The Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce has inducted 10 persons as its 2020 class for the Hall of Fame.
The hall was created to recognize leaders who have influenced change locally. The initiative was the brain-child of Jeff Mitchell, founder of Mitchell Law in 2019 and former chamber board member. The work was started on the project in February, only to be interrupted by the pandemic.
“These people are changemakers in our community,” Mitchell said. “Some people may have watched and laughed as they continued toward their goals. Many of these leaders were disrupters who have changed the way we look at business here or have changed our beliefs. It is only fitting that we find a way to celebrate their contributions.”
Aaron Harris-Kirby, 2020 chamber board chair, said about the Hall of Fame, “We want to pause to recognize those people who have changed our community. Jeff Mitchell was the catalyst in this initiative, but to our board, it was important for us to understand the human DNA that makes our community unique in Southwest Virginia. We recognized Coach Frank Beamer for his leadership prowess, which turned a sleepy little team into a football giant pumping millions of dollars into our local economy. We recognized Debbie Shermann-Lee, whose dedication to social justice is constant, but her work to recognize and support the Christiansburg Institute is a lifetime achievement. We are recognizing others whose work helped make us who we are today. We are appreciative of Jeff Mitchell’s vision and sponsorship that made this happen.”
The 2020 inductees to the Community Hall of Fame are Joe Meredith, Ph.D., former CEO of the Corporate Research Center; Debbie Sherman-Lee, chair of the board of directors and an alumna of Christiansburg Institute, Inc.; Vinod Chachra, Ph.D., former chairman and CEO of VTLS Inc.; Borman Fitzwater, franchise owner of A Cleaner World, retired and a former Hokie Club President; Jeanne Stosser, President of SAS Builders and Campus Management Group (CMG); Frank Beamer, retired Virginia Tech football coach; Raymond Smoot, Ph.D., CEO of the Virginia Tech Foundation, Emeritus and Chairman of Atlantic Union Bank; Janaka Casper, CEO of Community Housing Partners (CHP); and Tommy McDearis, Dmin, senior pastor at Blacksburg Baptist Church.
The actual wall will be dedicated later in the fall using appropriate protocols.