooperation across private, public, and nonprofit sectors. This program is not just about leadership development; it's about creating a deeper sense of community and understanding the critical role each one of us plays in contributing to the Peninsula's success.”

Lauren Barnes – VP of Corporate Communications & Branding, ITA International (Class of 2023)

“I highly recommend this program to anyone seeking to learn more about our great Peninsula. The LEAD program afforded me an opportunity to step out of my industry and immerse myself with other leaders in our area to see how we all can fit together. LEAD gives a unique view through many lenses and offers a fresh perspective of how we can tackle challenges in our own community. It was through this collaborative effort that I can bring new perspective to my industry and my community for continued improvement.”

Clay Pollock – Newport News Fire Department (Class of 2023)

“I think I value having a new perspective on just how much we have on the Peninsula in terms of resources, players, and the global view. I gained insights into what challenges the Peninsula faces as a whole, and how so may different organizations approach these problems in their individual ways. I also feel like I got a good understanding of the limitations and struggles individual sectors face when trying to do so (manpower, government, technological, funding, complexity, etc.). I truly feel that this program has made me into not just a resident of the VA Peninsula, but a genuine citizen of the Peninsula”

Anonymous (Class of 2023)

“As a new member of the Peninsula community, the LEAD program helped educate me on the wide variety of community assets the Peninsula has to offer and helped me meet many great business leaders. But, you don't need to be new to town to appreciate this program as there is a lot to learn about the industries and businesses across Hampton Roads!”

Sara Balgoyen – Development Director, Soundscapes (Class of 2023)

“As a veteran who chose to make Hampton Roads my home after service, I was eager to find ways to connect with my new community and make a difference. The LEAD Peninsula program proved to be an incredible opportunity to do just that, and the behind-the-scenes experiences were highlights of the program.

One of the biggest benefits of LEAD Peninsula was the network of like-minded professionals I met. Connecting with other veterans-turned-community-leaders, as well as leaders from the business and non-profit sectors, made my transition into this region far smoother. The relationships I built have created a sense of belonging and provided potential paths for my future involvement.

LEAD Peninsula fueled my desire to give back to the Hampton Roads community. The program's emphasis on regional issues, combined with the incredible behind-the-scenes tours, sparked my interest in areas where I could contribute my skills and experience. Whether it's advocating for veterans' issues, supporting workforce development initiatives connected to our vital port, or participating in local boards, I feel equipped and inspired to make a positive impact.

If you're a veteran looking for a way to dive deeper into the Hampton Roads community, understand its challenges, and find your place as a leader, I strongly encourage you to participate in the LEAD Peninsula program. It's a fantastic way to translate your service mindset into meaningful action in your new home.”

Sultan Camp – Director, Veterans Employment Centers, Hampton Roads Workforce Council (Class of 2023)

“Participating in LEAD Peninsula was extremely rewarding. As a lifelong resident of the Peninsula, there was still so much I did not know about our area! This was a comprehensive deep dive into community covering all aspects of the region. The program days ran seamlessly and I felt my time was very well spent. I truly feel that I can be an advocate for the Peninsula now. The Chamber staff paid attention to every detail and made this not only educational, but enjoyable. You can tell a lot of planning was done to execute the program so effectively.”

Lindsay Pennington – Managing Broker and Partner, Garrett Realty Partners (Class of 2022)

“I would highly recommend this program for those new and existing to the area. What a great hands on learning experience around all aspects of the community.”

Nicole Baker – VP of Sales and Services, Langley Federal Credit Union (Class of 2022)

“LEAD Peninsula is an excellent program that brings leaders from different industries together. I have learned so much about different businesses specific to the Virginia Peninsula area that I knew very little about before this program. As a result, I know now how to better support them.”

