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Made Possible By:

Activation Capital
Elevation Advertising
Profit Optics

Promotional Partners

Startup Virginia
VRTLA
Virginia Tourism

Radio Partners

Fredericksburg/NoVA
Tidewater
Richmond
Summit Media
Business

About SparkJam 2020

The region’s boldest innovators come together with expert problem solvers from Virginia’s top universities to explore solutions to the challenges facing Virginia’s Small Businesses at SparkJam 2020.
Join entrepreneurs, tech visionaries, business strategists, and Virginia’s community leaders as they collaborate to generate solutions for the business challenges submitted by the Commonwealth’s Main Street businesses— in real-time.
Presented by the Rocket Factory and made possible by Activation Capital, the VCU da Vinci Center for Innovation, Elevation Advertising, and Profit Optics.
Benefiting the VA30Day Fund and featuring talent from Virginia’s diverse music scene.
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Speakers

Laura Bower
Laura Bowser
Co-Author, Making Your Business Thrive in a Recession
+ Bio
Laura Bowser, the co-author of Making Your Business Thrive in a Recession, is a leader of several fast-growth businesses and non-profit organizations.  She currently leads Evolve Productions, a content and media company that provides customized digital education for large corporate, government, and small business leaders. 
She previously served as CEO of an award-winning diversity, equity, and inclusion firm and is acutely aware of geo-political issues as she leads content development teams and guides leaders on navigating through difficult times. Her multi-industry experience and credentialed HR skills have served as catalysts for business leaders and global humanitarian organizations on strategic direction for shifting behavior and performance of employees.
Chandra Briggman
Chandra Briggman
President & CEO
Activation Capital
+ Bio
Before being named the CEO in May 2020, Chandra was Director of Venture Café Foundation located in Cambridge, MA, and was responsible for strategy and operations of the global network’s flagship Venture Café Cambridge innovation hub. She played a key role in helping expand the revenue and the footprint in New England.
Prior to her work in ecosystem development in Massachusetts, she held innovation roles with the United States Postal Service in Washington, DC, culminating with her work as the Director of Digital Platforms and the Innovation Lab. Her prior experience comprised leadership roles with multiple startups, including Founder as a serial entrepreneur.
Chandra is an active member of the entrepreneurship and innovation community, including as a guest lecturer, coach/mentor, public speaker, and Chair of the Board for Youth CITIES – a 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to youth entrepreneurship.
She earned her Bachelor’s degree in the Humanities from Columbia International University, a Master’s in Marketing from Johns Hopkins University, and an MBA from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Aaron Dotson
Aaron Dotson
Co-Founder & Executive
Creative Director, Elevation
+ Bio
Great brands tell the truth. Aaron Dotson not only knows how to uncover the truth—he knows how to make it interesting.
Aaron has the ability to understand what lies at the heart of a client’s brand, and excels at translating that information into concepts and campaigns that reflect what makes the brand unique. As a creative director, brand strategist and copywriter, he has created and directed the production of the full range of advertising and promotional materials for his many clients—and his work has garnered countless national awards.
Aaron co-founded Elevation with Frank Gilliam in 2001. The firm, with a staff of 40, is dedicated to elevating the brands of its clients through strategically driven creative. Elevation was recognized as one of Richmond’s Rising 25, a list of the fastest-growing privately-owned companies in the region, and has also been named as one of Richmond’s best workplaces. Aaron and Frank were recognized as Ad Persons of the Year by the Advertising Club of Richmond—the region’s highest marketing honor.
Aaron is a graduate of the University of Virginia, with a B.A. in Rhetoric and Communications. He has two daughters, Kate (19) and Abby (17), and resides in downtown Richmond.
Art Espey
Art Espey
Creator, The Misfit Champion Sustainable Business Series
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Art Espey, creator of the Misfit Champion Sustainable Business Series – including Making Your Business Thrive in a Recession – is an advisor and mentor to many startups, small businesses and middle-market companies. 
He has grown and fixed businesses of different sizes for over 30 years including leading a company to the Top 100 of its industry nationwide.  He is the former Vice-Chair of Lighthouse Labs.
Todd Feldman
Todd Feldman
Founder & President
The Rocket Factory
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In 2020, The Rocket Factory was founded by marketing and digital commerce veteran Todd Feldman. Todd’s passion lies in addressing the needs of high-growth companies who seek to translate marketing performance into business growth. With deep business experience, Todd has spent his career achieving unmatched performance for the companies he has served.
As a global marketing and eCommerce consultant, Todd worked at the forefront of technology with a broad range of B2B and B2C brands. With knowledge in early start-ups, middle-market juggernaut, maturing and high-growth entities, Todd knows the unique challenges that face each of these business segments.
With a highly adaptable work style, his expertise lies in helping companies understand the “art of the possible.”
Eric Glymph
Eric Glymph
Founder
EDGe Business Planning
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Eric Glymph is the owner and founder of EDGe Business Planning which provides fractional CFO services.  He is a  co-author of Making Your Business Thrive in a Recession. 
