October 22, 2019 News & Features » Cover Story

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The 2019 Top 40 Under 40 

Young and dynamic, these are the people building a new Richmond before our eyes.

click to enlarge On the cover: Alfonso Perez Acosta, 39, Art Program Director, Sacred Heart Center.

Scott Elmquist

On the cover: Alfonso Perez Acosta, 39, Art Program Director, Sacred Heart Center.

Welcome to the Top 40 Under 40 issue — one of our favorites every year.

The reason is simple: This is a celebration of community members who are helping to make Richmond a better place. It’s a love fest, basically.

We need these kinds of issues as reminders. Especially today, when a large percentage of the public has become addicted (by design) to the relentless, 24-hour barrage of mostly horrible news stories, knee-jerk reactions and self-validating ideological silos that fill every social media platform. Constant arguing, judging and a general climate of fear and despair tend to dominate these so-called public spaces in America today.

One nation, deeply divided.

But as writers who work on this issue have remarked, it’s refreshing and inspiring to interview everyday folks who are simply living their lives in accordance with their beliefs and principles, who actually are doing something to help make things better.

We’re always impressed by just how much these people manage to do, all before the age of 40. So here’s to you, class of 2019, nominated mostly by your peers and co-workers who see your work on a daily basis. Keep on rocking it.

Santia Nance, 31
Supervisor, Cultural Impact Lab Digital Engagement

Justin Griffin, 30
Small Business Lawyer
Founder, NoColiseum.com

Demas Boudreaux, 39
Government Relations Manager at Virginia Housing Development Authority

Axana Soltan, 23
Law Student at University of District of Columbia School of Law

Erin White, 34
Virginia Commonwealth University Libraries Head of Digital Engagement

Jenny Connors, 36
Partner at Williams Mullen

Aurora “Austyn” Higgs, 29
Social Activist and Program Manager at VCU

Trey Pollard, 36
Arranger, Composer, Co-Owner Spacebomb Group

Christopher Pearson, 35
Senior Vice President, Davenport & Co.

Lea Whitehurst-Gibson, 36
Executive Director, Virginia Community Voice

Billy McMullen, 39
Motivational Speaker and Consultant, Billy Mac Foundation

Justin Doyle, 34
Community Conservation Manager with James River Association

Betsy Hart, 36, and Me’Kel Williams, 31
Founding Executive Director and Assistant Director
Robinson Theater Community Arts Center

Tom Barbour, 34
Co-Founder and Executive Director
Virginia Holistic Justice Initiative

Felicia Bowman, 29
Medical Social Worker, Health Brigade

Tommy Bettin, 31
Owner, Fred Astaire Dance Studio Richmond

Alex Guzman, 31
Director of Fair Housing at HOME of Virginia

Yanet Limon-Amado, 24
Co-Founder of UndocuRams, DACA recipient

Caroline Neal, 36
Founder and Executive Director of Worthdays

James Harris, 33
Owner and Founder, Men to Heal and the Healing Hub

Lakeshia Allen, 35
Resident Services Coordinator at Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority

Rachel Pater, 36
Founder and Executive Director of Richmond Story House

Gretchen Ross, 35
Reporter and Anchor, Nexstar Media Group

Eric Steigleder, 31
Marketing Director at the Valentine

Janae Craddock, 37
Courthouse Housing Law Attorney at the Central Virginia Legal Aid Society

Stephen Cobb, 37
Counsel, Troutman Sanders LLP

Sheba Williams, 39
Executive Director, Nolef Turns Inc.

Morgan Rhudy, 18
Founder of Girl Power Grants

Julia Warren, 23
Founder of Celebrate RVA

Brantley Tyndall, 32
Director of Outreach, Bike Walk RVA

Matthew Morgan, 29
Deputy Director of Neighborhood Revitalization at Project: Homes

Avohom Carpenter, 32
Director of Civic Engagement, Virginia League of Conservation Voters

Corrina Beall, 32
Legislative and Political Director, Sierra Club Virginia Chapter

Kristie Helmick Proctor, 37
Executive Director of the Center for Rural Virginia

Carolyn Loftin, 36
Director of Housing and Family Services, Urban Hope

Jeremy Hoffman, 30
Chief Scientist, Science Museum of Virginia

Ryan Brown, 39
Executive Director of Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries

Alfonso Perez Acosta, 39
Art Program Director, Sacred Heart Center

Catherine MacDonald, 31
Director of Greater Richmond Age Wave

Allison Gilbreath, 30
Policy Analyst, Voices for Virginia’s Children

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