Power Issue: This year’s list of powerful people and companies looks a little different

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Zyahna Bryant. Photo by Eze Amos Zyahna Bryant. Photo by Eze Amos

What a difference a year makes. Charlottesville underwent a seismic shift shortly after we published last summer’s list of local power brokers, which is always an exercise in subjectivity anyway. Some of them have undergone dramatic reversals, new faces have appeared—and yet, much stays the same. But who wants to read about Coran Capshaw and UVA every year? To change it up, we divided this year’s list into four categories that most impact our day-to-day lives: business and development, culture, government and activism after August 12.


AUGUST 12 ACTIVISM

Photo by Andrew Shurtleff.

Risa Goluboff

UVA’s first female dean of its School of Law already was a legal rock star before President Teresa Sullivan asked her to head the Deans Working Group after a bunch of torch-carrying neo-Nazis and white supremacists marched through Virginia’s flagship university August 11. Goluboff led the mission to assess the university’s response to hate’s romp through Grounds and to maintain academic freedom, inclusion and tolerance—while keeping a safe space for a rattled community.

And in her own law school, Goluboff had to deal with unwelcome visitor Jason Kessler, an arrested Kessler protester and closing the library to outsiders during the end-of-school exam period. C-VILLE put her in the activism category, but in reality, Goluboff is just doing her job.

Photo by Eze Amos.

Jalane Schmidt

The UVA associate professor’s religious studies background gives her the tenure and balance to call out Charlottesville’s self-satisfied image of itself as a liberal, world-class city. Charlottesville has lots of activists, but unlike many, Schmidt brings knowledge and research to her efforts.

A regular at City Council, the Black Lives Matter organizer proposed that March 3—the day the Union Army arrived—should be recognized as Liberation Day in acknowledgment that 52 percent of the population here was enslaved at the time of the Civil War. She’s pushed council to recontextualize the controversial Confederate monuments and challenge the Lost Cause narrative. She brought the Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society’s Ku Klux Klan robes out of the closet. And along with Andrea Douglas, she’s organized a pilgrimage to the Equal Justice Initiative’s lynching memorial in Montgomery, Alabama, so that ignorance of the past will no longer be an excuse.

Photo by Eze Amos

Zyahna Bryant

We can think of few local teens who’ve evoked so much change over the past couple of years—and she’s still got her senior year at Charlottesville High to go. Bryant is the young woman who questioned the city’s honoring of Confederate generals who fought to keep her ancestors enslaved, and started a petition for the removal of the Confederate statues in March 2016—when she was a 15-year-old freshman.

She’s been interviewed by Katie Couric, Vice, and she occasionally turns up on CNN. Did we mention she’s still in high school?

Jeff Fogel

Charlottesville’s civil rights legal gadfly has no problem filing a lawsuit when he sees injustice. He’s sued Charlottesville police to release stop-and-frisk narratives (he lost), an Albemarle cop who’s stopped an inordinate number of black motorists (on appeal) and has represented activists Veronica Fitzhugh in her confrontations with Jason Kessler, Morgan Hopkins for pulling off her shirt August 12 and Mayor Nikuyah Walker for a speeding ticket appeal.

Fogel frequently interjects himself into City Council meetings and even the hiring announcement for new city police Chief RaShall Brackney. And if his interactions with city officials aren’t always the most congenial, well, maybe it’s because he’s always suing the city.

Photo by Eze Amos

Rising action

It’s not like there’s ever been a lack of activism here, but since the 2016 election, demonstrations have SURJed, to pardon our pun on Showing Up for Racial Justice. Local activists include antifascists, Black Lives Matter, Indivisible Charlottesville and the Public Housing Association of Residents, to name a few of the many groups that have sprung up. And then there’s the umbrella Cville Solidarity, aka Solidarity Cville. While there’s overlap, the more anarchist elements have disrupted and/or shut down City Council, and when Unite the Right organizer Jason Kessler is spotted, they can mobilize on a dime.


GOVERNMENT

Photo by Eze Amos

Nikuyah Walker

Walker became the city’s first independent councilor since 1948. Running on a platform of “unmasking the illusion,” Walker has broken a number of barriers as the city’s first black female mayor—who also is a city parks & rec employee. She doesn’t think it’s necessary to make nice with her fellow councilors, particularly Mike Signer, whom she frequently denounced when she was on the other side of the dais, or to talk to the press or follow council tradition, such as choosing the mayor behind closed doors. She’s taken to Facebook Live to call out city employees, like now retired Deputy Chief Gary “The Gasman Unpleasants.”

Since Walker has been mayor, there have been fewer shutdowns of council, but she’s had to balance giving voice to her supporters, who tend to disregard Robert’s Rules of Order, and run a public meeting and conduct city business. And she’s found herself on the losing end of 4-1 votes, such as West2nd’s special use permit.