Eric coordinated a comprehensive information communication campaign for government loan programs during Covid-19. 
Eric is a CPA who has competed in over 80 triathlons including 3 Ironman events.
Kelly King Horne
Kelly King Horne
Executive Director
Homeward
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Kelly King Horne has served as the Executive Director of Homeward, the regional planning agency working to end homelessness in Richmond, VA, since 2007. She worked in various collaborative roles with Homeward and the United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg from 2003 to 2007. Since 2018, Kelly has served on the Leadership Council for the National Alliance to End Homelessness, a national leader in addressing homelessness. Kelly serves on the Virginia Governor’s Coordinating Council for Homelessness and serves on the Affordability Workgroup of the Virginia Housing Commission. From 1995 to 2003, Kelly worked in Europe and the former Soviet Union with Habitat for Humanity International and with the Peace Corps. Kelly received her M.A. in Religious Studies from Stanford University in 1993 and her B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies from the American University in Washington, D.C. In 2015, she earned a Certificate in Business Excellence from Columbia Business School.
Mike Ledesma
Mike Ledesma
Executive Chef
Perch
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From Baltimore to Oahu to Richmond, Mike Ledesma’s culinary travels and Filipino heritage continue to inspire his cooking. Once a financial advisor, he made a career change in 2002 when he enrolled in culinary school in Hawaii.  Since moving from desk to kitchen, he’s worked under “Iron Chef” Roy Yamaguchi and has brought his passion for food back to the East Coast.
Most recently he led operations, training, and menu development for six restaurants as corporate chef for Richmond Restaurant Group. He opened his first restaurant, Perch, in September 2018.
Floyd Miller
Floyd Miller
President & CEO
Metropolitan Business League
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Floyd E. Miller, II, a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University, where he received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice.  He later received his Masters Degree in Education from Virginia State University.
He has a broad range of knowledge and experience in the areas of human services, education, entrepreneurship, and nonprofit management. Floyd has over 10 years of experience in criminal justice with the Department of Corrections, Henrico Sheriff’s Department, and Richmond Commonwealth Attorney’s office. In addition, his experience in the criminal justice arena has carried him into the classroom setting as a college adjunct professor. Floyd also worked closely with the Richmond Police Department and Richmond Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Task Force.  He was responsible for implementing the first Real Justice Family Conference Mediation Program for juvenile offenders in the City of Richmond. His primary focus continues to be on raising the awareness of domestic violence issues as well as educating the community on victim’s rights.
Floyd has over 20 years of experience in nonprofit management and working with a host of nonprofit organizations.  He currently serves on several nonprofit boards and continues to gain valuable experience in the areas of development and strategic planning.  In 2017, Floyd was appointed as the President  & CEO for the Metropolitan Business League after 17 years as the Senior Director of Urban Programs with Special Olympics Virginia.  As CEO, his main goal has been to promote economic prosperity in Virginia through education, leadership, advocacy and training for small, women, and minority-owned businesses. Floyd manages an executive team of twenty individuals; a host of community partner organizations, and network of over five-hundred businesses.   Some of his initiatives include but are not limited to, educational programming, research on systemic barriers and the creation of institutionalized support systems necessary for successful entrepreneurial activity that can create and maintain wealth building for low to moderate-income communities, communities of color, women and other historically marginalized communities.
Floyd has spoken at national conferences, schools, and universities, on the following topics: What Men Should Know About Sexual Assault, Underage Drinking, Restorative Justice, The Importance of Volunteering, Domestic Violence, and Child Abuse & Neglect, Diversity & Inclusion, Supplier Diversity & Procurement, and Entrepreneurship.
He is the recipient of the 2000 Men of Vision Award, given to him by the Virginians Aligned Against Sexual Assault, which recognized his incredible work and commitment to preventing sexual assault and crimes against women.  He was recognized by Inside Business as one of the Top Forty under Forty professionals in Richmond, Virginia.  Floyd received the 2011 Tom Joyner Morning Show Real Fathers, Real Men Award.  Floyd received the 2012 Bank of America Heroes Award for being a role model and leader in his community. He was awarded the 2013 Injustice Award from Church Women United Richmond for his commitment to inclusion and equality for individuals with disabilities. Most recently, he received the 2018 Manny Award, from My Brothers Keeper, for his leadership, community involvement, and commitment to service.
Lindsey Norment
Brand Director
Virginia Tourism Corporation
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Lindsey Norment serves as the Brand Director for the Virginia Tourism Corporation.
In this capacity, she leads the Brand department to strategically execute the vision of the iconic Virginia is for Lovers brand. Ms. Norment was raised in Richmond, Virginia. She is a graduate of James Madison University, where she studied Media Arts and Design. She currently resides in Richmond with her husband, Jeff, and their dog, Libbie.
Katherine O’Donnell

