Author: Grace Silipigni

2020 Nonprofit of the Year: Survivor Ventures

“In the movies, [human trafficking] is this big kidnapping situation. You’re taken away and never heard from again, but it’s not like that. It’s actually the complete opposite. Most of the time, it’s the people that you trust, love and…

Local Artist’s Pie Goes Viral

Pie fashion is high fashion for Virginia-based sculptor Karen Freidt, who swapped art supplies for kitchen utensils in her recent dive into creative baked goods. The former NASA employee experimented with elaborately carved pie crusts ranging from floral landscapes to…

Virginia is for Park Lovers

A narrow path ascends the banks of the nearby Broad Bay—the deep blue waters reflecting colored ripples from the rustling leaves of towering trees. The trail is heavily trodden, riddled with foliage and sand, and it is quiet, save the occasional crescendo of songbirds or quick staccato of a woodpecker's beak. When traversing the grounds of…

History Happens at Coastal Virginia Outdoor Attractions

Virginia is, quite literally, at the forefront of American history. The Commonwealth is the birthplace of our nation’s most significant settlements and most influential leaders. For centuries, our local soil produced bountiful harvests and bore the brunt of shipwrecks and…

Norfolk Botanical Garden Plants the Seed for Lifelong Grown, Learning and Innovation

We all have specific cities, venues and events we use to chronicle our lives. For some, their adolescence is archived by summer vacations along the Sandbridge shores or recorded by screams on the corkscrew turns of Busch Garden’s Alpengeist. For most Southside residents, however, their personal histories are tightly intertwined with Norfolk Botanical Garden.…

Back to the Beaches We Love

When you settle down in your hometown, you often take for granted its allure—its infinite sites, attractions and natural beauty that illicit jealousy in out-of-towners and spark marvel in new residents. We Coastal Virginians know this better than anyone. What we…

Daring to Be Powerful: YWCA Women of Distinction

Photography by Dave Uhrin and Jim Pile Nine women join the ranks of our region’s most powerful female leaders in the 32nd year of the YWCA South Hampton Roads’ Women of Distinction Awards. From courtrooms and classrooms to marine life…

2020 YWCA Women of Distinction: Aleea Slappy Wilson

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer, City of Norfolk “An impactful leader allows their life to be an example that inspires, challenges and encourages others to show up as their best most incredible selves.”   Aleea Slappy Wilson may only be…

2020 YWCA Women of Distinction: Jeannette Rincon

Communications Command Operations Department Head/Lieutenant, United States Coast Guard “Our people are our most important resource and we need to make sure we take care of them so they can maximize their contribution to our service.”   Jeannette Rincon committed…

2020 YWCA Women of Distinction: Allyson McNaughton

Veterinarian, Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center “As I talk to [students], teach them and show them new things, their excitement, questions and growing interests reminds me how lucky I am to do what I do, and my passion for…

2020 YWCA Women of Distinction: Judy Jankowski

Head of School, Chesapeake Bay Academy “Our commonalities far outweigh our differences if only we are open to looking outside of ourselves.”   If given the opportunity and proper support, everyone can reach their full potential. Judy Jankowski quickly realized…

2020 YWCA Women of Distinction: Elle Harris

Executive Director, The W. Agency, Inc. “There’s no glass ceiling if there is no ceiling.”   Elle Harris has donned a host of leadership titles and mentor positions at local nonprofits, civic leagues and churches, but recognition is not what…

2020 YWCA Women of Distinction: Mary Blunt

Senior Corporate Vice President (retired), Sentara Healthcare “Your health is your greatest personal asset and [is] invaluable. We need to respect it and nurture it for the future.”   Graduating from a physical therapist to the senior corporate vice president…

2020 YWCA Women of Distinction: Richardean Benjamin

Associate Dean, College of Health Sciences, Old Dominion University “Education is synonymous with knowledge, and knowledge and information are the gateway to the world.”   With five degrees and over a dozen prestigious accolades, Dr. Richardean Benjamin is the epitome…

2020 YWCA Women of Distinction: Andrea Bear

Owner, Bear in Mind Strategies, LLC “Increasingly, both locally and globally, women working together are able to improve the world around them. So, yes, I think the “W” does make the difference, which is good for all of us.”  …

Remote Work: 5 Tips for Staying Productive and Organized

Had you asked the U.S. workforce two months ago, the majority would view the #WFH movement as a luxury. But as the spread of COVID-19 exacerbates the need for remote work, U.S. professionals are realizing the downsides to being away…

K’bana Blaq Releases New Album

On Feb. 11, the multi-hyphenate K’bana Blaq released his newest and most progressive body of work, Death to Mindless Music. The 15-song album is composed of a symphony of musical genres including soul, R&B and funk. Complementing these dance-worthy melodies…

A Day in the Life at Sugar Plum Bakery

Naomi waits patiently for the paratransit bus to arrive at her Virginia Beach home. She boards just before noon, mingles with fellow riders and offloads at Sugar Plum Bakery on Laskin Road. She then bounds through the automatic double doors…

Read Books Sets Up Camp in Virginia Beach

On Feb. 2, a shiny 1977 Airstream appeared in a vacant lot at the heart of the ViBe Creative District. The bulbous trailer isn’t another food truck, however, rather a quirky bookstore brimming with over 1,000 titles hand-selected by owner…