the academies of hampton my future my journey

Tactical Teams

AoH Steering and Operating Committee Members
Tactical descriptions and areas of opportunities

Mary Bunting - City of Hampton

In 2009, Mary Bunting became the first female city manager for the City of Hampton since the position was created in 1956. She followed in the footsteps of her mother, who was city manager of Roanoke, Va. for many years and also enjoyed an illustrious career in public service.

Bunting began her career with the City of Hampton as an assistant to the city manager in January of 1990. In January of 1995, she was promoted to assistant city manager.

Highlights of her career include the creation of the award-winning 3-1-1 Customer Call Center, consolidation of three separate permit functions into a Central Permit Office, development of Hampton’s Crime and Grime campaign, organization of innovative neighborhood initiatives, including the creation of the Neighborhood Office, and coordination of the city’s emergency planning and response efforts for Hurricane Isabel and Tropical Storm Ernesto. In 2012, she was named a White House Local Innovation Champion of Change.

Bunting has a master's degree in Public Administration from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University and a Bachelor of Arts from Johns Hopkins University. She and her husband Mark have three children: Parker, Carter, and Hannah.

Jeffery Smith - Hampton City Schools

Dr. Smith began his tenure as superintendent of Hampton City Schools (HCS) on July 15, 2015. Prior to his employment with Hampton City Schools, he served as the superintendent of the Town of West Point Public Schools for seven years.

Under his leadership as superintendent with the Hampton City Schools, the school division has strengthened its dual enrollment program with Thomas Nelson Community College, to date yielding a 642 percent increase in the number of dual enrollment credits taken by HCS students. The on-time graduation rate has increased from 88 percent for the Class of 2015 to 92.6 percent for the Class of 2018. The dropout rate has decreased from 5.1 percent for the Class of 2015 to 1.57 percent for the Class of 2018. The division posted its highest accreditation rate in six years with 93 percent of the schools earning accreditation without conditions.

Dr. Smith is a recipient of the 2019 Peninsula Humanitarian Award from the Peninsula Chapter of the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities (February 2019). He was also recently named the 2020 Virginia Superintendent of the Year.

Dr. Smith is married to the former Lorianne Samuel of Caroline County, a public school educator. They have two children, a daughter who is a graduate of Christopher Newport University and Eastern Virginia Medical School with a master in Public Health Policy and Management, and a son who is a senior at Bridgewater College.

Shawn Avery - Hampton Roads Workforce Council

Mr. Shawn Avery currently serves as the President and CEO of the Hampton Roads Workforce Council. In this role, he provides leadership for strategic initiatives, partner and community relations, business and industry development, industry sector activities, educational initiatives, and management and oversight for the largest Mr. Avery holds a Master of Business Administration from Florida Tech and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Christopher Newport University. He has received Certificate of Studies in Economic Development from Virginia Tech and the University of North Carolina. Mr. Avery is the recipient of an Inside Business Top Forty under 40 in Hampton Roads award, as well as an Expanding Workforce Opportunities Award and a Chancellor’s Award from the Virginia Community College System. Most recently, he received the Community Builders Award from the Hampton Roads Community Action Program.

Mr. Avery currently serves on various boards and commissions, including the Virginia Advisory Committee for Career and Technical Education, GO Virginia Regional Council, Hampton Roads Chamber, Future Hampton Roads, Boys and Girls Club of Southeastern Virginia and the Hampton Roads Alliance.

Dr. Towuanna Porter Brannon - Virginia Peninsula Community College

Dr. Towuanna Porter Brannon, was selected as the ninth president for Virginia Peninsula Community College on January 1, 2021. Dr. Brannon has a 25-year record of administration, teaching and leadership at a diverse array of institutions of higher education. Over the span of her career, she has been a primary architect in creating policies, programs and systems designed to improve college access, retention, and completion. Dr. Porter Brannon believes that community colleges are uniquely positioned to deliver high-quality programs aligned to meet regional needs, satisfy workforce demands, and help students become all they are called to be. She is an equity-minded problem solver, who is committed to innovation, community transformation, and intellectual and moral policies and practices. 

Under Dr. Brannon leadership, Virginia Peninsula Community College, Hampton City Schools continues to expand dual enrollment in all four high schools. In addition, Dr. Brannon’s dedication and commitment to Hampton’s college and career academies resulted in Virginia Peninsula Community College (VPCC) being the first Named Academy Partner - Virginia Peninsula Community College Academy of the College Experience, helping over 50 students in the first two years, earn their high school diploma and associate of arts degree simultaneously.

Dr. John Caggiano - Hampton City Schools

Dr. John Caggiano began his position as deputy superintendent for curriculum and instruction for Hampton City Schools on July 1, 2015.