Executive Vice President
Richmond Region Tourism

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Katherine O’Donnell serves as Executive Vice President of Richmond Region Tourism. She was named to the role in 2018 after 16 years of Marketing and Community Relations leadership for the organization. As Executive Vice President, Katherine is responsible for enhancing the internal and organizational processes of Richmond Region Tourism by providing strategic leadership and oversight of business development and relevancy.
Katherine’s primary responsibilities include organizational strategy, advocacy, local media relations, business development and revenue generation. She oversees Sports Tourism Development, Meetings and Convention Sales, Visitor Experience, partnerships, events and training, as well as the organization’s diversity and inclusion strategies and educational Foundation.  Under her leadership, Richmond Region Tourism has consistently communicated the value and economic impact of tourism to the Richmond Region. She launched the wildly successful I Am Tourism community engagement program. She also pioneered OutRVA, the organization’s LGBTQ community-driven tourism effort more than 10 years ago and in 2019, she launched BLK RVA, a campaign to drive visitor spending to Black-owned businesses.
Following the completion of a 10 year Tourism Master Plan in 2019, Katherine led a staff recalibration and organization realignment to position human and fiscal resources to carry out the plan. Currently, she leads the plan rollout and implementation in close communication with the organization’s Executive Committee and Board of Directors.  As a result of the plan, Katherine also expanded the mission of the Richmond Region Tourism Foundation to include diversity and inclusion and sports tourism in addition to education.
Katherine is a Certified Destination Management Executive and serves on the Destinations International Advocacy Committee.  In 2018, she chaired the Advocacy Subcommittee to create a standardized presentation template for DMOs to use to demonstrate relevancy in their communities. Katherine was named a Richmond History Maker in 2020 for her work on BLK RVA. She is a member of Leadership Metro Richmond Class of 2016. And in 2015, she was named one of Style Weekly’s Top 40 Under 40 for her work on OutRVA.
Katherine holds a B.A. in English and Journalism from the University of Richmond.  She lives near the University with her husband, Darby, and children Norah and Henry. A North Carolina native, she says “y’all” regularly and spends her free time traveling and running.
Angela Patton
Angela Patton
Chief Executive Officer
Girls for a Change
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As GFAC’s leader, Angela has been recognized in the local Richmond, VA press as a Top 40 under 40, by a coalition of girl-serving groups in 2015 identifying Girls For A Change as one of five programs to note, establish a long-term partnership with the NoVo Foundation,  2016 by President Obama as A White House Champion of Change for After School programming for Marginalized Girls of Color and received the Nonprofit partner of the year from the Metropolitan Business League in March 2018. Angela is an Ambassador for who she calls “at-promise” (as opposed to “at-risk”) girls and a  serial innovator.
Angela is committed to “Preparing Black girls for the World …and the World for Black Girls. Angela founded
Camp Diva in Richmond, Va., in 2004, to honor Diva Mstadi Smith-Roan a five-year-old who died in a firearm accident earlier that year. That summer, Angela planned a two- week summer experience that gave Diva’s mother an opportunity to share her motherly love with girls in need of a support system. The program grew and went national in October 2013, when Camp Diva merged with California-based Girls For A Change (GFAC), a nonprofit through which 100 girls’ groups throughout nation work together to envision and execute lasting change in their neighborhoods, cities, or schools Patton, is the CEO of the merged organization. In the summer of 2016 Patton lead her board and staff retool the focus and build a program structure  and provide space for girls  to more accurately reflect GFAC’s goal to work with Black girls and to disseminate our programs using a specific, replicable approach
Angela’s TED talk describing a father-daughter dance for incarcerated dads and their “at-promise” girls has been viewed over 900,000 times. Following its release, Angela’s work was featured on ABC World News, Inside Edition, NPR and This is Life Lisa Ling she has been in demand from corporations, at conferences on girls, as well as colleges and universities throughout the country. When she isn’t inspiring change, advocating gender equality, and promoting opportunities and empowering girls, she is hanging with her family in Richmond, VA, enjoying festivals and concerts with her husband and motivator, Raymond Patton, and their loving children, Imhotep and Asani. Her interests include spending a day at the spa, visiting the Caribbean’s, cardio kickboxing, watching documentaries and attending dinner parties with close friends.
Erin Powell
Erin Powell

