By Tim Ryan

Last week, our region lost a leader. Dan Bell was the Vice Chairman of Innovate Hampton Roads and a true visionary for our region. Before joining the Innovate Hampton Roads board, he served as the Chairman of the Hampton Roads Innovation Collaborative, which, largely due to Dan’s leadership, merged with StartWheel to create Innovate Hampton Roads as we know it today.

Anyone that had the privilege to work with Dan knows how much he cared about the success and future of this region. From Tech Tuesdays to his monthly meetups and our quarterly BIZWHEEL Expos (now rebranded to Innovate Hampton Roads Venture Out), Dan brought people together to celebrate the region.

I remember all the times when Dan stayed late at our monthly and quarterly meetups, discussing ideas with attendees, sharing his insights, and fostering a sense of community. He truly believed in the potential of every individual and encouraged them to pursue their dreams.

Take a moment and think about the select people that directly impacted the trajectory of your career path. Chances are, only a couple of people will stand out. Dan was one of those people in my career. For that, I’ll be forever grateful to Dan and his generosity of time and knowledge.

Now that you’ve thought about who has impacted your career, in honor of Dan, please take a moment and let them know that they impacted your career and thank them. I also ask that you continue to give back to others and help shape someone else’s career. That was part of Dan’s vision for this region, and we can continue to carry on that vision.

Let us remember Dan’s legacy and continue supporting the region he loved dearly. Dan once said, “When we work together, there’s no limit to what our region can achieve.” Let us embody that spirit and keep pushing for a brighter future for Hampton Roads.

Dan, your smile, positive attitude, and endless energy will always be remembered. Thank you for all you did for our region; you will be missed.

A Celebration of Life will be held Sunday, September 24 from 2-5 pm at the Rose Garden Room at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens.

In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to the American Cancer Society, PO BOX 6704, Hagerstown, MD 21741. Please feature “Metastatic Bone Disease” on the memo line.