The Foundation's Council is a group of passionate, enthusiastic advocates who connect us to the greater community, share our story, and promote our mission.
These goodwill ambassadors work closely with the Foundation's Chairman, Board of Directors and team to provide counsel and advice and assist with raising funds and awareness.
Mrs. Batten is a civic leader and community volunteer residing in Virginia Beach, Virginia. She has served on numerous philanthropic boards and is currently Vice-Chair of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation; on the board of the Hampton Roads Community Foundation and the board of E-3 Elevate Early Education, a statewide initiative to promote early childhood development; past Chair and trustee of Virginia Wesleyan College; past trustee of the George Washington Foundation; and emeritus trustee of the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges. She was a founding partner of The First Tee South Hampton Roads. Mrs. Batten and her late husband, Frank Batten, Sr., have a long history of support for educational institutions, including the University of Virginia where they established the Batten Institute at the Darden School of Business and the Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy. Mrs. Batten attended Hollins University. She has three children and six grandchildren.
Charlie Seilheimer was founder, President, and CEO of Sotheby’s International Realty Corporation, the largest marketer of luxury residential estate and farm property in the world. He is a graduate of Middlebury College and The George Washington University Law School. He and his wife, Mary Lou, are collectors of American paintings and furniture of the 18th and 19th centuries and reside at Mount Sharon Farm, outside Orange, where they have created extensive gardens, open by invitation to groups and the public. Mr. Seilheimer has served on numerous business and charitable boards reflecting a broad range of interests in the arts, historic preservation, land conservation, medicine, education, history, and the sport of steeplechasing.
Jay Adams is President and CEO of Bowman Companies in Fredericksburg, Virginia. He is a past Chairman of the Board of Virginia FREE. He earned his undergraduate degree from Virginia Military Institute in 1966, and his JD from Washington and Lee University School of Law in 1969. He serves on the Board of Universal Corporation in Richmond and is Chairman of The Fauquier Bank in Warrenton. He is a former Director and Chairman of the Board of Virginia Power and a former Director of Dominion Resources and of the National Association of Manufacturers. Mr. Adams is involved in many charitable and civic organizations, including his current service as Chairman of The National Theatre Corporation, Chairman of the Outstanding Virginian Committee, Chairman of The George C. Marshall Foundation, and past Chairman of the Virginia State Fair. He serves as a Trustee of the Museum of the American Revolution, and is an Emeritus Trustee of the Virginia Commonwealth University Foundation and the University of Mary Washington Foundation. He is a member of the Board of the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership, a past Trustee of the Virginia Historical Society, and a former Trustee of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Foundation. He is an Honorary Trustee of the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges and a former Trustee of Woodlawn and of Oatlands, both National Historic Trust Sites.
Ellen Block is a registered occupational therapist, small business owner, and an active philanthropist engaged in a wide range of societal and community-related issues locally, nationally and globally. She is Chair of the Board of Overseers at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, and serves on the Board of Overseers of the Heller School of Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University and the Boards of the University of Chicago Medical Center, the Toy Industry Foundation, the Steering Committee of the Jewish Women’s Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago, and the American Jewish Joint (JDC) Distribution Committee. She has also served as Chair of the Hasbro Children’s Foundation, a director of the Taylor Institute Think Tank on Urban Issues, and co-Founder and Chair of the September 11th Children’s Fund. In recognition of her philanthropic leadership, Ms. Block was named one of “100 Women Making a Difference” by Today’s Chicago Woman magazine, and has received many awards including the Children’s Aid Society’s Charles Loring Brace Award, the National Hannah Solomon Award, and the 2010 TAGIE Humanitarian Award. Ms. Block is a graduate of Tufts University and received an Honorary Doctorate from the Audrey Cohen College for Social Research.
Charlie Bryan is a Distinguished Military Graduate of the Virginia Military Institute. After receiving his Master's degree from the University of Georgia, he served as an officer in the U.S. Army.
