VT - People
VT Alpha Mentors
Richard T. Crowder
Richard T. Crowder is an adjunct professor in Virginia Tech's Agricultural and Applied Economics Department and senior executive with extensive experience in both the private and public sectors, on a domestic and international scale. Formerly, he served the Office of the United States Trade Representative as the ambassador and chief agricultural negotiator responsible for conducting all agricultural trade negotiations worldwide. Richard was also the president and chief executive officer of an 800 member company-strong agricultural trade association; an advisor for companies in the agricultural, medical and technology industries; and senior vice president international for a leading agricultural genetics and seed biotechnology company. Additionally, he served as the undersecretary for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and in senior executive positions for major packaged food and restaurant companies in corporate risk management, finance, strategic planning and manufacturing and distribution. Richard has served on numerous advisory committees and corporate boards of directors. He has Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in Agricultural Economics from Virginia Tech and a Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics from Oklahoma State University.
John Emery is the founder and managing partner of Stone Circle Capital, a venture fund focused on a broad range of opportunistic investments, particularly in the leisure and hospitality industries. Formerly, John served as the chief executive officer for the nation's leading developer and operator of waterpark resorts, leading its initial public offering in 2004. He was also the president and chief operating officer of a top independent hotel management company and began his career with a leading audit, tax, consulting and financial advisory company. In 1998, John formed the Stone Circle Foundation, a nonprofit organization serving women and children in need that has committed more than $1 million to date. A Virginia Tech graduate and CPA, he serves on the Advisory Council for the Virginia Tech Pamplin College of Business and has guest lectured at Pamplin, the Amos Tuck School of Business Administration at Dartmouth College and Macalester College.
Wally Newton provides chief financial officer and business advisory services for a variety of small businesses and individuals including arranging private and public capital. He is also an adjunct professor of finance and management at Virginia Tech and formerly, filled the same position at the University of Richmond. Additionally, he served as the chief financial officer for a commercial shipyard specializing in NAVY and government contracting for six years and a 19-year career as a chief financial officer in the commercial banking industry. Wally is a member and the former chair of the Virginia Tech Pamplin College of Business Advisory Council, board member and the treasurer of the NewVa Corridor Technology Council, involved in a VT KnowledgeWorks company and co-founded the Tidewater Investors Network. He earned both his Bachelor of Science and MBA degrees from Virginia Tech.
Mike Quillen chairs the board of Alpha Natural Resources, a publicly traded natural resource company (ANR) and third-largest coal producer in the United States. Alpha was established in 2002 through the acquisition of the Virginia operations of Pittston Coal Company, Coastal Coal, Nicewonder Coal Group, the U.S. operations of American Metals and Coal International (AMCI) and ultimately, the merger with Foundation Coal. Previously, Previously, he served as the executive vice president of global operations for AMCI, executive vice president of sales and marketing and president of sales for Pittston, and in senior executive positions for other leading coal corporations. Over the course of his career, Mike has cultivated significant experience in mergers and acquisitions, financial investments, raising capital and growing companies. He is a registered professional engineer in Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia, licensed surface and underground mine foreman, and holds Master of Science and Bachelor of Science degrees in Civil Engineering, both from Virginia Tech.
Nancy Sauer is the co-owner and president of D2Xchange, a data and document management solutions provider. She has extensive experience with startup and small businesses, including serving as the vice president of business development for an asset management solutions provider and general manager for a global information solutions provider. She also managed data content, channels, distribution and high-value clients for a premier financial information and products supplier, and was instrumental in creating and bringing to market the company's first cross-division internet product. Nancy actively serves on the Advisory Boards for the Virginia Tech Grado Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, Department of Engineering Education, Residential Leadership Program and chairs the board of directors for KidsTek, a nonprofit organization dedicated to closing the technology gap for underserved K-12 students. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Engineering from Virginia Tech and MBA degree from the College of William and Mary.
Joel S. Williams
Joel S. Williams is the director of the VT Midas Institute at the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center and founder and managing principal of Joel S Williams: An Alliance of Wealth Advisors. His practice includes fee-based comprehensive and integrated wealth, business, retirement and estate planning for affluent individuals and business owners. Formerly, Joel was a professor of agricultural economics at Virginia Tech and consulted with agribusiness firms on financial management. He is a contributing author of the book, Wealth: Enhancement and Preservation and charter member of the Advisors in Philanthropy and InKnowVision. Additionally, Joel was instrumental in forming the New River Valley Economic Development Alliance and Community Foundation of the New River Valley. Also a Certified Financial Planner and Certified Investment Management Analyst from the Wharton School, Joel holds a graduate degree from Purdue University and Ph.D. in economics from the University of Florida.
Denman Zirkle is the executive director of the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation, an organization that acquires, manages and interprets Civil War battlefields in the Shenandoah Valley. In the investment management industry since 1983, he was the chief executive officer, senior vice president of marketing and executive vice president of institutional business for three global investment firms, respectively. Additionally, he was responsible for marketing and program management for a multinational information technology company. Denman is on the Advisory Council of Virginia Tech's Pamplin College of Business, board of directors of the Valley Conservation Council, and a member of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Virginia Farm Bureau, Museum of the Confederacy, World Affairs Council, Sons of Confederate Veterans, Economic Club of New York, Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities and Virginia Historical Society. He is also a trustee emeritus of Randolph-Macon Woman's College, where he served as the chairman of the investment committee, and trustee of the Civil War Preservation Trust. Denman is a graduate of Virginia Tech and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
Thomas H. Garnett III
Thomas H. Garnett III was an international trade manager for the Virginia Economic Development Partnership and the director of business development for a major power conditioning systems designer, manufacturer and supplier. He also served Southern State Cooperative in a range of executive and managerial positions, including the vice president of the feed division, international sales and corporative development, and the manager of two local cooperatives, a private-distribution truck fleet and 49 regional retail stores. Thomas is on the board of directors for the Facility Certification Institute and formerly for ACDI/VOCA, the American Feed Association, where he also chaired the international committee, and Richmond Export Import Club. Additionally, he served as the president of the Virginia Future Farmers of America Alumni Association and chairman of the Advisory Council for the Virginia Tech Pamplin College of Business. Thomas earned his Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Education from Virginia Tech.