Walker says she’s comfortable making people uncomfortable, and at least for many citizens attending City Council meetings, that’s something she’s accomplished.

Photo by Tristan Williams

Judges Bob Downer and Rick Moore

City court dockets have seemed even busier in the past year, and pretty much every charge stemming from the KKK rally July 8 and Unite the Right rally August 12 has gone through Judge Bob Downer’s Charlottesville General District Court, while every lawsuit filed about statues and every August 12 felony certified by the grand jury ends up in Judge Rick Moore’s Charlottesville Circuit Court.

Downer has presided over general district court since around 2001, and everyone from speeders to murderers appear before him. Assorted activists have shown up outside his courtroom since August 12, but he tolerates no protest inside. And it’s not like the latest batch is his first rodeo. Remember Code Pink? Downer convicts lawbreakers whether they’re white nationalists or anti-racists with a courtroom demeanor that’s both concerned and stern.

Moore is the guy who will decide whether City Council overstepped its authority with its vote to remove Confederate statues, as well as the lawsuits filed to keep violent interlopers from returning to a Unite the Right anniversary. He’s also presided over two jury trials of out-of-state men who were convicted of beating DeAndre Harris. In the courtroom, Moore is genial and thorough, typically pondering his decisions post-hearing rather than ruling from the bench.

Photo by Elli Williams

Delegate David Toscano

Toscano briefly retired as House minority leader in 2015, only to be wooed back within 24 hours by his caucus, in time to see 2017’s blue wave that nearly made him House speaker. Toscano has represented Charlottesville and parts of Albemarle since the venerated Mitch van Yahres did not seek re-election to his 57th District seat in 2005. Most of the time, Toscano has been in a crushing 66-34 minority, but now that the Dems are 49-51, he’s using the title House Democratic leader and 2019 will determine whether he becomes the most powerful man in the House of Delegates.

albemarle.org

Rick Randolph

The Albemarle Board of Supervisors usually is a more staid group than Charlottesville City Council, aside from the occasional sexual batterer like Chris Dumler. Following his election in 2015 as the Scottsville District’s supervisor, Randolph led the charge to study moving the county’s courts from the city to the county, and dared try to leverage the county’s worst deal ever—the 1982 revenue sharing agreement—to keep the courts downtown. For his trouble, Delegate Rob Bell got a bill passed that forbids moving courts without a referendum.


BUSINESS & DEVELOPMENT

Photo by Ashley Twigos

Coran Capshaw

It wouldn’t be the Power Issue without mention of the man who built it all—or at least a whole lot of it. As co-owner of Riverbend Development, Capshaw’s also behind several recently proposed projects, including building the Belmont Apartments and the new Apex Clean Energy headquarters on Garrett Street. He also recently built 5th Street Station, the massive shopping center anchored by Wegmans. A frequenter of Billboard’s Power 100, the founder of Musictoday and Red Light Management moved up two spots this year, from 11th place in 2017 to number nine. Since he made our list last summer, we’ve seen several of his acts in town, including Dave Matthews Band, Chris Stapleton, Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes, Luke Bryan and Odesza, the first three of which performed at the Concert for Charlottesville, a free unity show Capshaw helped organize in the wake of August 12.

Photo by Jackson Smith

Jaffray Woodriff

The man with the plan, Woodriff bought the .99-acre space that used to house the Main Street Arena, Escafé, the Ante Room and Carytown Tobacco, with plans to transform it into a tech incubator—aptly named CODE, aka the Center of Developing Entrepreneurs—for people who are a lot smarter than we are. Woodriff, the co-founder of financial planning firm Quantitative Investment Management and an angel investor, has also doled out dollars for at least 40 local startups over the past decade. He’s scheduled to begin construction on CODE this summer.

Photo by Jackson Smith

Apex Clean Energy

They’re in the business of renewable energy, and business is booming. What started as a company with fewer than 10 employees has grown to employ 220 in nine years, with 170 local staffers currently spread out among three offices in town. The company, headed by CEO and founder Sandy Reisky, has created $4 billion in clean energy opportunities and is now building a new seven-story, 130,000-square-foot headquarters on Garrett Street so its Charlottesville staff can all be under the same roof as they continue to clock hours replacing old, dirty energy practices with new wind and solar ones across the continent. And that office they’re building? It’ll be powered by the sun, of course.

