Promoting progress in Virginia by shining

a spotlight on the business leaders, activists,

and ideas moving us ahead.

Featured Virginia Stories


Growing for the Future: The Story of Leigh Hauter

As NDP pulled up to Bull Run Mountain Vegetable Farm, we were pleasantly greeted by sprawling fields, lush with fresh vegetables.  A seasoned veteran of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms, Leigh Hauter has built not one, but two CSA farms from the ground up.  The first was a joint project with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, with the aim of bringing fresh produce into the lower income areas of Washington, D.C.  Before this initiative, farmer’s markets were absolutely unheard of in D.C.  Read more >

Fighting for America, Fighting for Veterans: The Story of Raj Srinivasan

Raj Srinivasan’s parents emigrated to Virginia from Chennai, India on H1-B visas when Raj was very young.  During high school in Roanoke, Raj had trouble and felt isolated.  In a striking act of self-reliance and patriotism, Raj decided to attend West Point when he graduated.  Everything changed from that point on—his future, his experiences, his understanding of himself, and his friendships with the brothers who fought alongside him—not to mention his interest in public service.  Read more >

Fighting for Opportunity in Southwest Virginia: The Story of Penny Franklin

Penny Franklin had had enough.  Her children were being harassed in Montgomery County public schools.  She’s supported her family for decades by working on a loading dock.  She also served as president of IUE/CWA Local 82160.  But when it came to her kids, she thought she needed to step up.  “I came into public service because my children, in public education, were not being treated fairly,” she recalled.  “That’s something you just don’t mess with, is my children.”  Read more >

A Virginian’s Fight for Citizenship: The Story of Dr. Isabel Castillo

Harrisonburg resident Isabel Castillo is a Virginian through and through. She graduated from high school with a 4.0 and earned a degree in social work magna cum laude from Eastern Mennonite University. She was recently awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of San Francisco. But she’s undocumented-and a leading national advocate for the DREAM Act.  Read more >

The Sun Is Shining on Business in Virginia: The Story of Kent Baake

Alexandria entrepreneur Kent Baake sees innovation, national security, and good business as linked-and has put his successful gutter and home exterior business behind a new enterprise: installing solar for residential consumers in Virginia. Along the way, he’s  become a successful activist for solar power. And, for this Eagle Scout, it all began with a creek in Alexandria.  Read more >

Education Reform in Virginia: The Story of Ingris Moran

When Ingris Moran talks about the American Dream, it isn’t hokey and it isn’t a cliche.  Ingris’ parents are her inspiration.  Immigrants from El Salvador, her father can’t read and washes dishes; her mother works retail. Ingris has become a committed activist on education reform on their behalf. Call it the Virginia Dream-and with Ingris’ grassroots work for a new system of Personalized Education Action Plans in Virginia, she’s making a difference.  Read more >

Labor-Led Education in Virginia: The Story of Mike Briley

Mike Briley’s dad passed away when he was 18.  Mike had been planning on heading to college, but his mom was now on her own, and he needed to take care of her.  So he changed his plans, decided to follow in his dad’s footsteps, and become a welder’s apprentice.  But it wasn’t easy; it took five years of continuous coursework, hard study, and painstaking training.  Recently, Mike’s son followed suit. Read more >

Making Sustainability Pay in Virginia: The Story of Brenda Robinson

One thing about her grandparents’ farm in Southwest Virginia still sticks with small businesswoman Brenda Robinson, decades later: there were no garbage cans.  Brenda later converted a former Brown & Williamson tobacco factory into the Sustainability Park, a campus for viable green-related businesses.  “What we’re doing here is nothing new,” she said, “it’s what our ancestors did out of necessity.”  Read more >

Small Business, Technological Innovation, and Progress: The Story of Pete Erickson

NDP recently sat down at the historic McLean Family Restaurant with Pete Erickson, the founder of a speed-of-light innovative technology firm called Disruptathon in Northern Virginia. In the noisy, old-school diner, over a table spread with oatmeal, pancakes, eggs, and many cups of coffee (Pete drank only decaf), Pete told us his story. Read more >

From Jail to the Voting Booth: The Story of Frank Anderson

To put it lightly, Frank Anderson challenges stereotypes. The Burke resident is an ex-felon–a convicted burglar who robbed a house when he was twenty and spent two years in prison. And up until last year, he could not vote.  But the Burke resident has become an activist on voting reform.  Read more >

Doing the Lord’s Work in East Richmond: The Story of Rev. Dr. Patricia Gould-Champ

On a recent Sunday, I visited Faith Community Church, which rises proudly in the midst of a blighted neighborhood in Richmond. Amid used car dealerships and payday lenders, the bright, new building stands like a beacon. Read more >

The Story of an Anti-Gang Leader: The Story of Robert “Tito” Vilchez

One of the most disturbing statistics Robert “Tito” Vilchez came across when he started in his anti-gang advocacy work was that 85% of all gang members in Virginia are Latino. He’s out to change that statistic. Read more >

The Story of a Clean Car Advocate: The Story of David Brown

David Brown is a chiropractor, the former Mayor of Charlottesville, and currently a Charlottesville city councilor. He’s also a big advocate of clean cars and sees the potential they have to bring jobs to Virginia and across the country. Read more >

Bookmark and Share