Executive Director
Lighthouse Labs

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Erin has spent her career creating connection, capital, and customers that have allowed founders in technology and beyond to build their dreams. No stranger to the high-growth startup scene, Erin’s career has ranged from launching her own successful eCommerce brand to growing some of the region’s largest Software as a Service (SaaS) companies.
Erin began her career helping colleges and universities drive enrollment at Royall & Company, an educational marketing and technology firm in Richmond, Virginia. From there, Erin spent a decade building sales and growth channels at the fast-growing HR technology firm, Snagajob. Her passion for startups then propelled Erin to create her own eCommerce juice brand, Ginger Juice, that quickly grew to also include brick-and-mortar.
After scaling the Ginger Juice brand to the point of franchising, Erin decided to leverage her passion for the high-growth, SaaS technology scene to Lighthouse Labs, a nationally recognized top 25 seed-stage accelerator. Today Erin is committed to Investing in the Lives of Founders,™ a mantra that she has lived for over two decades while impacting a thriving technology and entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Maria Puletti
Maria Puletti
Owner
Portofino Restaurant
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The Portofino Restaurant, a fine-dining Northern Italian restaurant in Arlington, VA, was started in 1970 by Maria’s parents, Sergio and Pilar Micheli. Over the last 50 years, her family has owned 6 award-winning restaurants in Virginia.
Maria has worked in the restaurant business since she was a child and along with her brother, Richard Micheli run the Portofino Restaurant together.  As a Virginia Tech alum, Maria has served many capacities in the business with a focus on personnel and finances.   Maria also serves in finance positions for several other family member’s businesses as well.  She enjoys carrying on the family business and has a son who is a chef in Baton Rouge, LA.
Rob Roy
Rob Roy (Keynote)
SVP, Digital, Emerging Markets
T-Mobile, USA
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Rob Roy is a highly respected leader in Digital Transformation. As the Chief Digital Officer for sprint.com and boostmobile.com he set out on a mission to deliver the “largest-scale digital transformation” of any Fortune 100 company to date and helping Sprint to become a mobile- and digital-first company. The role is focused on continuing Sprint’s digital evolution by development and driving of strategies that fuel growth, achieve strategic and operational goals, and address significant opportunities for cost savings.
From 2015 – 2016 Rob Roy worked as the Senior Vice President – Head of eCommerce and Digital Revenue for Comcast. Responsible for the e-Commerce and Digital Revenue activities for the #1 cable company in the United States. In this role as Head of Digital Revenue, he is responsible for the strategic vision, product development, and sales across all digital channels for both residential & business.
Pete Snyder
Pete Snyder
Founder
The Virginia 30 Day Fund
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Pete Snyder is the Chief Executive Officer of Disruptor Capital, an angel capital investment firm focused on funding and growing disruptive technologies, ideas and entrepreneurs.
Prior to starting Disruptor, Pete was the Founder and CEO of New Media Strategies, the world’s first and one of the largest social media marketing agencies. Snyder also served as President of Emerging Markets for Meredith Corporation’s full-service direct and digital marketing agency.
An innovator, Pete was one of the earliest pioneers in the social media industry. In his 12 years as CEO at New Media Strategies, Snyder built a blue-chip client base that featured some of the world’s leading brands and companies including ABC, AMC, Burger King, CBS, Chanel, Chrysler, Coca-Cola, Disney, Dodge, Fox News Channel, Ford Motor Company, HBO, Jeep, McDonald’s, The NFL Players Association, Northwest Airlines, Paramount Pictures, PepsiCo, RCA Records, Red Bull, Reebok, Revlon, SyFy Channel, Sony and USA Network, among many others.
Under Pete’s leadership, New Media Strategies was named by Inc. Magazine as one of the “500 Fastest Growing Companies in America” for three years in a row. Pete also built an award-winning corporate culture, as both Washingtonian Magazine and Washington Business Journal named New Media Strategies one of the area’s “Best Places to Work.” Snyder was honored by Fortune Small Business for his innovative management style when they named him one of the “Best Bosses in America.” Additionally, Pete has been named a “Tech Titan” by Washingtonian Magazine, was featured on the “Power List” by Capitol File and was named a “Disruptor We Admire” by Smart CEO Magazine.
The COVID-19 crisis has and continues to put millions of small business jobs at risk impacting millions of families across the Commonwealth of Virginia and the country. In 2020, Pete Snyder, and his wife Burson, launched the nonprofit VA 30 Day Fund to help save as many Virginia jobs as possible. With nearly 3 million dollars raised and more than 400 small businesses funded, the VA 30 Day Fund continues to have a positive impact on local economies and small businesses.
A graduate of The College of William and Mary, Snyder served on its Board of Visitors. He has also served in leadership roles on the Marketing Board of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the Board of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and the Board of Trustees of Cushing Academy.
Pete is active in politics in Virginia, where he has served in various leadership roles in the Republican Party over the years and ran for Lt. Governor of the Commonwealth in 2013. Additionally, Pete is a World Championship certified barbeque judge, an accreditation that was even fact-checked and declared “100% true” by The Washington Post.
Pete, his wife Burson, and their daughter Bee reside in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Greg Stivers
Chief Strategy Officer
Profit Optics, Inc.
+ Bio
Our Chief Strategy Officer, Greg, is always out in our business and local communities trying to help.
