Board of Directors

Fairfax Ayres, Vice Chair

Fax Ayres is the owner and President of Angerole Mounts, a niche manufacturer of device mounting solutions for aviation, and Orion Flight Center, a flight training and aircraft rental business at the Charlottesville-Albemarle airport. Fax also works as a management consultant to a small local consumer finance technology company three days a week. Fax moved to Charlottesville in 2000, taking a job as the CFO at the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation (Monticello). He and his wife opened Splendora’s, a gelato and espresso cafe, on the downtown mall in 2004, owning and operating that business until selling it to an employee in 2010. Fax has worked in the past as a professional charter pilot and corporate pilot, and still actively maintains his flying skills through flight instruction, charitable flying and personal flying. Fax is married and has three children.  He enjoys tennis, snowboarding, flying and talking about flying, driving and talking about driving, and helping small businesses explore and capitalize on the opportunities they have identified.

Andrea Copeland-Whitsett

Andrea D. Copeland is the Director of Member Education Services for the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce. She oversees and runs the Chamber's signature program, Leadership Charlottesville, as well as the Chamber Business Academy, and is the Chamber liaison for the Chamber Minority Business Council and Leadership Charlottesville Alumni Association. Andrea is also the founder and president of Positive Channels, a company with a mission to use the power of all media for good. She recently launched a new show on 1070 WINA, Sounds of Success, which airs Saturdays 9-10am. At Positive Channels, Andrea has interviewed, covered, worked with and met some high profile figures including President Obama, the Dalai Lama, Star Jones, Sean Penn, civil rights icons Ernie Green, Julian Bond, John Lewis, U.S. Ambassador to Haiti Raymond Joseph, and more. Andrea also produces and hosts programs for CPA-TV Channel 13, Charlottesville's Own TV10 and the Positive Channels YouTube channel. Because of her strong communication connections and engagement, she is often asked to emcee community programs and moderate community discussions.

Lee Elberson

Lee is Co-Owner and Chief Operations Officer of Clayborne Education. Lee served in the U.S. Marine Corps and has a Bachelor’s degree in Physics from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. He did his graduate work at the University of Maryland in atomic physics attempting to shape molecules using custom lasers.  He did further research at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory working on relativistic electron transport in a laser-induced plasma, i.e. using big lasers to make small stars. He is a graduate of CIC’s workshop and has been a workgroup leader for multiple workshops.

Dana Goldsmith, Chair

Dana is a 13-year veteran of the Internet software industry with a focus on the ecommerce space. Eleven of those years were spent in Silicon Valley companies and two in Seattle with Extensive operational experience inside multi-billion dollar companies as well as start-ups. Experience ranges from raising $1 million in angel funding for a start-up founded by Dr. BJ Fogg, Stanford professor and founder of the Persuasive Technology Lab at Stanford, to joining a start-up inside responsible for forming ecommerce platform and distribution partnerships with major online retailers. Additionally, deeply involved in a variety of start-up companies helping build out sales, marketing and business development strategy, processes and organizations. Areas of expertise include enterprise-level sales and sales management, partnership management and development, contract negotiation, and overall corporate strategy. Prior to joining the Internet software industry, spent 9 years running the Chicago and Los Angeles sales offices for Quad/Graphics, a $2 Billion commercial printing company. Each of those offices accounted for well over $100 million in annual sales revenue.

Laura Horn

Laura is an online executive with a thirty-year career in the development and marketing of innovative information and technology products to professionals and consumers at Fortune 500 companies and as a co-founder of a start up. Laura began her career at LEXIS-NEXIS when it was a young company. Her career progression included sales and training, customer service, sales management, technical and product development, and marketing and strategic development, culminating in the position of Vice President of Marketing and Sales for LEXIS Legal Publishing. She joined America Online in the mid 90s as General Manager of New Products and Services, developing and acquiring new companies and capabilities. As Vice President of Systems Development, Laura and her teams were responsible for many of the products that AOL’s millions of consumers used every day, including e-mail, search and mobile services. Laura left AOL in 2002 to co-found Wondir, a venture capital funded start-up that provided a live Q & A service combining search and instant message. Wondir sold profitably, in its fourth year, to Revolution Health. Laura, a native Iowan, serves on the board of her Alma Mater, Buena Vista University and on the board of Poetry Daily. She teaches comprehensive sexuality education to middle and high school students. She is a past president of the Montgomery County, Ohio Board of Mental Health and of Unitarian Universalists of Sterling, Virginia; a past member of UVA Women’s Center council and a past Vice President of Advocates for a Sustainable Albemarle Population; and a graduate of Leadership Charlottesville. She and her husband, Hasty, live in rural Charlottesville.

Todd Kennedy, Treasurer

Todd is a Senior Vice President and 18 year veteran of Capital One Financial Services.  Todd joined Capital One during its early days and has been a part of its historic rise from being part of a small regional bank to one of the top 7 largest banks in the United States.  Todd began his career in marketing and business analysis within Capital One’s new business development team. Todd has held several leadership roles within Capital One including General Manager of their Healthcare Finance business, leading their Small Business Card unit and now leading its Upmarket Card business – one of Capital One’s largest business lines.  Todd’s experience encompasses general management, business strategy, marketing, product development and credit.  Todd has a passion for growing new businesses, solving customer problems along with learning and coaching others. During Todd’s time at Capital One, he created their market leading Analyst Development Program and leads their company wide analyst recruiting efforts.  Todd’s most recent focus is leveraging the power of design thinking and digital experiences to solve customer problems including recently attending Stanford’s Design School.  Todd joined Capital One after graduating from the University of Virginia with a degree in Chemical Engineering. Todd and his wife Holly relocated to Charlottesville several years ago and recently moved to Keswick with their two young boys. 

