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Outcomes Report: NextGen Southern Virginia Cohort

Learn about the curriculum, impact, and next steps of the Southern VA NextGen Cohort at the 2020 Virtual Cities Rising Summit

Charlottesville, Va. (December 3, 2020) – Over the course of September and October, 13 emerging leaders from the Dan River Region in Southern Virginia convened around ideas and solutions to move the region through and beyond the Covid-19 pandemic as a companion program to the 2020 Cities Rising Summit.

Cohort members attended thematic sessions throughout the Summit and participated in facilitated debriefs to build relationships, develop leadership skills, and inspire ideas and solutions for their day-to-day work—with the overarching goal to help prepare the next generation of leaders from the Dan River Region to lead from any seat.


The cohort curriculum was designed in collaboration with cohort members and organizers. Facilitated conversations bookended the Summit and followed these select sessions:


The 2020 Southside Cohort experience was an invaluable networking and community-building opportunity for participants. Connections formed during the program proved meaningful and long-lasting.

  • "What this did for me was help facilitate my ability to connect with people. A lot of us are involved in different silos where we’re working, so it was a good opportunity to meet different people and find out what their areas of expertise and areas of involvement are.” – Steven Osborne, Attorney, Fisk & Gregory, PLC

The program gave participants the chance not only to expand their network, but to think critically about how to leverage contacts and resources to help people and projects within—and outside of—the cohort.

  • “Cohorts unearth people who have the energy and will to work across boundaries. Often, these are not the usual suspects.” — Mary Trigiani, Celebrated Advisor and Management Consultant; 2020 Southside Cohort Facilitator

Facilitated debriefs and established group dynamics held participants accountable to apply what they learned in Summit sessions, often in a way they wouldn’t have otherwise been encouraged to do.

  • "A lot of times, you go into things and you learn but then you lose it. For me, because we were having a real conversation, I took notes to hit on follow-ups. That was really important." – Shani Gaylord, Director of Community Programs, Piedmont Access to Health Services, Inc.

Outcomes & Next Steps

Feedback indicated that cohort participants are eager to act on insights and connections gathered as a part of the program. The Tom Tom Foundation would like to encourage cohort members to activate ideas generated and would be excited to devote resources to the tracking of and reporting on those ideas, especially through the 2021 NextGen Southern Virginia Alumni Program.

Potential next steps and action items determined by the cohort in facilitated debrief sessions are detailed below:

  • Goal: Bridge the disconnect between local government leaders and the reality of living situations in the community.

    • Action: Organize Meet & Greets between government leaders and the community at-large.

      • Increase awareness of justice issues by convening Chief of Police, Judges, & Commonwealth’s Attorney.

      • Increase collaboration in healthcare by convening--through The Health Collaborative--City Council, Healthcare Providers, & Community Health Workers.

  • Goal: De-silo conversations around criminal justice, healthcare, and education by including more people from different areas of expertise.

    • Action: Leverage local event spaces as an avenue to community connectivity.

      • Potential Contacts:

        • Bryant Hood (City Council)

        • Garrett Schifflet (Developer)

        • Jess Edwards (Entrepreneur Ecosystem Builder)

        • River District Association

    • Action: Organize meetings between potential partner organizations.

      • Potential Asset: Community member service-providers database (in progress via Chamber)

    • Action: Facilitate conversations with community members to ensure that mirror efforts aren’t being made. Aim to help with efforts already underway instead of “reinventing the wheel.”

  • Goal: Continue networking efforts with each other, one-on-one or in small groups, and support cohort members by attending their scheduled meetings.

    • Action: Support programs in progress within the cohort.

      • Pass the Perspective (Shani)

      • LGBTQ+ Liaison to Police Department (Liz)

      • Community Immersion Training for Police Officers (Alexis)

      • Project Imagine

      • Signature Chamber events with facilitated debrief sessions

    • Action: Cultivate alumni program/meet-ups for 2020 Cohort at 2021 Tom Tom programs.

      • Race & Equity in the Workplace (March/April 2021)

  • Goal: Explore the development of a Youth Collaborative program that would teach key life skills (taxes, interviews, nutrition, etc) and emphasize technical careers, STEM skills, entrepreneurship, and healthcare opportunities.

    • Action: Contact Annie Martinie (The Health Collaborative).

    • Action: Revitalize local Summer Youth Employment program. Include interested cohort members in existing work in the space.

    • Sub-Goal: Create a pipeline for POC doctors/nurses and increase trust in the healthcare system.

      • Action: Coordinate doctor/nurse visits to public schools.

      • Action: Advocate for more local Bachelor/Masters programs in nursing.

  • Goal: Expand broadband access in the region.

    • Action: Organize a “Citizen’s Broadband Group”.

    • Action: Research Caswell County initiative.

  • Goal: Mine data to inform local decision-making.

    • Action: Contact MGT Consulting Group (Albemarle County Report).


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