UVA Health System/UVA

At the hospital that saw about 975,000 patients last fiscal year, beds won’t line the halls of the emergency department for much longer. In the biggest facelift the health system has ever undergone, the $400 million, 520,000-square-foot expansion and renovation of the emergency department and operating rooms on West Main Street, among other projects, is underway and scheduled for completion in 2020. Since our last Power Issue, we’ve said hello to President Jim Ryan as incoming president at the university, and we’re looking forward to seeing how he fares after the tumultuous tenure of Teresa Sullivan. If one thing’s for sure, without the university and its hospital, Charlottesville wouldn’t be nearly as smart, healthy, employed or populated.

Photo by Sanjay Suchak

Martin Horn

“We build stuff” is its motto—a modest take on what the $40 million construction company has been up to for nearly 40 years. With President Jack Horn at the helm since 2001, Martin Horn has had a hand in projects pretty much everywhere you look, and the ones we’re most interested in right now include the long-awaited skate park at McIntire Park, the C&O Row brownstones on Water Street that look more at home in a big city and Prime 109, the new steakhouse where the guys who brought us Lampo will be flipping filets in the old Bank of America building a couple doors down from C-VILLE’s Downtown Mall office. Another sweet spot? Horn works closely with the Building Goodness Foundation, a local nonprofit that connects people from the design and construction industries with vulnerable communities.


CULTURE

Photo by Eze Amos

Andrea Douglas

Douglas spends long hours at the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center, where the mission—“to honor and preserve the rich heritage and legacy of the African American community of Charlottesville-Albemarle, Virginia, and to promote a greater appreciation for, and understand of, the contributions of African Americans and peoples of the diaspora locally, nationally and globally”—is never far from her mind. As executive director of the center, she fulfills these goals in many ways: opening the school’s auditorium to high school rap competitions and talks on race in America, reviving the Charlottesville Players Guild black theater troupe, curating gallery shows that feature the work of contemporary African American artists, and much more. And by doing this, Douglas, one of the city’s most socially conscious arts advocates, makes certain the center—and its mission—remain an integral part of the community.

Courtesy of Subject

Jody Kielbasa

There’s more to Kielbasa than being the director of the Virginia Film Festival, although he gets top billing for that for good reason. The festival’s 2017 lineup brought the already prestigious event to new heights with special guests Spike Lee, William H. Macy and Margot Lee Shetterly, plus the ever-relevant film series “Race in America.” Kielbasa is also UVA’s vice provost for the arts, a year-round job that entails planning and fundraising. Not only was he instrumental in bringing Tina Fey and Bryan Cranston to town, he and his staff put together the historic interactive stage celebration that launched UVA’s bicentennial with appearances by Hamilton star Leslie Odom Jr. and R&B powerhouse Andra Day.

Photo by Jackson Smith

Paul Beyer

The Tom Tom Founders Festival gets larger every year, and Beyer, its creator, is the one to thank for it. Since TTFF’s first run in spring 2012, he has cultivated and transformed the event into a twice-a-year occasion, adding the Tomtoberfest music festival in the fall while still assembling an impressive collection of diverse events and keynote speakers in the spring (and the numbers keep climbing: 43,165 people attended this year’s spring event). Beyer has also gained a reputation for taking Tom Tom in unexpected directions—for example, special guest John Cleese of Monty Python fame recently infused his dry wit into a serious panel titled “Is There Life After Death?”—and with a new Art Ecosystem track added for 2019, Beyer doesn’t seem to be slowing down.

Three Notch’d Brewing Company

Charlottesville loves its craft beer, and Three Notch’d Brewing Company is a local favorite. Boasting locations in Harrisonburg, Richmond and, most recently, opening the largest restaurant in the city, this brewing facility hasn’t forgotten its humble Grady Avenue roots (a spot now focused on sour beers) or its original mission statement—to respect the “inalienable rights of man,” presumably referring to humankind’s right to kick back after a long day with a pint of locally crafted beer. And thanks to its new 15,000-square-foot, 30,000-barrel-per-year flagship location at IX Art Park, the Three Notch’d team is giving Charlottesville brew-lovers the perfect place to do it.

Photo by Eze Amos

Kirby Hutto

With Coran Capshaw’s Red Light Management and Starr Hill Presents responsible for so many locally unifying gatherings—from Fridays After Five to A Concert for Charlottesville—it’s natural to wonder who makes the gears turn behind the scenes. Hutto, general manager of the Sprint Pavilion, is a vital member of the RLM/Starr Hill Presents team. Since the Pavilion opened in 2005, he has been involved with nearly every aspect of the venue, from improving the sound quality and updating security to ensuring the happiness of audience members and performers alike. Hutto received the Charlottesville Albemarle Convention & Visitors Bureau’s 2018 Tourism Achievement Award this May, in recognition of his effort to shape the Pavilion into a premier performance space.