Upon completing his Ph.D. in history from the University of Tennessee, he spent 30 years as a historian working in museums and historic sites, the last 20 as president and CEO of the Virginia Historical Society. During his tenure at the VHS, Charlie oversaw campaigns that raised more than $110 million, resulting in quadrupling the size of the VHS's headquarters building and museum in Richmond and a significant expansion of statewide programs and services.
When Charlie retired from the VHS in 2008, the board of trustees named its new education wing in honor of him. In addition, the Virginia General Assembly named him the Outstanding Virginian of 2009 for "his distinguished contributions, outstanding achievements, and inspiring leadership and service to the citizens of Virginia." The same year, the American Association for State and Local History presented him with its highest award for "his extraordinary service in the field of public history."
Charlie and his business partner, Dan Jordan, formed Bryan & Jordan Consulting, LLC, which specializes in helping nonprofit organizations in strategic planning, board development, executive searches, and fundraising plans.
He has been married to his wife, Cammy, for 49 years, and they have two married children, a daughter and a son, and three grandchildren.
Jessica Che-yi Chao was born and raised in Taipei. She received her Bachelor's degree from National Taiwan University and her M.B.A from Columbia University. Jessica has worked in different capacities in the financial industry for 15 years, across banking, equity research and strategic investment. Most recently she was an Executive Director of Firmwide Strategy at Goldman Sachs (Asia) based in Hong Kong. She now resides in Taipei.
Tom Chewning retired in 2009 as the Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Dominion Resources, after more than 20 years with the company. In 2005, Institutional Investor named Mr. Chewning CFO of the Year for the Utility Industry and, in 2009, he was honored by Virginia Business as the CFO of the Year from among the Commonwealth's publicly traded companies. Over the years, he has been active in community affairs. Mr. Chewning currently serves as Immediate Past Chairman of the Community Foundation of Central Virginia. He is Chair Emeritus of the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation.
Nancy Chewning is a committed volunteer and community leader. Mrs. Chewning previously served on the Advisory Board at the Massey Cancer Center and is a deacon and choir member at First Baptist Church. She has been married to Tom Chewning for 49 years. They have two children and two grandchildren.
Norwood Davis is Managing Director of CMD Management, LLC. He is the former Chairman and CEO of Trigon Healthcare and a former director of a number of other public and privately held companies. Mr. Davis has held leadership positions with numerous nonprofit boards, including Hampden-Sydney College, the Commonwealth Foundation for Cancer Research, the Miller Center of Public Affairs, the Metropolitan Richmond Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Richmond Business Hall of Fame. He is a graduate of Hampden-Sydney College, the University of Virginia School of Law and the University of Virginia Darden School of Business.
Marguerite Davis is owner of Davis, Uniquely Beautiful Jewelry, a fine jewelry boutique in Richmond, Virginia. She is currently in a leadership position on the Foundation Board for the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Engineering and has served on the Board of the Virginia Engineering Foundation at The University of Virginia and the Board of Trustees for Hampden Sydney College. She is a graduate of the University of Virginia and the Gemological Institute of America.
With expertise in Cloud, Internet-of-Things technologies, and Artificial Intelligence, Rick Hamilton is an Optum Distinguished Engineer, and formerly the most prolific inventor in IBM history. He is currently recognized as the 20th most prolific inventor in world history, with over 900 issued US patents. Rick now works broadly across UnitedHealth Group's strategic imperatives, including machine learning, genomics, blockchain, IoT, and cybersecurity, to help people live healthier lives and make healthcare work better. He is a graduate of the University of Tennessee, Southern Methodist University, and the University of Texas.
Diane Heller lives in Chicago, where she is involved in many foundations and beautification efforts in the city. Mrs. Heller and her late husband David, who died in 2012, generously supported the building of the new Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago. The Diane and David B. Heller Charitable Foundation is a major supporter and early co-sponsor of the Focused Ultrasound Foundation. Mrs. Heller attended the Art Institute of Chicago, majoring in art history.
