Local women inspire and impress as they do their jobs and serve our community

Rhonda Howlett Carroll
Founder/Principal Broker, Clocktower Realty Group


Your biggest accomplishment? We started Clocktower as a small brokerage in 2017, and now have over 60 of the most genuine, hard-working, incredible agents. We owe our success to them. A lack of insurance options for real estate agents led us to implement the first group health plans in Central Virginia, possibly the state, for 1099 agents and their families.   

How important is community involvement? My parents always said, if you look out for people around you, you'll always be OK, and it’s true. We enjoy helping the community – we’ve done everything from making meals for the homeless to rebuilding a porch for a disabled veteran. It’s a great way to get together as a company and give back.

Best advice ever gotten or given? We always say, “Go big or go home." That’s our unofficial company slogan. If you’re going to do something, knock it out of the park, or don’t bother.

What do you do for fun? I grew up in a small town on the Bay and love being on the water. I love traveling and spending time with my amazing family and English bulldog, Hank. 

Emily Alwood
EmmiClaire Photography


What was your first published photo? A total surprise! It was a landscape I’d taken while living and teaching on Dominica, in the Caribbean, published in a local news outlet. This built my confidence and led to my launching my photography business part-time on Dominica and then full-time in the States.

What’s your philosophy of community business? I took the approach of community over competition, because we should support and bring out the best in one another. During this coronavirus crisis, I support the community by staying home and ordering delivery services to help small businesses, as I know firsthand the struggles of small business ownership right now. I've also volunteered with local nonprofits to provide event photography.

Biggest lesson learned, best advice? Ask yourself if you're passionate about what you do. If not, change it. Also, advocate for yourself and ask for help. It’s OK if you haven’t figured everything out. It’s OK to leave a job to pursue your passion. I did!

How do you balance work and private life? What's fun? I used to hustle non-stop. Now I don’t have the urge to answer emails right away. I’m a nature lover so I like hiking with my husband, Ben, and dog, Tux, snapping photos of the views around me.

Kimberly R. Ligatti & Mary Farr-Maynard 
Co-Owners, Legacy School of Dance


How should we support our community in stressful times? This is a time to remain calm and keep a sense of humor. We have a lot of little eyes watching us to see how we react. It’s also time to share from your abundance. We've been privileged to perform at assisted living facilities, church events and the Virginia Dance Festival, which benefits the Children’s Hospital Foundation. We’ve also partnered with Girl Scouts to provide a year of dance for underprivileged youth.

How do you balance work and personal life? This is probably the most difficult piece. Legacy is a huge part of our lives. It’s family to us. The work doesn’t always feel like work.  

Your favorite relaxation? We love adventure, new experiences and places. We travel within the USA and see what our country has to offer. And we love to incorporate dance as we travel.

Brenda White
General Manager, Chesterfield County Fair


How can we cope in trying times? It's imperative that we all come together as a united front. We must exercise patience and understanding as well as kindness, like offering to help our elderly – even just checking their mail.

Best advice for others? I'm a huge believer that the "best" qualified person gets the job.  If that means that you have to work twice as hard, then DO IT! 

How do you balance work and personal life? I'm lucky I can work from home. Down time is necessary, but I admit I'm the type who never really turns the Fair "off." We hope everyone is safe and healthy and able to join us at the Fair Aug. 28-Sept. 7!

Your favorite relaxation? My go-to is Lake Gaston. I go with my fiance, Robert, my son, Travis, and his wife, Nicole, my dog, Ally, and my grand-dogs, Wrigley and Charlie. 

RJ Lewis
Digital Strategist, RJ Lewis Digital


How do you contribute to our community? I help small businesses optimize their online customer experience. When the pandemic hit, I saw an opportunity to help because many businesses have only a rudimentary online presence.  One thing I admired about that time was how people supported one another personally and professionally, investing in local commerce and volunteering.  So I did my part by offering free and discounted custom strategic plans for businesses affected by COVID-19 that wanted help devising more virtual solutions.

Best lesson learned? Know your worth and the value you provide. Money is a renewable resource. Time isn't. I became an entrepreneur so I could spend time with my growing family and still make a good living, then promptly started working all the time.  Turns out I'm in charge of my schedule!

So how do you find balance? I carefully plan my day - employing time blocking and Pomodoro techniques to protect the time I have for all my needs, like family dinner, clients, and time to just be.

Best advice you've gotten or given? Being a solopreneur is a myth. Invest in people whose strengths complement your weaknesses. Doing so promotes business and personal growth.

Your biggest indulgence? I'm a sucker for Edy's Espresso Chip and a good book.

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