With 25 years of leadership as an IT executive for companies ranging in scope from Fortune 5 to start-ups, Greg has led every size and type of team to great success. Simultaneously developing innovative technologies and high performing teams, he brings this expertise to every client engagement, meeting people where they are and helping them build an IT strategy that will truly help them evolve into the future. At ProfitOptics, Greg is constantly assessing our technology and portfolio to expand our skill set and reach as an organization; he excels in developing strategic partnerships and building our team so we can do even more to support our growing client base. A graduate of the University of Texas, Austin with a BBA in Management Information Systems, Greg is a diehard Cowboys fan and active with several nonprofits in the Richmond area.
When Greg isn’t in the office inspiring the team, he is probably helping someone with their car, listening to fascinating audio books, or spending time with his wonderful family.
Eric Terry
President, Virginia Restaurant, Lodging, and Travel Association
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A graduate of the Hospitality and Tourism Management School at Virginia Tech, Eric has a long and deep understanding of the hospitality and tourism industries.  As President of VRLTA, Eric Terry leads a membership of over 1,500 from across the Commonwealth in efforts before the General Assembly and with industry events.
Eric Terry joined VRLTA from Redstone Companies Hospitality and has over three decades of experience and business success within the entertainment, hotel, casino resort, and events industries. Prior to joining Redstone, Eric was Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Benchmark Hospitality and the President of Xelerate Group, a company he launched in 2002. He grew the Xelerate Group into an organization with a recognized specialty in national events marketing, sponsorship partnering, media buying, and celebrity appearances including partnerships with NASCAR, Chuck Norris, The Food Network, and Indy Racing League. Prior to that, he was Vice President of Sales & Marketing for Malibu Entertainment Worldwide, Inc. and also served as Corporate Marketing Director and Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Hollywood Casino Corporation/Pratt Hotel Corporation.  Eric has held leadership positions with Bristol Hotels, Marriott Hotels and Resorts, and for Anheuser Busch’s Busch Gardens.
He is an active member of Meeting Professionals International and the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International and is a former president and vice president of the Crowne Plaza Marketing Association.
Scott Andrews-Weckerly
Community Engagement Specialist, Community Foundation
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In his role at Community Foundation for a greater Richmond, Scott is responsible for executing the organization’s learning and professional development portfolio, including the Emerging Nonprofit Leaders Program and ConnectVA’s learning platform.
After engineering a shift from a completely in-person learning agenda to a totally online one, Scott empathizes with the challenges nonprofits face innovating their service delivery while staying mission-driven.
A native Californian, Scott earned an MSW with highest honors from USC’s Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. He maintains an active Virginia social work license, and before joining Community Foundation, he spent nearly a decade as a housing social worker in New York City and Richmond.
Todd Waldo
Todd Waldo
Founder & Principal Consultant
Hugh Helen LLC
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Todd B. Waldo works closely with executive teams to understand current and future needs to develop and champion an enterprise-wide strategy and technology solutions. Todd invests in others as a mentor and adviser to increase diversity, inclusion, mission awareness and engagement. In addition, he provides operational consulting and governance leadership in philanthropic, nonprofit and government sectors.
All of this carries over in his service and advocacy in the Richmond community with his work for various organizations. With a passion for social justice, Todd serves on the Board of Directors for Better Housing Coalition, the President of the Board of the Robinson Theater Community Arts Center, Board Chair for Afrikana Independent Film Festival as well as the Richmond Symphony Community Council. He also serves on the VCU School of Engineering Industrial Advisory Board.
Golder O’Neill
Associate Professor
Shenandoah University
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Golder O’Neill has been an educator for over thirty years and is an Associate Professor at Shenandoah Conservatory of Shenandoah University. He holds a B.M. from Berklee College of Music in Audio Recording and a M.M.E. from Shenandoah University.
He has taught numerous audio classes and is the director of the Music Production Recording Technology Program at Shenandoah Conservatory. In addition to teaching at Shenandoah, his teaching experience includes the National Jazz workshop (audio classes, jazz electric bass), CCM Vocal Pedagogy Institute (audio classes), Shepherd College, Contemporary Music center, Sound Labs/Columbia School of Broadcasting, and PAVAN (Performing and Visual Arts Northwest). He has been a presenter at the Jazz Education Network Convention (2019) “Critical Listening: A Blended Pedagogical Approach for 21st Century Jazz Performers and Engineers Using Music Production Techniques and Traditional Analysis”
He has performed in numerous venues in the Washington D.C. metro area including Kennedy Center and Blues Alley. In addition, he has performed at the Blue Note Jazz Club in New York City. O’Neill has performed internationally in the Philippines, Sweden, Japan, China and Ireland. Most recently he has toured as chief recording engineer with the Shenandoah Symphony Orchestra to Spain and Argentina. O’Neill has performed with guest artists at Shenandoah University including Randy Brecker, Bob Berg, Carl Burnett, Rebecca Parris, Chris Vadala and Zoro the drummer.
O’Neill is a member of the Audio Engineering Society (AES), Jazz Education Network (JEN), and former member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (Grammys). He has over thirty years of professional recording experience including the owner, manager, of Goldreel Studios in Winchester Virginia, and chief engineer and operations manager of Shenandoah Conservatory’s Ruebush Hall Recording Studio.