Cessie Howell resides in Falmouth, Virginia, and is active in historical preservation and charitable pursuits. A graduate of the University of Maryland, she was a teacher before devoting her time to philanthropic endeavors. Mrs. Howell is President Emeritus of the Board of Trustees of Scenic Virginia and is a member of the board of the Regents of the George Washington Foundation. Mrs. Howell also served on the boards of the Virginia Historical Society and the Christian Woman’s Club, started the Save Ferry Farm Committee to protect the site of George Washington’s boyhood home, and led the formation of the Historic Port of Falmouth Association. She is a longtime member of Women in the Giving Spirit, the Rappahannock Valley Garden Club, and a founder of the Fredericksburg Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary, where she served as chaplain and co-chaplain and helped to run its Christmas Toyland program for many years. She was named Woman of the Year by the Woman’s Club of Fredericksburg in 2007. Mrs. Howell and her husband The Honorable William J. Howell, former Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates, have two sons and seven grandchildren.
The Honorable William J. Howell is the former Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates. After beginning his career in Virginia’s 28th House of Delegates district in 1988, Mr. Howell was named Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates in 2003. He retired in January 2018 and is the second-longest serving speaker in state history. During his time in office, Mr. Howell prioritized sound fiscal management while supporting core initiatives such as education, transportation, public safety, and preservation and conservation. He also recognized the importance of advancing innovative medical technologies and was instrumental in securing state funding to help launch the Focused Ultrasound Center at the University of Virginia in 2009. Mr. Howell earned his undergraduate degree in business administration from the University of Richmond and his JD from the University of Virginia School of Law. He and his wife, Cessie have been married for 51 years, have two sons, and enjoy seven energetic grandchildren.
Dean Kamen is an inventor, entrepreneur and a tireless advocate for science and technology. He holds more than 440 U.S. and foreign patents, many of them for innovative medical devices that have expanded the frontiers of health care worldwide. In 1976, he founded his first medical device company, AutoSyringe, Inc., to manufacture and market the world’s first wearable infusion pump, which he had invented while still a college undergraduate. He later founded DEKA Research & Development Corporation to develop internally-generated inventions as well as to provide research and development for major corporate clients. Kamen led DEKA's development of such devices as the HomeChoice™ peritoneal dialysis system, the iBOT™ mobility device, and the Segway® Human Transporter. Kamen has received many awards, including the National Medal of Technology in 2000 and the 2002 Lemelson-MIT Prize, and was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2005. One of Dean's proudest accomplishments is founding FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), an organization dedicated to motivating the next generation to understand, use, and enjoy science and technology. Founded in 1989, this year FIRST® will serve more than 1 million young people, ages 6 to 18, in more than 86 countries around the globe.
Ann Kingston is an artist manager and head of philanthropic initiatives for Red Light Management, where she works with the company’s clients to form strategic partnerships with non-profits on local and national levels, assists bands in using their voices to effect positive change, and helps produce large-scale benefit concerts. In addition to her philanthropic role, Mrs. Kingston also manages South African folksinger, poet-activist Vusi Mahlasela, and is a part of the management team for Dave Matthews Band. A graduate of the University of Virginia, she and her husband live in Charlottesville with their two young boys.
After graduating from Rollins College, Winter Park, Florida, Harry Lester served as an officer in the US Navy, and has lived in Virginia Beach since 1970. His career in commercial and industrial real estate was enhanced by community engagement including chairing the Hampton Roads Community Foundation, the Chrysler Museum and the Hampton Roads Business Roundtable and leading or serving on a variety of other boards and commissions. He served as President of the Eastern Virginia Medical School for eight years, retiring to community activities including Chair of the Lynnhaven River project that he co-founded in 2000 and Chair of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation Board of Trustees.
Amanda Megargel was a Vice President in Corporate Finance at Lehman Brothers, where she worked for six years. After investment banking, she did interior design work in New York before moving to Charlottesville, Virginia. She has served on numerous non-profit boards, including the Brearley School, St. Anne’s-Belfield School, Planned Parenthood of the Blue Ridge, CASA, and the Music Resource Center. Mrs. Megargel received her undergraduate degree from Trinity College and her MBA from Columbia University.
