Leslie Parpart, 35 

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Program Manager, Virginia Leaders in Export Trade
Virginia Economic Development Partnership

Leslie Parpart wades across the broad oceans of international trade agreements as if she's hopping puddles. As the program manager for Virginia Leaders in Export Trade, run by the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, her job is to help Virginia-grown businesses go international.

It sounds global in scope, but at the end of the day, she says, the work isn't too many steps away from the Atlanta-area middle school classroom where she began her professional career. "It's just facilitating," Parpart says. "It's about finding the right resources and connecting them with the people who need them."

If only the public schools could boast similar success: The two-year program's graduating class of 2007, made up of 30 Virginia companies of varying sizes and shapes, saw an overall increase in their international sales of more than 35 percent.

Parpart left education to earn her law degree before returning to her native Richmond. And now she's giving back as an unusually youthful member of the board of directors of Greater Richmond SCAN (Stop Child Abuse Now). Responding to the group's concern that it wasn't engaging new blood in its cause, Parpart leveraged her youthful vigor to help create SCAN's board of young professionals.

Her involvement with SCAN also lets her get back to her middle school teacher roots.

"As a classroom teacher," she says, "I know that having a stable family environment and having food on the table helps remove obstacles to learning."

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