Laura Lacy Hamilton
The founding Executive Director of Lynchburg Beacon of Hope is Laura Lacy Hamilton. Initially charged with building the structure, research, Board of Directors and 501c3 organizational status in 2011, Laura naturally merged into the role of Executive Director in 2012, as the first Future Centers in the Commonwealth of Virginia opened in the Lynchburg City Schools. Laura’s strengths include ten years as Chairperson of the City of Lynchburg Planning Commission (2004-2014), decades of public policy work in Lynchburg and the District of Columbia, a Masters degree in Public Policy from Georgetown University, and an undergraduate degree from The College of William and Mary. Her strength in recent years has been a command of the dynamics of the public/nonprofit partnership that has evolved between Lynchburg City Schools and the Beacon of Hope and a strategic vision for the first Promise Program in Virginia. For the last 15 years, Laura served the Lynchburg community through various roles Lynchburg City Schools PTOs, on the Board of Directors for Centra Health, on the Board of Directors for the Family Alliance and Presbyterian Homes, and as a former president of the Junior League of Lynchburg. In 2008, Laura was named as the top 20 change-makers in Lynchburg under the age of 40.
Director of Fund Development
Joan Foster is a graduate of Lynchburg College and holds three degrees (B.A., MAT and MEd) in Elementary and Early Childhood Education, as well as Special Education. She currently holds the position of Director of Development with Lynchburg Beacon of Hope, an organization which strives to instill in ALL Lynchburg City Public School students the aspiration to pursue AND attain a post-secondary education.
Joan was elected in 2002 to Lynchburg City Council as the At Large Member. She is presently serving on Council and served two years as Vice Mayor and six years as Mayor (July, 2004 – June 30, 2012).
The first female Mayor of the City, during her tenure as Mayor, Joan advocated for or led the following initiatives:
- Dialogue on Race and Racism(Lynchburg Beacon of Hope originated from this initiative)
- Pre-school literacy initiative (The Amazing Mayor’s Book Race handed out more than 2500 books to elementary school students)
- Live Healthy Lynchburg (www.LiveHealthyLynchburg.com), a challenged she issued to the community to lose 12 tons in 2012, which they did by summer of 2012, she continues to work on this initiative tackling childhood and adult obesity)
- Joan loves both of her jobs because each help our community become a better place to live, work and play!
Joan’s advice to public school students, “Go for your dreams, never give up, work hard, stay focused, and ask Beacon of Hope for assistance to make your dreams of post-secondary education a reality.”
Director of Strategy and Programs
Director of Operations
Director of College Success
Leidra McQueen is the new Director of College Success for Lynchburg Beacon of Hope. Leidra began her time with Lynchburg Beacon of Hope as a Future Center Director at Heritage High School. Leidra is a graduate of Heritage High School and the University of Virginia, where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology. Leidra is a former member of the University of Virginia’s College Advising Corps, where she assisted hundreds of students and families through the college admissions and financial aid process in Martinsville, VA. After her tenure with the University of Virginia, she transitioned to the University of South Carolina’s TRIO programs in Columbia, SC. There she continued her work in college access and student development. Ultimately, her passion for student access and success in higher education for students in her hometown brought Leidra back to Virginia in 2013. Through Beacon of Hope, Leidra hopes to contribute to true community transformation and irreversible impact in Lynchburg City. Mrs. McQueen can be reached through her email or at (434) 941 – 3145.
CVCC Future Center Director
Rachel Madigan began her time with Lynchburg Beacon of Hope as the Director of Programs and Operations. Rachel now has transitioned into the new role of Central Virginia Community College Future Center Director. Rachel moved to Lynchburg in 2009 and has served as a teacher in the Lynchburg City Schools for the past 6 years. She received her undergraduate degree at California Polytechnic School, Pomona in Hospitality Management and her Master’s Degree from Hope International University in Education. Rachel also has multiple years of experience working with high school students as a youth leader. She has a sincere passion for students and helping them in their educational success.
Heidi Vande Hoef
Future Center Director – E. C. Glass High School
Heidi VandeHoef is the Future Center Director at E.C. Glass High School. Heidi’s robust college access background was honed in the four years she worked for the National Football Foundation’s Play It Smart Program and the University of Virginia as an Instructional Assistant. Through Play it Smart, Heidi helped to launch hundreds of students to college in Charlottesville and Buckingham Public Schools. Heidi (or Ms. V. as the students call her) continued her urban college/career access work planning and administering the National Football League’s HS Player Development program across the Southeast and was recently named as one of six professionals nationwide for the NCAA HS Advisory Group. Additionally, Heidi consults with the AthLife Foundation and is a member of the Bryan-Wade Fund Board of Directors at E.C. Glass.
Ms. V. completed her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Spanish at Liberty University, Master’s degree in Education with the University of Virginia and the University of Minnesota, and is pursuing her doctoral degree in Educational Leadership. Ms. VandeHoef can be reached at (434) 661 – 8144.
Future Center Director – Heritage High School
Shomari Dixon is the new Future Center Director at Heritage High School. Though he was born in Brooklyn, New York, it was in Rochester, New York where he discovered a passion for life coaching. He participated in non-for-profit organizations developing young men, and women, through meetings at churches, after school programs, and sport leagues. He earned his Masters in School Counseling while working for Liberty University as an Academic Advisor in Lynchburg, VA. In the Academic Advising office he assisted thousands of students on how to efficiently complete their desired degree program, and guided students how to be financially literate as they paid for college. Through Beacon of Hope, Shomari plans to prepare high school students to thrive in their post-secondary endeavors as he educates them on how to decide what career is for them, what avenues to pursue depending on their desired field of study, and how to successfully excel in their preferred path.
Mari Normyle, Chairperson
Student Success Consultant, Ruffalo Noel Levitz
Gloria Preston, Vice Chair
Retired Educator (Lynchburg City Schools); Community Volunteer
Kelly Shuptrine, Secretary
CFO, BMS Direct, Inc.
Wes Fugate, Immediate Past Chair
Dean of Students, Randolph College
Terry Brennan, MD
Developmental Pediatric Physician
Dan Carey, MD, Honorary Board Member
Virginia Secretary of Health and Human Services
President, Central Virginia Community College
H. David Cox
Principal, Cox Law Group
Mary Jane Dolan
Vice Mayor, City of Lynchburg
Retired Educator (Bedford Co. Schools); Community Volunteer
Independent Nationwide Insurance Agent, Holloway Insurance Agency
Mary Ann Hoss
Northwestern Mutual Financial Network
Former School Board Chair
Hylan (Hank) Hubbard
Retired educator, Lynchburg City Schools
Retired Educator (Amherst Co. Schools); Community Volunteer
Mary Jane Pryor
Innovative Wireless Technologies
Founder New Vistas School; Community Volunteer
CPA, Brown Edwards
General Counsel, Genworth Financial
Shannon Valentine, Honorary Board Member
Virginia Secretary of Transportation
Vice President, Scott Insurance