Jonna Hiestand Mendez
Jonna Mendez is a retired CIA intelligence officer with 27 years of service. She joined the CIA’s Office of Technical Service (OTS) in early 1970, providing the agency with the technical wherewithal to facilitate its operations around the globe. A specialist in clandestine photography, her duties included training the CIA’s most highly placed foreign assets in the use of spy cameras, and processing the intelligence they gathered. Upon her retirement in 1993, she had risen to the position of Chief of Disguise and earned the CIA’s Intelligence Commendation Medal. Jonna has since continued her career as a fine art photographer, a consultant/lecturer, and an author. Today she works in her photo studio at the family gallery in Maryland. She and her late husband, Antonio J. Mendez, collaborated on the book Spy Dust about their work against the Soviets in Moscow during the Cold War. She also worked closely with her husband in the writing of ARGO. Jonna is a founding board member at the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C and also serves as Vice President of the La Gesse Foundation, under the auspices of the Princess Cecilia de Medici, presenting American pianists in Europe and at Carnegie Hall in partnership with Catholic University. She is on the board of the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts in Hagerstown, Maryland, and is a board member of Breast Cancer Awareness, Cumberland Valley.
Fortune magazine called Mike Milken "The Man Who Changed Medicine" for his four decades of work to accelerate medical research and advance public health. In 1982, he formalized his previous philanthropy by co-founding the Milken Family Foundation, a leader in worldwide research on a wide range of life-threatening diseases. He heads FasterCures, which is dedicated to removing barriers to progress in medical reseach, and the Milken Institute, a major economic think tank. The Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University was named in recognition of a gift from the Institute. As a financier, Milken is often said to have revolutionized modern capital markets. Starting in 1969, he financed thousands of companies that created millions of jobs. A graduate of UC Berkeley and the Wharton School, he and his wife, Lori, have three children and nine grandchildren.
Mrs. Newcomb is the President of Expedition Trust Company, a South Dakota chartered private trust company with an office in Charlottesville. She was formerly the President of VNB Trust, N.A., having joined Virginia National Bank in February 2006 in anticipation of the formation of the Trust Bank. From 1993 to 2004 she served as Director of Development and Public Affairs for the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, the private nonprofit organization that owns and operates Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson. She was Vice President for Development and University Relations at the University of Redlands from 1986 until the end of 1991. Mrs. Newcomb spent the first nine years of her development career at St. Lawrence University. She serves on the Miller Center Foundation Board, and the Westminster Canterbury Foundation Board. Mrs. Newcomb was a founding director of Charlottesville Tomorrow, and has also served as a director and chairman of Piedmont CASA. She is currently a Big Sister volunteer. A native of Denver, Colorado, she received the AB from Franklin and Marshall College in 1977.
A staff member at FORTUNE Magazine for 25 years, Wyndham Robertson was its first female assistant managing editor. She covered investments, finance and technology. She also served briefly as the business editor of TIME Magazine. Ms. Robertson was the first female vice president of the 16-campus University of North Carolina system. She is an alumna of Hollins University, where she served as a trustee for 31 years and board chair for three. A member of numerous nonprofit and corporate boards, Ms. Robertson has been a director of Capital Cities/ABC Inc., The Equitable Companies Inc., and Wachovia Corporation.
Mary Lou Seilheimer lives in Orange, Virginia, at Mount Sharon Farm, where she manages her extensive gardens, which are opened on a limited basis to groups from throughout the world. Mrs. Seilheimer is the past President and remains on the board of the Boys and Girls Club of Orange. She serves on the board of the Boys and Girls Club of Central Virginia. Mrs. Seilheimer has also been active with the Garden Club of Virginia, serving in a number of capacities including as Co-Chairman of a $2,000,000 campaign for the restoration and expansion of its Headquarters in Richmond; Chairman of the Finance Committee; Vice President; and Chairman of the Restoration Committee, which designates the recipients of Historic Garden Week in Virginia proceeds. For 10 years, she served as Chairman of the board of the Highland School, Warrenton, Virginia, and she served on the Board of the Jack Morton Company, now a division of the Interpublic Group of Companies. Mrs. Seilheimer is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Sweet Briar College with a degree in mathematics. She and her husband Charlie have two children and four grandchildren.
