Role models

Published 1:23 pm Saturday, October 19, 2013

To anyone who knows them, learning that two local women had been named to Inside Business’ annual list of the Top 40 Under 40 list came as no surprise. In fact, the true surprise would have come had they not been selected. Rhonda Stewart, the 35-year-old executive director of The Village at Woods Edge, and 31-year-old Amanda Jarratt, president and chief executive officer of Franklin Southampton Economic Development Inc., were recognized by the regional business publication this week as two of Hampton Roads’ outstanding young business leaders.

It is in no way an exaggeration to say that their professional accomplishments have improved the quality of life for those in Western Tidewater, by both significantly improving the services available to our seniors and helping to grow our local economy. But it’s not just what they have achieved professionally that makes them worthy of such recognition. In my opinion, it is the overall contributions they make to our community that truly set them apart.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I must reveal that I’ve had the pleasure of working closely with both of these ladies over the past few years as we serve on a number of civic boards and clubs together, and Rhonda is actually married to my boss. Yet even if you took my personal bias out of the discussion, it is easy to see why both Rhonda and Amanda are such wonderful assets to this community. They are nothing short of role models as well.

There is a real shortage today of those willing to serve in their communities, especially among those who were born anytime after 1970 or so. It used to be that community service, whether it was joining the local Rotary or Ruritan Club, was taken as a personal responsibility for younger professionals as they began their careers. Today, it’s tough to convince many to take part. But Rhonda and Amanda have both embraced the spirit of service with open arms, each spending a significant amount of their own time in service to our community. And ours is a better community for their commitment.