Chamber Honors Regional Volunteers

Chamber Honors Regional Volunteers

Annually, the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce honors volunteers in the region for their accomplishments and contributions.  This year, the Chamber will recognize six outstanding volunteers during our Annual Meeting of the Membership on December 11. Read more about event.

The Marian P. Whitehurst Women in Leadership Award, created in 2009, will be presented to a woman who exemplifies professional excellence, community service, and assistance to women in their professional development and leadership. This year’s award winner is Dr. Nancy Welch, Director of the Chesapeake Health Department, and Acting Director of the Western Tidewater Health Department. Dr. Welch has served as a public health director in Virginia since 1976.  She participates in many community and volunteer organizations such as Chesapeake Mayor’s Task Force on Poverty, Tidewater Medical Women’s Association, ODU College of Health Sciences, Smart Beginnings, and was a founding member of the Comprehensive Health Investment Project (CHIP).  Dr. Welch has dedicated her entire career to the health and well-being of others, not just in the region, but around the world.

A Division Leadership Award will be presented to an individual in each of the five Southside cities, to recognize his/her volunteer service and commitment to the community. The main purpose of this award is to recognize and honor a volunteer who sets a standard for making service a central part of their lives for the betterment of individuals and the community. This year’s award recipients are:

Hampton Roads Chamber Chesapeake Division Leadership Award
Shirley Forbes
Owner, Virginia Consultants, LLC

Since 2011, Shirley Forbes has volunteered to serve as Chairperson for the Bra-ha-ha, an annual event which raises funds to help the Chesapeake Regional Breast Center support all forms of breast health.  She personally solicits event sponsorships, donations and silent auction items and serves as a spokesperson for the event.  Forbes is also an active member of the Central Chesapeake Republican Women’s Club. 

Hampton Roads Chamber Norfolk Division Leadership Award

Dawna L. Ellis
Chief Financial Officer, Harvey Linsday Commercial Real Estate
Dawna Ellis’s professional achievements and volunteer service is impressive and shows her dedication to the Hampton Roads community.  Ellis donates her efforts to VOLUNTEER Hampton Roads, the Virginia Martial Arts Center, Kuniba Kai International, the USA National Karate Federation.   She also teaches Sunday School at Alliance Church in Portsmouth.  Ellis has served on the Board of LEAD Hampton Roads and volunteered with FOR Kids. 

Hampton Roads Chamber Portsmouth Division Leadership Award
Raymond Joseph

With more than 45 years of volunteer service, Raymond Joseph reminds us we can all make a difference.  Joseph currently volunteers with the Hampton Roads Chamber’s Portsmouth Division.  In addition, Joseph served on the Portsmouth Museum Foundation.  His dedication and volunteer efforts with the Portsmouth Chamber date back to 1968. 

Hampton Roads Chamber Suffolk Division Leadership Award
Betsy Bagnell Totten
Vice President, TowneBank Greenbrier

Betsy Totten has excelled in her career, but is also committed to volunteering her time.  She is dedicated to her community and has taken on leadership positions for a variety of organizations such as the Suffolk Rotary Club, Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts, Suffolk 60 Care, Suffolk-Nansemond Historical Society, the United Way and TowneBank Foundation.

Hampton Roads Chamber Virginia Beach Division Leadership Award
Mary C. Russo
Director (Volunteer), Office of Volunteer Resources, City of Virginia Beach
Mary Russo has dedicated her life to serving her community and in 1978 founded the Virginia Beach Office of Volunteer Resources.  As the only volunteer Director with the City of Virginia Beach, Mary takes her role very seriously.  Last year, the Office of Volunteer Resources saved $20 million in savings in annual labor costs to the city’s tax payers.  More than 30 city departments and services look to Russo for guidance, leadership and innovative ideas to grow their volunteer programs.