Alice Siegel is a philanthropic and community leader living in Richmond, Virginia. She has served on numerous school and nonprofit boards, including “Access Now,” connected with the Richmond Academy of Medicine; Old St. John’s Church Restoration in King William, Virginia; and The National Council of Stratford Hall. She is the founder of The Bizarre Bazaar, which supports Richmond-area nonprofits by hosting twice-yearly retail gift shows featuring high-quality artisan products. After graduating with a BA in Biology from Hollins University, she became a research assistant first at Sloan Kettering in New York, then in pediatric immunology at the University of Virginia, and finally with the heart transplant team at The Medical College of Virginia. Alice is the widow of John Tyler Siegel, the founder of Thompson, Siegel and Walmsley LLC, an investment firm in Richmond, Virginia. She and her husband have restored several homes, farms and gardens in Virginia. Chericoke, in King William, VA has been open for Historic Garden Week in Virginia and other fundraising events. She has three children and nine grandchildren.
Dr. Aaron Stern was trained as a physician and educator. He accomplished his psychiatric training at Yale University and his training in Psychoanalytic Medicine at Columbia University. He also received a Ph.D. from Columbia University where he focused his work upon the methodology of science and empirical studies of child development. Throughout his professional career, he worked concurrently within the disciplines of medicine and education. He was elected to the Center for Advanced Analytic Studies at Princeton and served as the Educational Consultant to the United States Committee for the United Nations. In addition to teaching psychoanalytic medicine at Columbia University, he was selected to teach Contemporary Civilization as a part of the core undergraduate curriculum at Columbia. He helped to develop the Code and Rating System of the Motion Picture Association of America and served as its Director. During his educational career, he was on the faculties of numerous Universities. He has written numerous scientific and educational papers and is the author of the book The Narcissistic American. Growing out of his work as a management consultant, he joined Tiger Management in 1993. He served as a member of the Management Committee, Advisory Board and became the Chief Operating Officer in 2000. He is presently a trustee of the Robertson Foundation and a member of the Board of Directors of the Robertson Scholarship program.
Fredi Stevenson is chair emeritus and cofounder of Summer Search Boston—an organization whose mission is to identify low-income high school youth who demonstrate resiliency in overcoming hardship and the desire to help others. She is a member of the National Summer Search Board, Smithsonian Institution National Board, NPR Foundation Board, WBUR Board of Overseers, and on the boards of The Cambridge Center for Adult Education and the Fellows of the Harvard Art Museums. She is married to Howard Stevenson. She has four daughters and three stepsons.
Howard Stevenson is the Sarofim-Rock Baker Foundation Professor and Senior Associate Dean at Harvard Business School, and Director of Publishing and Chair of the board for Harvard Business Publishing Company. He has served in various leadership positions at Harvard during the last 35 years, including as the Vice Provost for Harvard University Resources and Planning. Stevenson has been involved with a number of public and privately held companies, including the Baupost Group, Inc.; Camp Dresser & McKee Inc.; Preco Corporation; and Simmons Associates. He has authored, edited or co-authored 11 books and 42 articles. He has served in leadership positions on several nonprofit boards including the Boston Ballet, Sudbury Valley Trustees, National Public Radio, Mount Auburn Hospital, and the Nature Conservancy. He is a graduate of Stanford University and Harvard University.