Crystal B. Bright – External Affairs Manager, Dominion Energy (Class of 2021)

“I can’t say enough good things about LEAD Peninsula. The schedule of events was well thought out, hitting on various sectors and highlighting notable aspects of the Virginia Peninsula. As a lifelong resident of Hampton Roads, I had many experiences and learned heaps of information completely new to me. LEAD Peninsula gave me a better understanding and appreciation of my home region, which I now share with anyone who has time to listen. In addition, the opportunities to connect with the leaders of our region were priceless. I met people who’ve gone on to support me both personally and professionally, individuals whom I now count among my friends, colleagues, and professional network. The resulting donations to the nonprofit organization I represent more than triple the cost of participation in the program. I highly recommend LEAD Peninsula to anyone interested in building their network and having fun while doing it.”

Rachel Kuchta – Development Director, Peake Childhood Center (Class of 2020)

"Participating in the LEAD Peninsula program was an amazing experience. I learned so much about the region that I didn’t know, even after living here for 20 years!  Each session is built around a theme and highlights different aspects of the region’s economy.  I also connected with some great industry leaders that I would not have met otherwise.  Don’t think you have to be in your twenties or early thirties to benefit from this experience!  I highly recommend LEAD Peninsula to anyone who wants to learn more about the 757 region."

Barbara Monteith - Development Manager, Alzheimer's Association (Class of 2020)

“The LEAD program gave me the opportunity to see different aspects of the Peninsula that were new to me, even though I was born and raised here. I am grateful for the experience and encourage others to take part in learning about our amazing gem...our Virginia Peninsula!”

Michele Benson (Class of 2019)

“I highly recommend the LEAD Program to any emerging or recognized leader as it is an opportunity to collaborate in an effort to improve many facets of the Peninsula. This is a rare opportunity to experience the inner workings of local organizations, ask questions about their operations and offer feedback. In addition, during the course of the program, you'll explore the mosaic of the Peninsula, meet other leaders and become friends not only during the course of the program, but potentially for a lifetime.”

Jenifer Spratley – Director of Marketing and Public Affairs, Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport (Class of 2019)

“This is an excellent program to meet leaders on the peninsula, learn the interaction of many programs, projects, companies and non-profits on the peninsula and Hampton Roads area. This program provides the best cross section of insights into the peninsula in particular. The VPCC has developed this into a learning and insight program that the leaders in this area should take advantage of to the maximum extent possible. It is a minimum impact on the company, and provides a very high return on the investment for the company and the employees.”  “The LEAD Peninsula Program is an excellent program connecting the local community businesses with the vast capability in the region.  The program really opens your eyes to the capabilities, diverse businesses, and opportunities in the Hampton Roads area.  You get insight at a depth that most of the population will never see, and how businesses can have a greater impact on the sustainability of the region.  I highly recommend this program for company leaders, and emerging leaders within the companies, regardless of the size of the company, organization, or type of business.”

Jeryl Hill – Engineering Group Manager, Science Systems and Applications, Inc. (Class of 2019)

“What a fantastic experience!! This opportunity increased my awareness and knowledge of the Peninsula community, the businesses, non-profits and people who are working hard to make it better place to live. The LEAD program also provided a tremendous networking opportunity to meet like-minded peers and build relationships to further strengthen the Chamber's impact on the Peninsula. I would highly recommend this program to anyone who is interested in our community and desires to make a difference!!!”

Chris Larkin – Senior Vice President Customer Solutions, ITA International (Class of 2018)

“The LEAD Peninsula Program was an amazing experience! The monthly immersions into the myriad of issues facing the Hampton Roads community proved to be invaluable to my professional development and facilitated a greater appreciation for the complexity of city management. Moreover, the Cohort experience yielded friendships and connections I will always treasure. Without a doubt, I'm a better citizen, leader, and professional due to the LEAD program.”

Colonel David Stanfield – United States Air Force (Class of 2017)

“The LEAD Peninsula Program has given me the opportunity not only to connect with future leaders of the area, but to befriend them. I have also had the privilege of getting behind the scenes tours of the major drivers of the peninsula economy including military, healthcare, education, political, transportation, science and environmental facilities. It has been an eye opening experience for me, and I have a deeper understanding and appreciation of how the region operates.”

Bo Garner – Manager, PBMares, LLP (Class of 2017)

Scroll To Top