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Tom Tom Announces Recipients of 4th Annual Founding Cville Awards

Charlottesville, VA (September 6, 2017) — The Tom Tom Founders Festival is pleased to announce the nine recipients of this year’s Founding Cville Awards, an annual project celebrating artists, entrepreneurs and civic leaders who shape Charlottesville. Starting today and continuing through the month of September, each recipient’s portrait will be featured on a lamppost banner on the Downtown Mall. Their founding story will be published in a commemorative brochure, and they will be publicly acknowledged at the Tomtoberfest block party on Friday September 22, 2017.

Lamppost banners featuring portraits of the nine recipients will be unveiled on the Downtown Mall on Wednesday, September 6 at Central Place next to The Paramount Theater, with Old Metropolitan Hall to be used as a rain venue.

The recipients are:

  1. Martin Burks III, A Founding Visionary of the Jefferson School City Center

  2. Martin Chapman, Founder, Indoor Biotechnologies

  3. Alice Handy, Founder, Investure

  4. Bebe Heiner, Founder, The Women’s Initiative

  5. John Hunter, Founder, The World Peace Game

  6. Emily Morrison, Founder, The Front Porch

  7. Michael Prichard, Founder, WillowTree & Metis Machine

  8. Larry Sabato, Founder, UVA’s Center for Politics

  9. Alison Webb, Cofounder, The Virginia Institute of Autism

“This fall, we will once again honor the local founders who have shaped this region and created positive change in Charlottesville and across the globe,” commented Paul Beyer, the Festival’s Director. “After the tragic events here in Charlottesville over these past weeks, it is essential to remember that this city has been blessed by enormously talented and community minded individuals who have spent decades building our civic, business and cultural life. The Founding Cville project will honor these pioneering investors and medical researchers and internationally lauded educators and advocates, and civic leaders who have defined Charlottesville and Albemarle.”

“No single founder could have a more relevant story than Martin Burks,” commented Beyer. “Mr. Burks led a community effort to preserve the Jefferson School, a historically segregated school for African Americans and which was the only public school to stay open during Massive Resistance in 1958. The Jefferson School now stands as a City Center and home to the African American Heritage Center. We celebrate and honor Martin’s and all the recipients’ contributions to our city.”

A public nomination process over the summer surfaced artists, civic leaders, and entrepreneurs whose endeavors have had tremendous local, national, and even global impacts. A selection committee comprised of past recipients and the Tom Tom Advisory Board selected the 2017 recipients.

In-depth interviews and the founding stories of each recipient will be featured in a commemorative brochure that will be included in the September 13th edition of C-VILLE WEEKLY. Full profiles and exclusive Founding Story interviews available online at:

Recipient Short Bios:

  1. Martin Burks III is a Charlottesville native and president of one of the longest-black-owned businesses in Virginia, Burks led a community coalition to preserve the Jefferson School and establish the African American Heritage Center. This maintained an important symbol to the black community, and an essential asset for Charlottesville.

  1. Martin Chapman is a groundbreaking researcher in the field of allergens who has impacted several global health industries over nearly three decades. In 1998, Chapman founded Indoor Biotechnologies, which has since improved the lives of tens of thousands of consumers and provided a research platform for more than 400 scientific papers. Chapman is a leading advocate for Charlottesville’s growth as a biotech hub.

  1. Alice Handy founded Investure in 2003, after decades leading the University of Virginia’s endowment. The fund has become a leader in endowment and foundation investments, with $13 billion under management with some of the nation’s premier institutions. Handy is a female pioneer in the investment industry, and is recognized locally as a mentor.

  1. Bebe Heiner founded The Women’s Initiative out of a desire to provide vital mental health care, social support and education services to women in our community. Since 2007, it has served over 15,000 women in Charlottesville and Albemarle.

  1. John Hunter designed the World Peace Game: a hands-on, geopolitical simulation that engages children of all ages with highly charged diplomatic problem solving. Since its founding in 1978, the game has inspired an international award-winning documentary, and impacted thousands of  children from across the globe.

  1. Emily Morrison established The Front Porch, a roots music school dedicated to the education and promotion of traditional cultural art forms, fostering creativity, cultural exchange, and community wide learning.

  1. Michael Prichard was an early leader in the Charlottesville tech startup scene. He founded WillowTree Apps in 2008, and contributed to an industry of local designers and developers with national clients like the NBA, Pepsi, and HBO. His newest venture, Metis Machine, is set to pioneer the accessibility of data science and machine learning across multiple industry sectors.

  1. Larry Sabato has taught and inspired over 20,000 students over four decades. In 1998 he founded the Center for Politics to encourage citizens to become more engaged in politics and government, which in turn has garnered two Emmy awards and acclaim as one of the top political analysts in the nation.

  1. Alison Webb cofounded the Virginia Institute of Autism in 1996 to help educate her own children, and  has since  pioneered a local, national, and international understanding of autism. The Institute now serves hundreds of families per year in Charlottesville, and is a recognized teaching model for the autism community.

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The Tom Tom Foundation is a nonprofit organization that celebrates entrepreneurs, civic leaders, and creators who are shaping cities and communities across the nation. Tom Tom’s signature event is a weeklong festival of ideas and culture that takes place in Charlottesville, Virginia, each April in conjunction with Thomas Jefferson’s birthday. This cross discipline, multi-venue experience transforms the historic downtown and empowers the innovators, who are envisioning a brighter future. Since its inception in 2012, the Foundation’s Spring and Fall programming has showcased over 700 speakers and 280 bands to 172,000 program attendees, and has channeled $2.8 million to new ventures and projects. Learn more:



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