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Women In Business 2013


For the past 11 years, Inside Business has been honoring women in business in Hampton Roads who have made a significant impact on the community, within their industry and by helping lift up other women on the road to success.

By honoring these women, we seek to encourage them and other women to trust their abilities, strengthen their self-confidence and participate in the economic growth of Hampton Roads.

From helping people manage their wealth, to leading local nonprofits, to overseeing the health and safety of the area's largest employer and builder of ships, to operating a farm, these women have vital roles in the community.

Our hope is this recognition will spur them on to even greater things. We're proud to introduce them to you and present them with this honor.
– Carol Lichti, Editor of Inside Business

The judges:

Anne C.H. Conner
President of Public Finance and Community Investment
2003 Women in Business honoree

Susan Kelly
CEO, Jo-Kell
2008 Women in Business honoree

Kate Meechan
Executive Director
VOLUNTEER Hampton Roads

Lisa Smith

Louisa Strayhorn
President and CEO, Louisa Strayhorn & Associates Consulting
Virginia Beach
2008 Women in Business honoree

Marian B. Ticatch
President, Ticatch Financial Management
Virginia Beach
2005 Women in Business honoree

Photos by Kathy Keeney
Special thanks to the Hermitage Museum & Gardens in Norfolk for serving as the venue for the photo shoot.

The honorees:

  • Carla Bailey
  • Cynthia Bischoff
  • Dawn D. Boyer
  • Dru Branche
  • Susan Colpitts
  • Caron Crouse
  • Courtney Darden
  • Dawn Eskins
  • Ruth Jones
  • Mallory Joyce
  • Lacey Lee
  • Patricia M. Liebing
  • Susan Pilato
  • Elizabeth Wallace Rountree
  • Randi Vogel


  • Carla Bailey President and CEO USA Backgrounds Inc.

    Updated: December 17, 2013 - 11:02 am

    Posted: December 13, 2013

    In October 2002, Carla Bailey was a new mom. With a husband in the military, the former Hampton city police officer wanted to provide her child some stability and change careers, so both parents weren't working dangerous jobs.

  • Caron Crouse Office Managing Partner Dixon Hughes Goodman

    Updated: December 17, 2013 - 11:00 am

    Posted: December 13, 2013

    Since joining the Norfolk-based accounting firm in 1996, Caron Crouse has worked her way up to become the first female office managing partner at Dixon Hughes Goodman LLP.

    The Moyock, N.C., resident is the administrator who oversees staffing, logistics and strategic direction in the Norfolk and Virginia Beach office. Through the company's Women's Forward Initiative, Crouse is helping to increase the number of female partners throughout its 10 offices.

  • Courtney Darden Founder and Owner, Designing Communications Group President, Uniglobe Travel World

    Updated: December 17, 2013 - 11:06 am

    Posted: December 13, 2013

    Growing up in Hampton, Courtney Darden was surrounded by military kids who had traveled the world. Wanting to get paid for the same opportunity without becoming a flight attendant, Darden started Uniglobe Travel World, a full-service travel agency in 1990.

    For the last 11 years, she juggled the Hampton-based business while working full-time as the assistant vice president and director of marketing at the Williamsburg Winery, a position she left in August to open her own marketing firm - Designing Communications Group, also based in Hampton.

  • Cynthia Bischoff Founder and CEOHeartliving

    Updated: December 17, 2013 - 10:55 am

    Posted: December 13, 2013

    Cynthia Bischoff was a professor in Old Dominion University's business school in the late 1990s when she realized she wanted something different. A colleague told her he thought she climbed the wrong mountain and suggested she leap off.

    "I said 'I'm afraid. I want to land with my feet on the ground,'" Bischoff said. "Then he said, 'Well, what if you're supposed to fly instead?'"

  • Dawn D. Boyer Owner D. Boyer Consulting

    Updated: December 17, 2013 - 11:04 am

    Posted: December 13, 2013

    Dawn Boyer has seen her share of trouble.

    She has been laid off twice - once in 2004, the same year her father died and the same year two close friends died - and again in 2009. She's been through a divorce. She watched as her mother suffered from Alzheimer's.

    But her misfortunes didn't stop her. She remarried and has raised three daughters. After her second layoff, she went back to school, at Old Dominion University, where she earned her Ph.D. in education

  • Dawn Eskins Owner Carolina Cupcakery LLC

    Updated: December 17, 2013 - 11:03 am

    Posted: December 13, 2013

    Who knew a cupcake shop would be a sweet spot in a sour economy?

    Six months after Dawn Eskins opened Carolina Cupcakery in Chesapeake, the stock market crashed. It didn't stop people from coming through the doors and the response prompted her to write the book - "Cupcake Confessions: How the Great Recession Inspired a Sweet Obsession."

    "People were crazy," Eskins said, explaining that on three separate occasions how she was forced to call police.

