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Smart Pill, a new podcast from WHRO's Emerging Leaders Board, features conversations covering a wide range of topics that include humor, engage the mind and explore the local community.

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Welcome to the official site for the WHRO Emerging Leaders Board (ELB), a unique group of young professionals who are passionate about public media and who are interested in supporting it’s mission.

The mission of the ELB (also affectionately known as the ELBows) is to seek new and unique opportunities to engage millennials in public media. 

We are a nerdy, fun, community engaged group.

WHRO Emerging Leaders Board Welcomes New Members

Keith Darrow 
Paige Hamm
Jane Kim
Ryan Klavan
Monica Meyer
John Miller
Jose Morey
Whitney Porter
Rachel Thompson
Igor Vaserfirer
Nisha Witt

Continuing Members:

Jennifer Chapman
Katie Elder
Luis Estrada-Chair
Zoe Hardy
Rhena Hicks-Vice Chair

Meghan E.Higgins-Secretary
Tim Kubinak
Maria Lawson-Davenport
Truly Matthews
Brad Tuggle-Treasurer

Click here for Emerging Leaders Board Guidelines

Who we are:

We are made up of 22 young professionals who are beginning to make their mark in Hampton Roads in a number of different industries. We currently have accountants and finance professionals from large companies, communication experts from Fortune 500 companies, educators in the arts, educators in our school systems, we have PhDs, and attorneys who work for well recognized firms (even a partner), and non profit and local government professionals just to name a few. In short, this capable group of millennials has an important bond, we are PBS and NPR nerds who are spending their time giving back to public media.

What we are doing:
Authenticity is everything in today’s world, and public media is in the center of that conversation. Local public media stations are delivering critical content and driving important conversations that highlight so many walks of life. One of those walks of life include millennials and the WHRO ELB has been working hard to shine a light on issues that matter most to millennials throughout Eastern Virginia.

With authenticity and engagement at its core, the ELB’s most striking success has been their Emerging Talks series – where they host public conversations about local issues, developments, and other topics of interest around Hampton Roads, featuring public personalities, officials, and experts in a format that is playfully modeled after the French salons of the 18th century enlightenment. So far our Emerging Talks include:

Our first Emerging Talk was in partnership with 757 Makerspace which is a community workspace for education, and entrepreneurial endeavors. Makerspace took the time to share what they do and how they are impacting Hampton Roads and how they are also helping to prepare those who need 21st century skills in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Boss Ladies: Women Leading in the Community
Our second Emerging Talk was our Boss Ladies salon where we examined the the unique, and often challenging, experiences of women who work in historically male dominated industries. We had a panel of women leaders who included:

Nicole Carry - Former City Council Member and Technology Professional

Geneva Williams - Veteran, Retired Air Force

Cher E. Wynkoop - Partner, Willcox & Savage, P.C.

We took the opportunity to ask our esteemed panelists about their experiences and challenges in their industries and then moved to breakout sessions to foster intimate dialogue with our audience members. The ELBows moderated the small group discussions and encouraged audience members to engage further with the panelists.


Wait Wait...Don’t Tell Me! There’s Sea Level Rise

As one of the most impacted regions in the United States for sea level rise, the ELB sought to help Hampton Roads residents understand how our area is affected, what the future holds, and opportunities for involvement. This event was modeled after Wait Wait... Don’t Tell Me! And was an interactive conversation/game show and was planned in partnership with Globalshapers Norfolk. The event was hosted at the Brock Environmental Center in Virginia Beach and featured expert panelists including:

Mary Carson Stiff - Wetlands Watch
Michael Allen - Geographer and Climate Scientists - Old Dominion University
Chris Revels - @Walkinghouses Artist
Benjamin McFarlane - Senior Regional Planner, Hampton Roads Planning District Commission


Con Salon: Diversity and Inclusion in Comics and Geek Culture

This salon was a storytelling hour featuring true stories from geek, gaming, and comic culture. The ELB sought to celebrate the experiences of women, minorities, and LGBTQ+ emerging in fan-dom at Comic Con and beyond. The event featured several speakers focused on specific topics such as:

Phillip Odango: On body-shaming, acceptance, and non-white representation in comics/film

Dawn Wilfong: We’re gamers, we’re women, and we got game

Isaac "Zach" Schneider: United but still divided in geek culture on campus


Digital Art Pop-up

The ELB hosted a digital art pop-up at Amplified IT, in the Norfolk Arts District during the NEON Festival. The pop-up was a space for artists to create and display digital art and gave community members a platform to comment on how technology has impacted how they create and consume visual content. The ELB collected digital art via open call to display at the event and also featured several artists including Rick Nickel, Allison Stinely, and Mensah Imbeigh Rey, who experimented with Tilt Brush. Tilt Brush is a VR app that let’s you paint in a room scale 3D space with virtual reality.


Emerging Talks: Cloaked in Invisibility

The ELB hosted their next salon at the Hugh Copeland center in the NEON arts district and centered it on Women Veterans. The event brought focus to the military uniform and how it is intended to be a great equalizer. However, it has always been a complex symbol for those who wear it. It stands for honor, patriotism, sacrifice and commitment – but is also freighted in masculine symbolism. For women who choose to wear the uniform, negotiating these complexities can be an unanticipated minefield that is often forgotten or misunderstood by the civilian population. The objective of the Emerging Talk was to  explore themes of femininity, motherhood, service, sacrifice and duty through the lens of the women who either wear the uniform or who are impacted by it in a powerful evening of story telling shared by Reinetta Van, Barbara Ramirez, Tasha Hill, Nisha Witt, Anne Barlieb and was hosted by Isaura Ramirez, a Latina combat veteran who is well recognized in Hampton Roads and has performed at the White House and many comedy clubs on the east coast.


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