PREVIOUS POWER LISTS

2017

  1. Robert E. Lee Statue
  2. City Council
    1. Mike Signer
    2. Wes Bellamy
    3. Kristen Szakos
    4. Kathy Galvin
    5. Bob Fenwick
  3. Coran Capshaw
  4. UVa
  5. Jaffray Woodriff
  6. Keith Woodard
  7. Will Richey
  8. Rosa Atkins/Pam Moran
  9. Local beer
  10. Amy Laufer
  11. Khizr Khan
  12. John Dewberry
  13. Andrea Douglas
  14. Paul Beyer
  15. Easton Porter Group
  16. EPIC
  17. Neal Kassell
  18. Jody Kielbasa

2016

  1. VDOT
  2. Alan Taylor
  3. Richard Shannon
  4. Mark Brown
  5. Wes Bellamy
  6. Keith Woodard
  7. Rob Bell
  8. Red Light Management/Starr Hill Presents
  9. John Dewberry
  10. Craig Littlepage
  11. Mike Signer
  12. Dave Frey
  13. Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company
  14. Jody Kielbasa
  15. Paul Beyer
  16. Will Richey
  17. Jennifer Hoyt Tidwell
  18. Adam Frazier, Matthew Hart, and Melissa Close-Hart
  19. Easton Porter Group
  20. Lyn Bolen Warren

2015

  1. Mark Brown
  2. Phil Dulaney
  3. Teresa Sullivan
  4. Coran Capshaw
  5. Ketti Davison
  6. Maurice Jones
  7. Woodriff, Weschler, Bills, et al.
  8. Keith Woodard
  9. Denise Lunsford and Richard Brewer
  10. Jeff Fogel
  11. Susan Payne
  12. Cheryl Higgins
  13. Larry Kochard
  14. Dave Frey
  15. David Martel
  16. Liza Borches
  17. Paul Beyer
  18. Lynn Easton and Dean Andrews
  19. Eric Trump
  20. Loring Woodriff

2014 

Corbin Hargraves
Jason Vandever
Christine Mahoney
Margeret Gould
Stephen Davis
Matt Joslyn
Mark Brown
Frank Ballif, Charlie Armstrong
Zach Buckner
Dean Maupin
Joel Slezak, Erica Hellen
Collean Laney
Brennan Gould
Pam Moran
Dave Chapman
David Heilberg
Jeyon Falsini
Kristen Szakos
Dan Rosenweig


2013

UVA

Teresa Sullivan
William Goodwin
Patrick Hogan

Developers

Coran Capshaw
Gabe Silverman
UVA
Dan Rosenweig
Wendell Wood

Politicians

Ken Boyd
David Toscano
Kristin Szakos
Rob Bell
City Republicans

Arts

Jody Kielbasa
Jon Parrish Peede
Matt Joslyn
Erica Arvold
Maureen Lovett

Entrepreneurs

Baron Schwartz and Kyle Redinger, Vivid Cortex
Dr. Crystal Icenhour, Phthisis Diagnostics
ChartIQ, Dan Schleifer
InSpark technologies, Erik and Karl Otto
LoveThatFit, Gina Mancuso
Pete Myers, Environmental Health Sciences
Toam Nguyen, C’ville Central
Kristen Suokko, Local Food Hub
Neal Kassell, Focused Ultrasound Foundation
Brian Wheeler, Charlottesville Tomorrow


2012

UVA

Teresa Sullivan
Helen Dragas
George Cohen
Edward Howell
Carl Zeithaml

Politicians

David Toscano
Richard Baxter Gilliam
Ken Boyd
Sonjia Smith
Chris Dumier

Landlords

Coran Capshaw
Michael Strine
Gabe Silverman and Allan Cadgens
Jim Justice
John Dewberry

Investors

Ted Weschler
Hunter Craig
Jaffray Woodriff and Michael Geismar
Robert Hardie
Mark Giles

Entrepreneurs

Tom Skalak
Martin Chapman
Michael Prichard and Tobias Dengel
Dr. Neal Kassell
Zach Buckner

Arts

Maggie Guggenheimer
Jody Kielbasa
Matt Joslyn
Steve and Russell Willis Taylor
Andrew Owen

Youth Movement

Tony Bennett
Collean Laney
Michael Allenby
Wes Bellamy
Hebah Fisher


2011

  1. Teresa Sullivan
  2. Ken Boyd
  3. Coran Capshaw
  4. Dave Norris
  5. Colette Sheehy
  6. Edward Howell
  7. Pam Moran
  8. Jim Haden
  9. Hunter Craig
  10. Craig Littlepage
  11. Tom Foley
  12. P. Williamson
  13. Thomas Skalak
  14. Aubrey Watts
  15. F. & Susan Payne
  16. Carol Wood
  17. Joy Johnson
  18. Richard Baxter Gilliam
  19. David Lourie
  20. Leslie Greene Bowman

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