  • Dru Branche Environmental, Health and Safety Director Newport News Shipbuilding

    Updated: December 17, 2013 - 10:49 am

    Posted: December 13, 2013

    In her 30 years there, Dru Branche has held jobs in almost every division at Newport News Shipbuilding.

    She's been in accounting, warehousing, logistics and marketing. She even oversaw topside construction - which is everything except propulsion - of a few aircraft carriers. Branche didn't expect to do all of that when she joined in 1983; it just happened.

    "It's a great place to work," said Branche, who is two years into her job as environmental, health and safety director. "It's a land of opportunity."

  • Elizabeth Wallace Rountree Vice President of Development Goodwill of Central Virginia

    Updated: December 20, 2013 - 1:56 pm

    Posted: December 13, 2013

    Elizabeth Wallace Rountree has spent decades advancing "good causes," those who know her said, and she's not done yet.

    Rountree is an adept fundraiser, helping raise millions of dollars for Children's Hospital of The King's Daughters, diabetes, domestic abuse prevention and more. She is now vice president for development for the local Goodwill Industries Inc. arm, working in part to bolster the organization internally and expand its footprint externally.

  • Lacey Lee Owner/Trainer/Nutritionist Lacey Lee Fitness

    Updated: December 17, 2013 - 10:52 am

    Posted: December 13, 2013

    As a tennis player, Lacey Lee scored big.

    But when an injury put an end to her tennis career, she was devastated.

    "It was very traumatizing, that's for sure," she said. "It was really my whole identity. All I ever knew was tennis. It's still tough to this day, not being able to play."

    But Lee is tough, too, and she works to toughen other people up as the owner of Lacey Lee Fitness in Norfolk's West Ghent.

  • Mallory Joyce Financial Adviser MassMutual

    Updated: December 17, 2013 - 10:59 am

    Posted: December 13, 2013

    Mallory Joyce swore she'd never sell life insurance.

    But in 1980, she was a math teacher looking for a new career. A friend of her husband's suggested she fly with him and his colleagues to Springfield, Mass., where she met the leaders of MassMutual.

    She liked what she saw and decided that, in fact, she would sell life insurance.

    "At that point, there weren't many women in the business, and I couldn't find a reason why not to," she said.

    There still aren't. Out of 60 local MassMutual agents, only about 10 percent are women.

  • Patricia M. Liebing Founder and Primary Shareholder I Want it All Inc.

    Updated: December 17, 2013 - 11:01 am

    Posted: December 13, 2013

    Four years ago, Patricia M. Liebing of Portsmouth had gastric bypass surgery. And it didn't just lead to a new body, it led to a new life.

    She lost more than 100 pounds, and as her body shrank, so did her wardrobe.

    "I couldn't wear some things for three weeks before they were too big," she said. "So I started shopping consignment stores. I said, 'Wow, I think I could really like this.' So I opened my own store."

  • Randi Vogel Co-Owner Hunt Club Farm

    Updated: December 17, 2013 - 10:57 am

    Posted: December 13, 2013

    Randi Vogel went from entrepreneurship to corporate America to entrepreneurship.

    In the summer of 1996, after graduating from Virginia Wesleyan, she and her grandfather sold fish on the corner of High Street and Elm Avenue in Portsmouth six days a week. She did pharmaceutical sales after that and then went on to co-own a business: Virginia Beach's Hunt Club Farm.

  • Ruth Jones Executive Director YWCA

    Updated: December 17, 2013 - 10:53 am

    Posted: December 13, 2013

    Because it's often confused with the YMCA, members of the YWCA South Hampton Roads say the W makes a difference, and so does its new director Ruth Jones.

    Hired in June 2012, Jones has spent the last year and a half expanding services and earning additional funds for the nonprofit, which serves women in crisis and advocates for racial justice.

  • Susan Colpitts Co-Founder and CFOSignature.

    Updated: December 17, 2013 - 10:51 am

    Posted: December 13, 2013

    The co-founder and CFO of Signature, a Norfolk-based wealth management company, Susan Colpitts and her partner, Anne Shumadine, started the business in 1994 from scratch.

    They had worked together at Shumadine's law firm, where Colpitts worked as an accountant. Shumadine advised wealthy clients and the two saw an opportunity to meld the legal with the financial.

  • Susan Pilato Principal Pilato & Counts Interior Design

    Updated: December 17, 2013 - 10:54 am

    Posted: December 13, 2013

    When she was a little girl, Susan Pilato used to sit behind her father's office desk. He was the co-owner of the former Green Gifford Chrysler-Plymouth-Nissan dealership, and she was pretending to be the boss.

    Pilato doesn't pretend anymore. She and business partner Donna Counts run the show at Pilato & Counts Interior Design, and she has built a strong client base in two decades of business. Her father's example has helped guide her.