Michael Latsko, Secretary

Michael is Director of Human Resources Consulting Services (HRCS) at the University of Virginia. Since November 2013, he has led a team of 10 HR generalists who serve UVA’s school and units on a variety of needs in recruitment & hiring, performance management, compensation, and employee relations.  Before moving to UVA, all of his experience was in online professional publishing in the private sector: Silverchair Information Systems (science, technical, medical), SNL Financial (financial), ExploreLearning (math & science educational), and LexisNexis (legal & news).

His HR work followed a non-traditional path, beginning with a BA in English from UVA followed by a JD from UVA’s Law School and a brief stint practicing law in New York.  He also serves as organist-choirmaster of Grace Episcopal Church in Keswick (since 2007) and a volunteer music announcer at WJTU Radio (91.1FM, since 1993. He is the immediate past president of both the Charlottesville Society of HR Management (SHRM) and the Charlottesville chapter of the American Guild of Organists. He serves on the board of the Virginia SHRM council and is a 2008 graduate of LEAD Virginia.

Shawn Pendleton

Shawn Pendleton, a Financial Advisor with Stifel, is also a partner within The Dickman Pendleton Wealth Management Group, located in the Stifel Charlottesville office.  Before becoming a Stifel financial advisor, Shawn was the Senior Product Advisor for a nationally recognized leader in consumer electronics and consumer education. During Shawn’s 13 years there, he became the functional expert in a broad range of technology-related fields and was credited in magazine articles, television news programs, television commercials, and website tutorial videos.    

In 2013, Shawn brought to the financial world his ability to explain complex and challenging subjects in ways that are easier to digest and understand.  His professional experience includes investment planning, estate planning strategies, tax planning strategies, asset management, and investment portfolio design. 

Philippe Sommer

Philippe is the director of the Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership, responsible for managing Darden’s entrepreneurship program as well as its broader educational efforts around innovation including the recently launched i.Lab. Sommer also works extensively with the larger U.Va. community on new university-wide entrepreneurship initiatives, such as the U.Va. Entrepreneurship Cup. Prior to joining Darden, Sommer was a founding partner of WestMed Venture Funds, publicly registered life-sciences venture-capital funds affiliated with CIBC/Oppenheimer, Inc. He has also served as director of business development in the medical products group for Pfizer, Inc. Sommer has extensive experience in fund management, venture capital, private investments, M&A, licensing and technology transfer. The Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership is part of the Batten Institute. Sommer serves on the advisory boards of the Coulter Foundation Grant to the Biomedical Engineering Department; as advisor to the nanoSTAR Institute (nanotechnology); as a board member of the Buchanan Endowment Program of the Medical School; and as an advisor to the Launch Pad Fund supporting diabetes research, all of which are at U.Va. Sommer holds an M.B.A. from Columbia University and a B.A. with Honors from Amherst College.

Charles Thacher

Charles was Founder and Managing Partner of Williams, Thacher & Rand, an actuarial and benefits consulting firm with over 200 employees and offices in six cities. Charlie managed the New York City office and served as actuary and consultant to companies of various sizes and large professional firms. After selling the firm to USI Consulting Services, a division of USI, Charlie stayed on as Executive VP until he retired in 2004. For the past forty years Charlie has been a volunteer instructor for the Workshop in Business Opportunities (WIBO), a non-profit that runs entrepreneurial training programs in communities and two prisons in and around New York City. He has taught every subject which must be mastered to start and operate a successful business, and has mentored many small business owners. He served as Chairman of WIBO from 1996 until 2011. He has brought his expertise to the Charlottesville area, including introducing CIC to the WIBO program and acting as a volunteer instructor and mentor in the CIC program. In addition to his WIBO involvement, Charlie has served as Director & Chair of the Finance Committee of the Walnut Hill School. He currently serves as Board Treasurer. He has also served as Director and member of the Budget & Finance Committee of the Westchester Association of Retarded Citizens in White Plains, NY. He was a member of the Society & the Academy of Actuaries. He graduated with a BA from Hamilton College.

W. McIlwaine “Mac” Thompson, Jr.

Mac is Of Counsel to Woods Rogers PLC. Mac practices corporate law representing companies in diverse fields including biotechnology, high-tech, education, and manufacturing. He assists entrepreneurs in preparing appropriate organizational structures, managing federal and state securities issues relating to financing their businesses, negotiating investment terms and conditions for such financings and drafting contracts associated with the businesses. He serves on the boards of a number of privately-held companies in diverse fields and has been active in many non-profit organizations in the Charlottesville area. In particular, he is a member and former Chairman of the Board of Directors of UVA’s Curry School of Education Foundation, President of the Tuesday Evening Concert Series, a member and former Chairman of the Board of Directors of Ash Lawn Opera Festival Foundation, former Chairman of the Charlottesville Committee on Foreign Relations, a member of the Advisory Board of the Heart and Vascular Center at the University of Virginia, and was a member of the Board of Directors of Charlottesville Tomorrow. He is an Elder on the Session of First Presbyterian Church and has been Moderator of the Presbytery of the James. He received a B.A. degree, cum laude, from Yale College in 1969 and a J.D. degree from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1972.