Roze MerditaJ, Founder/CEO – Real Women Collective Action (rwca)

Roze has over 10 years banking Experience and over 8 years running small businesses. At Fulton Bank, she holds the position of Commercial Lender. In her career has focused primarily on business development, strategic planning, management, business lending, consumer lending, team development, coaching, and community development. Additional abilities include building successful work teams, project management, multi-layer communication, networking, and relationship building.

Throughout her banking experience, she has been inspired to bring value with her commitment to financial education, service, open communication, and connecting people with resources.

Her career in banking has involved many roles and responsibilities that she used every day to help those around her. While in these roles she completed a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Business all the while raising her children as a single mom. To say where there is a will there is a way barely describes her.

Roze was born and raised in Kosovo, Yugoslavia. Women in Kosovo are limited in life choices and are considered second class citizens. Becoming a resource and creating a path for women is one her main passions in life. She believes anyone can achieve great success, with hard work, dedication, and focus.

As a strong believer in lifelong learning, Roze provides regular programs for school children called “Teach Children to Save,” in which participants learn about their wants and needs and concepts of saving money. She delivered “Teach Children to Save” to over 300 students in Hampton Roads in 2015. She mentors and coaches youth groups on financial management in Suffolk, Newport News, and Hampton, volunteers with Habitat for Humanity, the Food Bank, Goodwill, and various shelters throughout the year.

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Jim Schneider, Owner – Schneider Custom Builders

Jim was introduced to the construction industry when his dad, a contractor himself, started bringing him to work as a 9‐year‐old boy. In 1984, he started his company that over the years has developed into a Custom Design Build firm.

Schneider Custom Builders designs new custom homes and remodels but takes more pride in building relationships. “We’ve grown to realize the critical nature of earning the trust of our clients is only overshadowed by maintaining it. It’s easy to build/remodel a house for a client, it’s our goal to build/remodel a home for a friend.”

Jim, a Norfolk resident, has been married to his wife Sue for 29 years and has two children, Mackenzie and Joey. He serves on the board or the Ghent Business Association, Advisory Board of the CHKD Child Abuse Prevention Program and is a past Chair of the Craftsmen, club #11 of the National Association of Home Builder’s 20 Club program.

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Polly White, COO — Gather

Polly White is a founding partner with and COO of Gather, a professional coworking community. Gather currently has three locations in Richmond that provide collaborative and creative workspace to more than 500 businesses. Gather’s newest and flagship location will be opening in Norfolk in June at 500 East Main Street. A second Hampton Roads location will open in the Tech Center, Newport News in August. Together with the Richmond locations, Gather will provide a community to more than 1,000 businesses.   

 A serial entrepreneur, business consultant and speaker, Polly is known throughout the US and internationally from her columns in Entrepreneur.com and Richmond.com among others. She has written two award-winning books with her business partner and husband, Doug.    

Polly gives back to the community through her work with nonprofits, chambers of commerce, foundations and boards.  

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Stephanie Gorham, Executive Director — VOLUNTEER Hampton Roads

Stephanie, Executive Director of VOLUNTEER Hampton Road, received her Bachelor's Degree from Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas. She is a seasoned nonprofit development professional with more than 15 years' experience working for various nonprofits in the Texas area and most recently served as the Development Officer supporting the Tidewater Community College Foundation. During her time at TCC, Stephanie raised funds in support of numerous scholarships, student leadership programs and needed equipment for student programs.

Stephanie began her career in Texas where she served as the Vice President of Resource Development for the United Way of North Texas and the Director of Development for CASA of Red River, Texas.

Stephanie resides in Chesapeake with her husband Jim Gorham, a Lieutenant Commander in the Navy, and their four children.

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Curtis & Robin Hoessly, Allegra Marketing, print & Mail

Curtis and Robin both grew up in Norfolk and after a career in foodservice decided to purchase a local commercial printing company with the intention to transition it into an Allegra Marketing Print & Mail franchise.

Twelve years later and a number of acquisitions Allegra now has over 30 employees to service the entire Hampton Roads market. In addition, Allegra has been joined by Image 360 (a full service sign & graphics division) which allows Allegra and Image 360 to offer a complete graphics communication expertise to our customers in Hampton Roads.

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Allen Fabijan has been with Sinclair Communications here in Hampton Roads for 20 years. Most folks are not familiar with the name Sinclair Communications, but they do recognize the popular stations that are in the radio group — BOB FM | US 106.1 | AM 790 WNIS | 96X | SPORTS RADIO AM 850.

Allen’s persona, Some Guy Named Allen, is followed by thousands of fans and a multitude of businesses. Allen is a “non-nonsense” guy when it comes to business. Allen believes no one deserves the big ideas more than small business.

Allen is an on-air personality, a creative marketing director, a husband and proud dad, and a proud patriot.