From INSIDE BUSINESS By Amanda MacDaiarmid

Nancy L. Grden (Amanda MacDiarmid/Freelance)

StartWheel is thrilled to see that two of our board members were featured in Inside Business’ “Women in Business”. The first that was recognized was Nancy Grden. Thank you, Nancy, for all that you do in our region.

At work: I lead Old Dominion University’s programs to support and expand entrepreneurship and innovation at ODU and in the community. In a related activity, I head the regional maritime innovation initiative — the Hampton Roads Maritime Collaborative for Growth & Innovation. Every day is a different day for opportunities and “connecting the dots” among innovators!

Volunteer activities: I am an entrepreneur, so my activities to give back include: chair, 757 Collab; immediate past chair, 757 Angels; board member/executive committee member and company adviser/mentor — Norfolk Innovation Corridor, StartWheel, 757 Accelerate, Envision Lead Grow, Women in Venture, Kempsville High School Entrepreneurship & Business Academy, The Norfolk Forum, Healthier 757, plus organizations outside of the 757.

Home and family: Pittsburgh is my hometown, with many family members in that area! The 757 is my “adopted home” after a transfer from Atlanta when I was with predecessor banks to Bank of America, and living in various U.S. cities before. My longtime partner and regional leader, Bill Rueger, passed away over two years ago from frontotemporal dementia, an experience and challenge as a caregiver I never expected and share learning with others.

Motivating factor: Leading “tectonic plate” opportunities that may defy current belief, yet can result in great impacts.

Advice for women in business: Step in/lean in! Take every opportunity to try a new skill, meet diverse people, test your leadership abilities. My career has been built on health care and biotech innovation, yet I jumped at the chance to lead the maritime initiatives in the region and ODU, translating parallel experience plus “connecting dots” across an array of ideas and people.

How the coronavirus pandemic has affected my work: As for many, work continued, just in a new and virtual way, both at ODU and for entrepreneurs. It presented challenges for small and minority-owned businesses, yet many cities in our region stepped up to offer programs and financing to support and grow these companies, which have continued to expand.

The one thing I would change about Hampton Roads: Embrace and market our maritime and “all things water” region! As I say every day, no region in the country has our unique mix of assets and opportunities to drive economic development for our region, commonwealth and country — Navy, port, international shipping companies, new offshore wind industry, shipbuilding and repair, trans-Atlantic cables, NASA and Wallops Island, Jefferson Lab, coastal resilience (as an opportunity, not a barrier) and not to mention ODU’s new maritime initiative to be globally recognized in this arena.

Professional goal in five years: Seeing the many diverse founders and entrepreneurs I am fortunate to support/work with prosper and grow! (You each know who you are!)

Downtime: Imagining the book(s) and blogs I have yet to write.

What really gets under my skin: Repetition (and more) repetition …