April 21, 2015
Founder, President; Grassfire.com
Steve Elliott is the founder and president of Grassroots Action, Inc., a privately held Web-based, direct-marketing company specializing in citizen-action services. Elliott leads a talented team of strategic communicators and Internet specialists behind Grassfire.com, a million-strong network of grassroots Americans dedicated to the ideals of liberty and limited government. He's also co-founder of the news and grassroots-services entities LibertyNEWS.com and Patriot Action Network., which reach approximately three million people every month.
A 1994 graduate of Regent University's Robertson School of Government, Elliott's more than two decades of public policy and communications experience have made him a true leader and innovator in the field of Internet activism services. A gifted and prolific writer, his new book Grit To Win (May 2015), part three of his acclaimed "Thriving" series, calls for restoring the now-politically incorrect goal of actually winning.
Elliott's other published works include High Crimes (2014), Seven Key Battles Facing America (2014), The Case To Impeach (2013), Thriving Through The Night (2013), Hidden Dangers Of ObamaCare (2013), Thriving In Exile (2012), The BOOK On Obama (2012), 21 Supreme Court Issues Facing America (2005) and The Grassfire Effect (2005).
An entrepreneur, a visionary leader and an Internet pioneer, Elliott has become a leading voice in the American grassroots movement who has appeared on FOX News, CNN and CNBC and been interviewed by Neil Cavuto, Sean Hannity, Alan Colmes, Mike Gallagher, Janet Parshall, Glenn Beck and other media personalities.
The married father of five also serves on the leadership team for Big House Church in Norfolk, Va., and he has a passion for exploring how music, images and messaging can help us in our day and time to understand and interface with God and His kingdom.
February 24, 2015
Founder of Auntie Anne's Pretzels, Author
Anne Beiler began twisting pretzels in 1987 to support her husband's vision to offer free counseling services in their community. What began as a single farmer's market stand grew into Auntie Anne's Inc., the world's largest hand rolled soft pretzel franchise with over 1,200 locations worldwide. Beiler is among an elite group of women that have founded national companies in America, and is one of an even smaller number that have owned an international franchise company.
Beiler's journey to become a leading female entrepreneur began many years before the first pretzel was rolled. In September of 1975, Beiler and her husband experienced any parent's worst nightmare—the loss of a child. This event propelled Beiler into years of darkness during which she nearly lost her husband, her family and her faith. Out of her pain came purpose and the desire to persevere towards personal and professional success.
Beiler's vision to serve, inspire and give has been recognized multiple times. She was named one of America's 500 women entrepreneurs by Working Women and Entrepreneur of the Year by Inc. Magazine. Beiler's entrepreneurial insights and personal story have been featured on national television shows including Secret Millionaire, The Oprah Winfrey Show, Good Morning America, ANDERSON, The 700 Club and The Joyce Meyers Show. She has been featured in Fortune Magazine, Guidepost, Nation's Restaurant News and Christianity Today. Beiler has also received honorary doctorates from Eastern College and Elizabethtown College.
Auntie Anne Beiler's commitment to excellence is rooted in the belief that we give to get, to give again; and that success can only be realized when you have a great product, great people on your team and a purpose greater than yourself.
In 2005, Beiler sold Auntie Anne's and authored Twist of Faith, a revealing look at the inner workings of her life while building an international corporation. Today, she is a highly sought after public speaker inspiring audiences around the world. She lives in Texas with her husband Jonas. They are parents to two daughters, both married, and proud grandparents to four grandchildren.
March 5, 2015
South Hampton Roads Mayors Forum
Will Sessoms - Virginia Beach, Kenny Wright - Portsmouth, Alan Krasnoff - Chesapeake, Paul Fraim - Norfolk, and Linda Johnson - Suffolk
William Sessoms began his political career in 1988 as a member of the City Council. A Virginia Beach native, he was appointed Vice Mayor in 1992 by his fellow council members. In 2008, Sessoms was elected mayor of Virginia Beach. He was appointed by two Virginia governors to serve on the state’s Public School Authority, the Local Health Benefits Advisory Committee and the Governor’s Commission on Environmental Stewardship. He contributes his time to the Virginia Beach Foundation, the Neptune Festival, the Volunteer Rescue Squad Foundation, the Virginia Beach Central Business District Association, Virginia Beach Vision, Eastern Virginia Medical School, the Back Bay Wildfowl Guild, and the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center.
Kenneth Wright was elected mayor of Portsmouth in 2010. He is the president and CEO of Wright’s Engineering, which was founded in 2000. Wright has served on the City of Portsmouth Finance Committee and as the Chairman of the Portsmouth Schools Foundation. He has served as a member of the Portsmouth Partnership and the Portsmouth City Retirement Board. He has also served as President of Norfolk State University School of Technology Advisory Board; President of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers; and as Chairman of the Starbase Victory S.T.E.M. Program for Portsmouth Public Schools. Born and raised in Portsmouth, Wright is a graduate of Woodrow Wilson High School and Old Dominion University.
Alan Krasnoff served on Chesapeake’s City Council for five consecutive terms since 1990 and was elected mayor in 2008. He previously served as Director of the Chesapeake Juvenile Advisory Board. Krasnoff has been a member of the Hampton Roads Planning and District Commission, Metropolitan Planning Organization and Chesapeake Planning Commission. Dr. Krasnoff has a master’s degree in urban education and counseling from Norfolk State University and has worked as a high school guidance counselor. He is also involved in the Virginia School Counselor Association, Hampton Roads School Counselor Association and Virginia Counseling Association. He has operated a chiropractic practice in Chesapeake for many years.
Paul Fraim has been a member of Norfolk City Council since 1986 and has served as mayor of Norfolk since 1994. He is president of the law firm Fraim and Fiorella, P.C., which was established in 1977. He is a member of the Virginia State Bar and the Norfolk-Portsmouth Bar Association. A Norfolk native, Fraim’s leadership extends into many other organizations, including the Hampton Roads Partnership, Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance and TowneBank Board of Directors. In 2004, the Hampton Roads Maritime Association presented him with its "Port Champion" award. In 2007, he was presented the “Bishop’s Humanitarian Award” by Catholic Charities of Eastern Virginia and the “A Home for Every American Award,” a national honor given by the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness.
Linda Johnson was appointed mayor by her colleagues on Suffolk’s City Council in 2006. She was sworn in as the city’s first directly elected mayor in 2009. She currently serves on the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission and as the Chair of the Hampton Roads Mayors Chair Caucus. Mayor Johnson has been a member of the Circle of Excellence of the Board of Realtors since 1987 and is also a member of the National Association of Realtors. In 2010, she joined Prudential Towne Realty after nearly 25 years in the real estate field. Previously, Johnson served as the public information officer for the State Corporation Commission in Richmond and as an eligibility officer for the Suffolk Department of Social Services.