Dr. Caggiano has more than 20 years of educational experience and previously served as the executive director of school leadership for HCS for four years. In this role, he supervised 11 schools, as well as the Division’s Title I program.  He also managed the Division’s Title II grant and is the Project Team Lead for the HCS/Old Dominion University administrative cohort.

Dr. Caggiano began his teaching career at Burbank Elementary School, where he taught 4th and 5th grades. He served as an assistant principal at Syms Middle School before becoming principal of Asbury Elementary. In addition, he served as the principal of Syms Middle School for three years before serving as the principal of Westside Elementary School in Isle of Wight County Schools for four years.

Dr. Caggiano is also an adjunct professor at Old Dominion University, and served in a similar role at The College of William & Mary.  He holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from James Madison University, and early childhood certification from Norfolk State University. He earned a Master of Education in Educational Leadership and Doctorate of Educational Administration from The College of William & Mary.

He has presented on a variety of educational topics across Virginia, and was named the HCS Teacher of the Year in 1998. Dr. Caggiano also recently co-authored a book on formative assessment leadership.  

Ann Cherry - Hampton School Board

Ann Cherry is a member of the Hampton School Board. She is a native of Hampton and is a graduate of the former Phenix High School, West Virginia State University and Golden Gate University, where she earned a Masters of Public Administration degree. She is an educator and a published author, having written a book on conflict resolution that was published by the American Association of School Superintendents. A former Director of Conventions and Tourism for the City of Hampton, Ms. Cherry spent 17 years in Hampton City Schools as Executive Director of Public Relations, 7 years as Hampton University’s Director of University Relations and several years as the Newspapers in Education Coordinator for the Daily Press. She also briefed former First Lady Barbara Bush on early literacy, and won the Chicago Tribune’s highest award - the Tribune VALUES Award. She is a member of several organizations including the Citizens Police Advisory Board and the Hampton Branch NAACP. She has five grandchildren, and her two adult daughters are also graduates of Hampton City Schools. She is married to Lt. Alonzo Cherry.

Kirkpatrick "Kapua" Conley - Sentara Careplex

"Kapua" Conley, MHA, FACHE, is the President of Sentara CarePlex Hospital, a 244-bed hospital serving the Lower Peninsula. Kapua joined Sentara in April 2018 and brings years of experience to his new role.

Prior to joining Sentara, he was the Chief Operations Officer of Tri City Medical Center in San Diego, CA. Prior to joining Tri City Medical Center, Kapua served as the CEO for two different Community Health Systems affiliated hospitals, and with University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, as the Administrator for a large and comprehensive Multidisciplinary Ambulatory Cancer Center, where he also previously served as the Administrative Fellow.

Kapua’s current professional affiliation includes the American College of Healthcare Executives (Fellow). He earned his Bachelor of Science at the A.B. Freeman Business School of Tulane University and his Master of Health Administration from Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.

Jack Ezzell - ZelTech Inc

Jack L. Ezzell, Jr. is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Zel Technologies, LLC (ZELTECH), one of the nation's premier professional services and engineering firms. Mr. Ezzell is a graduate of North Carolina A&T State University and holds an MBA degree from the Ohio State University. He is a retired U.S. Air Force Colonel who was recognized as a leader in applying advanced technology solutions to critical defense problems. Colonel Ezzell served in a number of significant military posts in the United States and Asia.

ZelTech has grown from a small consulting firm into a multi-faceted engineering, manufacturing and Information Technology corporation and is a recognized leader in the introduction of leading-edge technologies to support critical national and homeland security activities. Headquartered in Hampton, Virginia, ZELTECH has operations in multiple locations throughout the United States and abroad.

Mr. Ezzell has received numerous awards. He was Virginia's Small Business Person of the year, the state's Outstanding Industrialist and the Daily Press newspaper Distinguished Citizen of the Year. Old Dominion University awarded him an Honorary Doctorate Degree and its Distinguished Entrepreneurial Award. He has received Community Service Awards from local and national organizations, the prestigious Darden Award for Regional Leadership and was a 2011 inductee into the Hampton Roads' Business Hall of Fame.

Active in many civic and community organizations, he has served as a two-term Rector of the Norfolk State University Board of Visitors, Chairman of the NSU E2F Foundation, Chairman of the Hampton Roads Partnership, Chairman of the Hampton Industrial Development Authority, Chairman of the CIVIC Leadership Institute, Vice Chairman of WHRO, and Vice Chairman of the Jamestown/Yorktown Foundation. He currently serves on the boards of several public and private sector enterprises. Mr. Ezzell is a strong advocate for individuals with disabilities and chairs the Arc of the Virginia Peninsula. He is passionate about early childhood issues and established an innovative technology laboratory geared to children from kindergarten through fifth grade and to senior citizens. Mr. Ezzell spends a considerable amount of his personal time mentoring small business owners.