 

“I love being creative in any setting—playing music, recording studio, classroom, sports, community service—it brings joy to my heart. We are soul!”
Carlos Chafin
President
In Your Ear Studios
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Carlos Chafin is a composer, audio engineer, Owner and President of In Your Ear Studios and Associate Professor and co-director of the AMPT program at VCUarts.
Born in Virginia with higher education at VCU, he founded and runs In Your Ear in Richmond’s Historic Shockoe Bottom. His credits include everything from musical scores for Superbowl commercials to writing musicals. Currently, he scores The Good Road tv series on PBS stations, produces the podcast “Philanthropology” on Apple Podcast, and is producing a streaming concert series featuring the Richmond Music scene called Shockoe Sessions Live on Facebook.
Lucas Fritz
Lucas Fritz
Owner, The Broadberry &
The Camel
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Lucas Fritz, a Richmond native and graduate of VCU’s Jazz Studies Program, is the owner of two Richmond music venues, The Broadberry and The Camel. He is also the owner and Talent buyer for Broadberry entertainment group – a booking and Promotions company that presents music at multiple venues in Richmond as well as in  Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Ashland, Harrisonburg, Washington DC and West Virginia.
Garret Westlake
Dr. Garret Westlake
Executive Director
VCU da Vinci Center for Innovation
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Dr. Garret Westlake is leading the transformation of VCU into one of the nation’s leading universities for cross-disciplinary collaboration and innovation. As executive director of the da Vinci Center for Innovation, Dr. Westlake advances university-wide student innovation and entrepreneurship through curriculum as well as through curated experiential education opportunities.
As a technology entrepreneur, Dr. Westlake founded a social impact company that employed individuals with autism in STEM. Prior to joining VCU, Dr. Westlake served as the associate dean of student entrepreneurship for Arizona State University’s #1 ranked Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation. He has worked closely with Ashoka U, the Clinton Global Initiative University, and for the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship. Students and startups he has mentored have been named to Forbes 30 Under 30 for Healthcare Innovation, awarded Rhodes Scholarships, named Resolution Project Fellows, and have been accepted to SXSW and Y Combinator.
Ben Baldwin
Ben Baldwin
Owner & CEO
Spacebomb Group
+ Bio
Ben has worked in the music industry for 14 years. In 2008 in London, UK, he founded Dreamboat Management, which has a roster of artist management clients from across the US and Europe. He became a co-owner of Spacebomb Records in 2013 and in 2017 he folded the management company into Spacebomb to form Spacebomb Group. Spacebomb Group is a group of complimentary music companies covering a record label, publishing, production and management, which he now heads up from Spacebomb’s office in Richmond Virginia.
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Event Schedule