Bernice Szeto has worked in the finance industry for 20 years in various capacities across family office, private equity and investment banking. Bernice currently heads the strategic development efforts at Olympus Capital Asia, a Pan Asian private equity and private credit investment firm. She is also a consultant to a few single family offices in Asia. Her previous roles include being a Managing Director at Peace Field Ltd., where she headed Peace Field’s placement team and led deal sourcing efforts, and also as the Chief of Staff and Head of Fundraising at FountainVest, a Greater China private equity firm. Prior to that, Bernice was an Executive Director at Goldman Sachs and an investment professional at Sun Hung Kai Properties family office as well at PAMA, a Pan-Asian private equity firm. Bernice graduated magna cum laude from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania with a BS in Economics, and graduated with distinction from the University of Hong Kong with a master’s degree in International and Public Affairs. In her spare time, Bernice enjoys pursuing personal growth opportunities and doing life coaching and meditation. She also took a sabbatical from finance to teach at Diocesan Girls’ School in Hong Kong. Bernice currently resides in Hong Kong.
Kitchie Tolleson moved to Virginia in 1970 and established a breeding and racing stable with her husband, John Ewald, Sr. She later founded “The Very Thing,” a retail shop that grew into a national mail-order business. In the early days of the catalogue industry, she drew on her experience as an assistant to a Kentucky U.S. Senator and became well-versed in public relations and marketing techniques. She has been actively involved with a number of charitable foundations and educational institutions, having served on the boards of Stuart Hall School, Sweet Briar College, the University of Virginia Law School Business Advisory Council and Alumnae Council, and The Thomas Jefferson Foundation. She received her undergraduate degree from Sweet Briar College, and attended the University of Virginia Law School and later Georgetown University. She is the mother of three grown children and lives in Charlottesville, Virginia, and Gulf Stream, Florida.
Dr. von Eschenbach currently serves as President of Samaritan Health Initiatives, Inc. and as an Adjunct Professor at University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. He is the former Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and former Director of National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health. He is the former President of the American Cancer Society and was a founding member of the National Dialog on Cancer. Dr. von Eschenbach serves on the board of directors and is a shareholder for Histosonics. In 2006, TIME Magazine named him one of the “100 most influential people to shape the world,” and he was selected in both 2007 and 2008 as one of the Modern Healthcare/Modern Physician’s “50 Most Powerful Physician Executives in Healthcare.” He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Reagan-Udall Foundation for the FDA and Bausch Health. Dr. von Eschenbach received his undergraduate degree from St. Joseph’s University and his MD from Georgetown University.
Meredith Woo is Sweet Briar College's 13th president. Formerly, she was Director of Global Higher Education Program for the Open Society Foundations, based in London, where her program supported over 50 colleges and universities in the last twenty years, mostly in the former Soviet bloc countries.
She previously served as UVA's Dean of the College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and the Divisional Dean for the Social Sciences at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She also taught at Northwestern University.An expert on international political economy and East Asian politics, she has written and edited seven books, and was the executive producer of an award-winning documentary film, Koryo Saram: The Unreliable People, about Stalin’s ethnic cleansing of Koreans in Far Eastern Russia during the Great Terror. Educated in Seoul and Tokyo through high school, she studied at Bowdoin College in Maine. She completed her master’s and doctoral degrees in international affairs, Latin American studies, and political science at Columbia University.
Linda Zecher is Managing Director of the Barkley Group. Prior to founding the Barkley Group, Linda retired as President, CEO and Director of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Previously, she served as Corporate Vice President of Microsoft's $8 billion Worldwide Public Sector organization, where she led a team of nearly 2,000 sales and marketing professionals serving government, education and healthcare customers in more than 100 countries. Prior to joining Microsoft in 2003, Linda held leadership positions with Texas Instruments, Bank of America, PeopleSoft, Oracle and Evolve Corp. She currently is a member of the Hasbro Corporation Board, and the John F. Kennedy Foundation Board. Linda previously served on the U.S. State Department’s Board for Overseas Schools, the Emily Couric Leadership Forum, James Madison University’s Board of Visitors and the Intelligence National Security Association Board.
The Foundation would also like to recognize the following deceased members of its Council:
Edgar M. Bronfman
Antonio J. Mendez