Stewart recognized in ‘Top Forty’ list

Published 9:53 pm Thursday, October 31, 2013

By Stephen Cowles

The Tidewater News

In Rhonda Stewart’s view, the board of directors took a chance when they hired her as executive director of The Village at Woods Edge, a retirement community in Franklin.

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That was in the summer of 2008. Five years later, that gamble continues to pay off. Not only has Stewart, 35, remained as the leader, she’s also the inspiration for the memory care center, which is under construction.

All of this apparently merited not only a nomination, but also recognition as one of the latest Top Forty under Forty in the Hampton Roads region. Men and women are selected annually by Inside Business, a regional publication, with TowneBank as the presenting sponsor.

Stewart was the only Suffolk person to be recognized.

Theresa Beale, executive director of the Franklin-Southampton Area Chamber of Commerce, nominated both Stewart and Amanda Jarratt, president and chief executive officer of the Franklin-Southampton Economic Development Inc.

“They’re both very outstanding individuals,” Beale said.

“Both serve on our Chamber board. We’ve gotten to know them very well, and we respect both of them for the positive impact they’ve made on our community through their careers and their personal lives. We’re just real proud of both of them and enjoy working with them through the chamber.”

Stewart was moved by the recognition.

“This is a huge honor and completely unexpected,” she said. “I’m humbled to be a part of that group. I appreciate it.

She and her husband, Steve Stewart, who is the publisher of the Suffolk News-Herald, and their two dogs, Asa and Lucy, moved to Suffolk earlier this year.

Stewart’s other activities include serving on the board of directors for the Chamber of Commerce; secretary of the Bronco Federal Credit Union; and funding chairwoman of the Franklin Rotary Club. In the past, she’s served on the Western Tidewater Free Clinic’s board of directors.

As executive director at the Village at Woods Edge, Stewart is responsible for overseeing strategic planning, marketing and budgeting for the community.