Live Online Event Day – This Friday, June 26th
Tickets are $10 & Benefit the Virginia 30 Day Fund

SparkJam 2020 Logo
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Landon Elliott

Landon Elliott
Photo Credit: Joey Wharton
+ Bio
Landon Elliott is an old spirit, and it shows in his voice. His tunes tell stories about a way of life and what happens when you break away from it, and his singing hits you in the gut. If he makes you reconsider your own world-view, he’ll be happy: the reason he makes music is to let people know he’s in their corner. Elliott is a singer-songwriter and guitarist who grew up in one of America’s most beautiful but culturally conservative places and was urged to pursue a religious path. His move to Richmond, VA, led to a re-examining of his faith. He poured his uncertainty into music and began writing songs to reckon with himself, his relationships, and “the weird upheaval” that’s divided America in the last few years. “There’s a dialogue in our world right now, a progression,” he concludes. “It’s about whether you’re going to create a wall or a door.” Needless to say, he’s opting for a door.

Saw Black

Justin "Saw" Black
Photo Credit: Joey Wharton
+ Bio
Saw Black is an American Band led by singer/songwriter Justin Black. Saw Black strives to authentically represent themselves as well as the place they live in through song. SB is based in Richmond, Virginia, and finds inspiration from days spent on the James River and the comradery of creative friends. Stephen Keuster will be joining on pedal steel this Friday 6/26/20 at In Your Ear.
SparkJam Sessions
Live at 4 PM
Featuring singer-songwriter Landon Elliott
and singer-songwriter Saw Black.
All music streamed live from Studio A at In Your Ear Studios, Richmond, VA

Music made possible by:

Morning Session

8:00 AM Opening & Networking
Grab some morning fuel and join us for a half-hour of open networking.
8:30 AM Live Event Launch: The importance of innovating to create new opportunities
Each of our “Made Possible By” partners brings a unique perspective to innovation. We’re starting SparkJam with some opening remarks by each as we get set to launch the day.
Opening Remarks By:
  • Todd Feldman, Founder & President, The Rocket Factory
  • Aaron Dotson, Co-Founder & Executive Creative Director, Elevation Advertising
  • Greg Stivers, Chief Strategy Officer, Profit Optics
  • Dr. Garret Westlake, Executive Director VCU da Vinci Center for Innovation
  • Chandra Briggman, President & CEO, Activation Capital
9:00 AM Keynote: Transforming Business Through Challenging Times

Rob Roy shares insights with SparkJam 2020 as he explains how he’s injected digital transformation at some of the world’s largest companies. The focus for his discussion and Q&A is how he’s innovated within his roles and will offer perspective that every business can apply to their day-to-day.

  • Moderated by: Todd Feldman, Founder & President; The Rocket Factory
  • Speaker: Rob Roy, SVP/Head of Digital, Emerging Markets; T-Mobile USA
10:00 AM Keynote: SparkJam Innovation Challenge

With active participation from the SparkJam audience, we kick-off with Pete Snyder of the VA 30 Day Fund. Then hear from university student entrepreneurs from around the Commonwealth making the pivot during this unprecedented time.

  • Moderated by: Dr. Garret Westlake
  • With Pete Snyder, Virginia 30 Day Fund
  • Nancy Grden: Old Dominion University
    • Blade Taylor: CEO of 3DXtremes
  • Sally Sledge: Norfolk State University
  • Graham Henshaw: William and Mary
    • Cara Simpson: CrimeDell SBN
    • Vicki Harrington: CrimeDell SBN
    • Jack Spencer: CrimeDell SBN
11:00 AM Pivoting for the Future: Overcoming Obstacles

Hear directly from Virginia’s small business leaders about the challenges they faced in the wake of the pandemic and resulting economic crisis. They’ll share their insights and knowledge of how they pivoted and made adjustments they’ve made to remain nimble for the future.

