Richmond, VA /Virginia Business/ – Black History Month traces its origins to an annual weeklong observance started in 1926 by historian and scholar Carter G. Woodson, a Virginia native. And since then, the February celebration of Black history makers and events has been intertwined with commemorating successful business icons like fellow Virginia-born greats Maggie Walker and Booker T. Washington.
With this in mind, Virginia Business presents our 2023 Virginia Black Business Leaders Awards, recognizing a reader-nominated group of some of the state’s most accomplished Black executives. On this inaugural list are 17 leaders, chosen from 108 nominated executives in finance, federal contracting, higher education, law, technology and other sectors. Our editorial team selected the 17 winners, scoring nominations based on factors including overall professional achievement, community impact and mentoring.
Chandra Briggman, President and CEO, Activation Capital, Richmond – The leader since 2020 of a Richmond-based innovation incubator that includes a biotech park, startup development and a newly invigorate
d cluster accelerator for pharmaceutical research and manufacturing, Briggman is off to a fast start. Growing up in a town of 2,000 in rural South Carolina, she was inspired by her parents to pursue innovation.
“Neither one of my parents had the opportunity to go to college,” Briggman says. “I consider them two of the smartest people I know. They were doers and experimenters, and that foundation was important.”
After college, Briggman worked for the U.S. Postal Service, where she learned about the intersection of service and technology, then for a Boston nonprofit promoting entrepreneurship. At Activation Capital, her role is “to manufacture entrepreneurs at scale,” she says — including recently landing a $53 million federal grant to expand manufacturing and development of pharmaceuticals in the Richmond region.
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