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Tom Tom honors local founders

Published on Cville Tomorrow

Tom Tom honors local founders and innovators

Nine artists, civic leaders and entrepreneurs in the Charlottesville area have been selected by the Tom Tom Founders Festival as winners of the 2015 Founding Cville award.

Since 2012 Tom Tom has held a multiday festival in April, coinciding with Thomas Jefferson’s birthday, that celebrates art, music and innovation. A fall block party kicks off each year’s programming.

“It’s a festival about founding and about how creative projects and businesses grow,” said festival director Paul Beyer. “Each fall we do a Founding Cville project that honors some of our prominent founders in the region.”

Beyer said the nine recipients were selected from a pool of more than 120 nominations and all embody the “Jeffersonian spirit of multidisciplinary creativity.”

The 2015 Founding Cville honorees are:

» Zach Buckner, founder, Relay Foods

» Tom Burford, a father of the Virginia cider movement

» Kathryne Carr (in memoriam), mentor and investor

» Deb McMahon, co-founder, Scitent

» Michael Mallory, co-founder, Ron Brown Scholar Program

» Jennifer Hoyt Tidwell, co-founder, Charlottesville Lady Arm Wrestlers

» Dr. Neal Kassell, founder, Focused Ultrasound Foundation

» Boyd Tinsley, founding member of the Dave Matthews Band and the BAMA Works Fund

» Phil Wendel, founder, ACAC Fitness & Wellness Centers

Mallory, Kassell and Wendel appeared with Beyer on Tuesday for the announcement ceremony on the Downtown Mall.

In 1996 Mallory co-founded the Ron Brown Scholar Program, which each year awards scholarships to 20 young African-Americans from around the country.

“The program is really about what Charlottesville is about — community,” Mallory said. “We are taking these young African-American kids out of high school who are from low-income situations and we take them into a community and we expect them to grow and give back to the community. It’s about getting them through college and beyond.”

Mallory said the program is “high touch” and gives the scholars support and networking opportunities they might otherwise miss.

“Young people without financial means could go to college, but then there was a drop-off afterwards,” Mallory said of the challenge the program was created to address. “They didn’t have the best internships or job opportunities despite graduating from great colleges.”

The Tom Tom festival’s fourth annual block party is set for Sept. 25-26 at the IX Art Park. The 2015 Founding Cville class will be honored at an awards ceremony at 7 p.m. Sept. 25. Portraits of each honoree also will be on display this month on lamppost banners on the Downtown Mall.


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