Office of Alumni Relations

The latest news from Virginia Commonwealth University

The VCU Alumni Richmond Chapter offers a series of virtual panels to discuss topics ranging from social justice to financial wellness to women empowerment. Learn more and register below.

Financial wellness webinars

Charitable Planning
Noon- 1 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 10

For individuals who are charitably inclined, there are several strategies that will also help reduce their tax liability and impact their community. Learn about donor funds, corporate matching gifts, donating highly appreciated stock and qualified charitable distributions. Join the VCU Alumni Richmond Chapter and special guests Mark Newfield (B.S.’87/B) and Shannon Duvall as we discuss charitable planning. 

Register for the Zoom link.

About the speakers

Mark Newfield (B.S.’87/B): Newfield has spent many years providing IT consulting services to Fortune 500 organizations. He made a career change to become an adviser because of his passion for helping people. He and his wife, Natalie, are dedicated VCU basketball fans. He serves on the VCU athletic director’s advisory board and is a trustee of the VCU School of Business Foundation.

Shannon Duvall: Shannon Duvall joined the VCU School of Business as the chief development officer in 2016. She leads the School of Business team responsible for fundraising and alumni engagement, including the capital campaign, planned gifts, major gifts, annual giving, stewardship, alumni relations and strategic planning. Duvall previously served as vice president of advancement and executive director of the Foundation at New College, associate vice president for development and alumni engagement at Albion College and several roles at Michigan State University including midwest regional gift planning adviser where she became a member of NCPG, now the National Association of Charitable Gift Planners. Duvall earned her undergraduate degree in clinical psychology and business administration from Queens University of Charlotte, an M.S.W. from Michigan State University and completed doctoral coursework in higher ed administration at MSU.

Women’s power lunch series

DaNika Neblett Robinson, Ed.D., and Dale C. Kalkofen, Ed.D. 
Noon- 1 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 9

The VCU Alumni Richmond Chapter hosts lunch with DaNika Neblett Robinson, Ed.D. (B.A.’11/H&S; Cert.’14/GPA; M.P.A.’15/GPA; Ed.D.’18/E), and Dale C. Kalkofen, Ed.D. (M.A.E.’76/A), for the final Women’s Power Lunch event of the year. Javaid Siddiqi, Ph.D. (Ph.D.’00/Ed), moderates.

Register for the Zoom link.

About the speakers

Dale C. Kalkofen, Ed.D. (M.A.E.’76/A): For over four decades, Kalkofen worked in major urban school districts, including Richmond, Boston, Memphis and Chesterfield as a teacher, principal and executive leader. She was a transformative leader who excelled in restructuring operating systems to better serve students, teachers, parents and principals; reallocating resources to meet the greatest needs; and building relationships in the communities she served. She has proven that high educational achievement is possible for all students.

DaNika Neblett Robinson, Ed.D. (B.A.’11/H&S; Cert.’14/GPA; M.P.A.’15/GPA; Ed.D.’18/E): She has over 25 years of finance and administration experience, predominantly in higher education. She currently serves as the chief financial and administrative officer/director of diversity and inclusion at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science/William & Mary. She holds a Doctor of Education with a concentration in leadership, a Master of Public Administration with a concentration in nonprofit management, a bachelor’s degree in religious studies, a bachelor’s degree in business administration and an associate’s degree in business administration. Over 10 years ago, she established Wailing Women Ministries, a nonprofit that distributes book scholarships to female high school seniors who plan to major in STEM-related fields. In 2018, she self-published her first novella, “The Metamorphic Journey,” which serves as a resource for women experiencing crisis pregnancies or just need encouragement on how to overcome obstacles. Her passion for student, staff and faculty development has allowed her to strategically create programs and initiatives that benefit individuals throughout their academic and professional careers. In 2019, she served as the VCU School of World Studies’ May 2019 graduation ceremony speaker and was named a VCU Alumni Star.

About the moderator

Javaid Siddiqi, Ph.D. (Ph.D.’00/E): Siddiqi is the president and CEO of The Hunt Institute. During his tenure the institute has more than tripled its staff and has expanded its scope of work beyond K-12 to include the entire education continuum from early childhood to postsecondary and the workforce. He works with the leadership team to guide the strategic plan for the institute and develops its relationships with partners and funders across the nation. He works with senior-level elected officials across the political aisle to help design strategy, shape policy and drive educational improvements on the national and state levels. Prior to serving as president and CEO, he was director of the Hunt-Kean Leadership Fellows.

10 Under 10 alumni panel discussion

Millennial Scientists
Noon- 1 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 16

The VCU Office of Alumni Relations’ annual 10 Under 10 awards program recognizes noteworthy and distinctive achievements made by alumni who earned their first VCU degree (undergraduate, graduate or professional) within the past 10 years.

The VCU Alumni Richmond Chapter hosts two 10 Under 10 honorees to discuss their journeys to success after graduating and where they are now in their careers. Hear 2019 winner Elliot Roth (B.S.’15/En; Cert.’15/DVC) and 2017 winner Isaac Rodriguez, Ph.D. (M.S.’10/En; Ph.D.’13/En), discuss their unique careers in science. 

Register for the Zoom link.