  • Moderated by Todd Waldo, Founder & Principal Consultant, Hugh Helen LLC
  • Mike Ledesma, Executive Chef, Perch
  • Maria Puletti, Owner, Portofino Restaurant
11:30 AM Meeting the Challenge: Tomorrow’s Companies with Today’s Solutions
The Virginia start-up ecosystem is rich with talented founders with a dream of building better solutions for businesses to serve their customers better. Listen to their stories and ask questions about steps they are taking to make a difference.
Now more than ever it’s critical for companies to pivot their business based on emerging technology trends that have impacted virtually every business out there since the onset of COVID-19. During this session, Erin Powell (former Founder of Ginger Juice and current Executive Director of Lighthouse Labs), Sofiat Abdulrazaaq Co-Founder with Goodfynd, and Founder Karlie Vogt of Kultivate will talk about the importance of your online presence and answer questions from the group. The session will be a Q&A Format to best engage the group.
  • Moderated by: Erin Powell, Executive Director, Lighthouse Labs
  • Sofiat Abdulrazaaq, Co-Founder, Goodfynd
  • Karlie Vogt, Founder, Kultivate

Afternoon Session

12:00 PM Grab lunch an join us for a diverse lineup of live music from around the Richmond music scene.
  • Classical Revolution RVA (Chamber Music)
  • Serenata (Latin)
  • Andrew Alli (Blues)
  • Black Liquid (Hip Hop)
  • Church Hill Music Co. (Bluegrass)
12:45 PM Pivoting through Performance: How the live arts community is adjusting to re-opening and beyond.
Featuring a panel of distinguished professionals from different areas of the music industry discusses the challenges of performing live and discusses strategies as the commonwealth prepares for re-opening
  • Andy McGraw – Moderator, University of Richmond/Rumput
  • Reggie Pace, No BS Brass /Hustle Season Podcast/Bon Iver
  • Ben Baldwin, Spacebomb Group
  • Anthony Smith, Virginia Repertory Theater
  • Lucas Fritz, The Broadberry
  • Carlos Chafin, In Your Ear Studios
  • Andrew McEvoy, Classical Revolution RVA
  • Golder O’Neill, Shenandoah University
Live from Studio A at In Your Ear Studios in Richmond, VA.
1:30 PM Delivering Innovation for Mission-Driven, Non-Profit Organizations
The COVID-19 pandemic has deepened the resolve and fortitude of our non-profit community. They are innovating around meeting their mission in new and oftentimes groundbreaking ways. Come interact with leaders and learn what they’re doing to rise up to meet the changing economy.
  • Moderated by: Scott Andrews-Wecklerly, Community Engagement Specialist, Community Foundation
  • Floyd Miller, President & CEO, Metropolitan Business League
  • Kelly King Horne, Executive Director, Homeward
  • Angela Patton, CEO, Girls for a Change
2:00 PM Relaunching Virginia Tourism & Hospitality
The tourism and hospitality industries have been completely changed as the world continues to face unprecedented challenges with COVID-19. Hotels, restaurants, and destinations have had to ask themselves, “When it’s irresponsible to ask people to travel and dine out, what do we do now?”
Tourism is resilient and people will travel again but the landscape has shifted. In this session, you will hear from leaders in the tourism industry address how they have shifted their strategies to stay relevant during these changing times.
  • Katherine O’Donnell, Executive Vice President, Richmond Region Tourism
  • Eric Terry, President, Virginia Restaurant, Lodging, and Travel Association
  • Lindsey Norment, Brand Director, Virginia Tourism Corporation
3:00 PM The Bounce – From Surviving to Thriving in Chaotic Times
Most small businesses and startups have reacted to these “once-in-a-lifetime” challenges that have impacted our society and our businesses over the past few months.  This is good enough for them to survive for the moment, but it won’t work for getting the businesses to a point of thriving for the long-term.  We review some of the key principles that can help a small business and startups put in place sustainable business practices for them to regain control of their business with clarity, consistency, and confidence.
  • Moderated by: Art Espey, Founder, The Misfit Champion Sustainable Business Series
  • Laura Bowser, Co-Author, Making Your Business Thrive in a Recession
  • Eric Glymph, Founder of EDGe Business Planning
4:00 PM ‘SparkJam Session’ live from Studio A at In Your Ear Studios in Richmond, VA
  • Featuring singer-songwriter Landon Elliott and singer-songwriter Saw Black.
    All music streamed live from Studio A at In Your Ear Studios, Richmond, VA
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