Inside Business recognizes Rhonda Stewart
Published 10:26 am Friday, October 18, 2013
FRANKLIN—In Rhonda Stewart’s view, the board of directors took a chance when they hired her as executive director of The Village at Woods Edge, a local retirement community. That was in the summer of 2008. Five years later, that gamble continues to pay off. Not only has Stewart, 35, remained as the leader, she’s also the inspiration for the memory care center, which is under construction.
All of this apparently merited not only a nomination, but also recognition as one of the latest Top Forty under Forty in the Hampton Roads region. Men and women are selected annually by Inside Business, a regional publication, with TowneBank as the presenting sponsor.
Theresa Beale, executive director of the Franklin-Southampton Area Chamber of Commerce, nominated both Stewart and Amanda Jarratt, president and chief executive officer of the Franklin-Southampton Economic Development Inc.
“They’re both very outstanding individuals,” Beale said. “Both serve on our chamber board. We’ve gotten to know them very well, and we respect both of them for the positive impact they’ve made on our community through their careers and their personal lives. We’re just real proud of both of them and enjoy working with them through the chamber.”
Stewart was moved by the recognition.
“This is a huge honor and completely unexpected,” she said. “I’m humbled to be a part of that group. I appreciate it.
“It was very nice,” Stewart continued, about the awards presentation on Tuesday in Norfolk. “There was a huge group from Franklin that attended. That was probably the biggest representation there. It’s nice to have so many friends support us.”
Although she and her husband, Steve, and their two dogs, Asa and Lucy, had to move to Suffolk earlier this year, her heart remains here.
“I’m still very much involved in Franklin,” said Stewart, mentioning a few other professionally related activities. These include such as serving on the board of directors for the chamber; secretary of the Bronco Federal Credit Union; and funding chairwoman of the Franklin Rotary Club. In the past, she’s served on the Western Tidewater Free Clinic’s board of directors.
As executive director, Stewart’s responsible for overseeing any strategic planning, marketing and budgeting for the community.
“I manage operations at The Village. Our big focus is on customer service,” she said. “We maintain a high level of resident care.”
That concern for residents further showed itself while working on her master’s of business administration degree from The University of Tennessee.
“I put a business plan together to get the money for a memory care center,” Stewart said.
Her compassion for people goes back even further.
“Nursing is my background,” she said. Working in urgent care, intensive care and emergency room were part of her responsibilities. Then a move to case management and director followed.
Stewart went on to work for two hospitals under the Community Health System, including Southside Regional in Petersburg. There she dealt with social issues and placements in assisted living or nursing homes.
Through meeting and marrying Steve, she came to Franklin. When the opportunity came to work at The Village, she took it because she wanted to work where the couple lived.
That opening came through Nancy Brewbaker, director of marketing.
“I just happened to meet Rhonda at a neighborhood gathering. I knew that Ann B. Mosley was retiring as executive director, and said Rhonda should apply. She did, she got it and I could not be happier,” said Brewbaker.
“Working with Rhonda and is delight and pleasure,” she continued. “She’s smart, dependable, fair and thoughtful. This recognition is clearly deserved because she’s outstanding as a person and a professional.”
After the board’s hire, Stewart said, “I learned a lot in a short amount of time. It’s worked out. This really is a great place to work.”