About the speakers

Elliot Roth (B.S.’15/En; Cert.’15/DVC): Roth the founder of Spira, a company that replaces petroleum and animal compounds in the supply chain using algae. Spira has received awards from RebelBio, Lighthouse Labs, the World Food Programme, Halcyon Incubator, BeGreen, CommBeBiz and the National Science Foundation. He has presented at SXSW, Synbiobeta and Thought for Food. He is a Kairos Fellow, a Seasteading Ambassador and a Future Founders Fellow. Before Spira, he obtained a degree in biomedical engineering, trained at the Stanford d.School, studied synthetic biology for 12 years and worked for five years as a product consultant. He previously founded six failed startups and two successful nonprofits, including a community science laboratory, and raised over $1 million for various startups. He is motivated to solve physiological needs using simple biological design. In his spare time he plays music, builds hydrogen airships and is working on a side project to enable access to health care on the open ocean.

Isaac Rodriguez, Ph.D. (M.S.’10/En; Ph.D.’13/En): He is the co-founder and chief science officer of SweetBio Inc., a Memphis, Tennessee based, commercial-ready medical device company with FDA-cleared, honey-incorporated wound care products. Since 2015, SweetBio has raised $4 million, graduated from ZeroTo510 and LaunchTN accelerator programs, was a finalist in Steve Case’s 2018 Rise of the Rest tour and recognized by Inside Memphis Business as a 2016 Innovation Award winner and by the American Cancer Society North Central Region as their 2019 Innovators of Hope. SweetBio was also highlighted on 60 Minutes and Forbes. Some of Rodriguez’s notable achievements include serving as the keynote speaker for NASA Langley’s 2017 Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration, an invited speaker in 2018 for The Empowerment Conference, being cited over 900 times in academic journals, being named as one of Memphis’ Top 40 Under 40 in 2015 by The Memphis Business Journal, and being honored in 2017 by VCU as a 10 Under 10 alumni. He serves as a board member of the Virginia Latino Higher Education Network, Seeding Success, New Memphis Institute, Setting the Standard Enterprises, the Collegiate School of Memphis, and formerly Shelby County Mayor Luttrell’s Young Professional Council and Mayor Strickland’s Transition team.  

About the moderator

Andy Hobson (B.S.’12/En): Hobson is a 2012 graduate of the VCU College of Engineering. He is a sales engineer for TLA Inc. in the HVAC industry. He is a past president of the VCU College of Engineering Alumni Board and is the engagement committee chair for the VCU Alumni board of governors. He is also an active member and board member of the local Richmond ASHRAE chapter (American Society of Heating Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers).

Past webinars

Investing in an Election Year

2020 has been a year of many major events, including an upcoming presidential election. Regardless of your political views, for investors, the most important part might be how the markets react. Historically, markets sometimes have experienced increased volatility leading up to an election and it leaves many investors wondering, “What’s going to happen to the stock market if this candidate wins?” In this Sept. 24 webinar, John T. Cinella, associate managing director in the Broker/Dealer Division of MFS Fund Distributors Inc., provided an historical perspective on what the markets have done following elections and how politics can affect personal investments.

Women’s Power Lunch: Amanda Seibert and Faith Wilkerson, Ed.D.

A virtual lunch session Oct. 5 featured Amanda Seibert (B.S.’12/H&S), founder/CEO of Nest Builders Development Co., and Faith Wilkerson, Ed.D. (B.S.’03/MC; M.Ed.’05/E; Ed.D.’15/E), founder of UnlockingRVA. Statia Gibson (B.S.’12/B), senior client relationship consultant with CoStar Group, moderated.

10 Under 10 alumni panel discussion: Marketing and Social Media

The VCU Office of Alumni Relations’ annual 10 Under 10 awards program recognizes noteworthy and distinctive achievements made by alumni who earned their first VCU degree (undergraduate, graduate or professional) within the past 10 years. On Oct. 21, the VCU Alumni Richmond Chapter hosted a virtual panel with 2017 recipient Christina Dick (B.S.’10/MC) and 2019 recipient Whitney Headen (B.S.’09/B) who discusses their work in marketing and social media with moderator Khanh Burks (B.S.’13/B). 

Becoming a Homeowner

Special guests Dave Seibert, founder of the Dave Seibert Real Estate Group, and Kimberly Fish Andres, one of the top 1% loan officers in America, discuss financial wellness and becoming a homeowner in today’s economic conditions in this Oct. 22 webinar. The session covered everything from how to weigh the pros and cons of home ownership to how much house you can really afford, down payment options, credit reports and the mortgage lending process.

Understanding Open Enrollment at Your Workplace

Joseph Stemmle (B.S.’13/B), CFP, a financial planner with Ameriprise Financial, provided a look at what workplace benefits to evaluate during an open enrollment period in this Nov. 2 webinar.  

End-of-year Tax Planning

The end of the year provides a number of planning opportunities and issues to reduce taxes. Year-end topics can include tax planning, investment and retirement accounts, charitable giving, cash flow and savings, insurance and estate planning. The VCU Alumni Richmond Chapter and VCU Alumni Accounting Alumni Association hosted a webinar Nov. 12 with special guests Yann Reichelt (B.S.’14/B) and Mike Gracik to discuss financial planning through tax preparation at the end of the year. The event was moderated by Jon Hill (B.S.’85/B; M.B.A.’99/B; M.S.’12/B).

Categories Alumni