Joe Frommelt - Virginia Ship Repair Association

Joe Frommelt is the Development and Programs Manager for the Virginia Ship Repair Association. After retirement from the Navy in January of 2018, he transitioned into the private sector as a Program/Project Manager at L3 Harris. His primary responsibility was the support of alteration and modernization work conducted on submarines and surface ships. In March 2022, brought his 30 years of naval services to the Hampton Roads region when he assumed his current duties as Development and Programs Manager of the Virginia Ship Repair Association.

Joe is married to the former Kelli Smith of Winter Park, FL. They reside in the Chesapeake and are the proud parents of four sons: Ian, Logan, Taylor and Alexander ‘AJ’.

Greg Garrett - garrett Realty Partners

Greg Garrett has been in the Real Estate business for over 40 years, he started his first real estate business at the age of 19. Early in his real estate career, Greg became the #1 agent on the Virginia Peninsula. He has received numerous Top Agent awards throughout his career including the #1 overall agent in Hampton Roads, the #1 agent on the Virginia Peninsula, and the #1 agent in Mid-Atlantic multi-state region for his former franchise. He was also one of 4 brokers selected out of 6,000 nationwide to do a 16-city speaking tour across America, called “Recruiting Centerstage”. He has been recognized in REALTOR® Magazine as one of the top 50 REALTORS® in the United States. Today, Greg is a Real Estate Broker in Virginia and North Carolina.

In addition to more than 4 decades of helping clients buy and sell property, Greg has served as a professional leader in his industry. He is a member of the Executive Board of Directors of the Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance. Greg is the former President of the Virginia Peninsula Homebuilders Association and former Chairman of two industry related Political Action Committees.

When not working in the real estate industry, Greg is working hard to improve the lives and well-being of children and families, locally and around the world. . He is the Founder of Orphan Helpers®, an international organization dedicated to providing food, shelter, education, and hope to thousands of orphaned, abandoned, or incarcerated children in Central America.
Greg is the former Chairman of the Newport News Mayor’s Drug Prevention Task Force. His community engagement has included serving on the Board of Directors of Youth Challenge, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program; on the Board of Directors of Operation Breaking Through, an inner-city assistance program; and as the “Clean The Bay Day” Zone Captain for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

Greg has been recognized by both professional and humanitarian organizations for his philanthropic work. He was honored in 2014 with an Angels in Adoption award by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute in Washington, D.C. He was a 2012 Humanitarian Award Honoree with the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities. In 2009 and 2012 Greg was the recipient of Humanitarian Of The Year award presented by Human Relief Organization (HRO) for his dedication to improving the quality of life for individuals facing adversity. In 2005 The National Association of REALTORS® awarded Greg The Good Neighbor Award, recognition given to realtors who make extraordinary commitments to improving the quality of life in their communities through volunteer work. In 2003 he received the prestigious Kauffman Community/Social Entrepreneur Award for his efforts to transform the lives of abandoned, abused, and incarcerated youth through Orphan Helpers®.

Greg has lived in Hampton Roads his entire life. He is a proud graduate of Hampton High School. He has four children and 9 grandchildren.

Kasia Grzelkowski - President/CEO VersAbility Resources

Kasia Grzelkowski has served as the President/CEO of VersAbility Resources since 2006.  VersAbility serves 1,600 people with disabilities in employment, day support, community living, and early childhood programs. With a budget of $46 million and 1,000 employees, VersAbility is a major service provider, business and employer in the region.  Prior to joining VersAbility, Kasia worked for the City of Hampton and United Way of the Virginia Peninsula.  Kasia received both her Bachelor’s degree and her Master’s degree in City and Regional Planning from Cornell University.  Kasia is a Past Chair of the Virginia Peninsula Chamber of Commerce and serves on the Executive Committee of Greater Peninsula Now and on the United Way Campaign Cabinet.  She also serves on the Boards of: the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Peninsula Workforce Board, and vaACCSES. Kasia is a graduate of the CIVIC Leadership Institute and LEAD Peninsula. She has been recognized as a Woman of Distinction by the YWCA, and has received a Unity Award from the Hampton Citizen’s Unity Commission, and  an Entrepreneurial Excellence Award.

Robert McKenna - Virginia Peninsula Chamber of Commerce

Serves as the Virginia Peninsula Chamber of Commerce’s President/CEO and responsible for the management and operation of the 1400+ member and affiliates business development organization. Coordinates the development of public policy, fosters strategic alliances, and serves as liaison with regional military commands and installations. Facilitates the solution of business related community issues through collaboration and facilitation by bringing solution-oriented resources together.

A 1984 graduate of the United States Merchant Marine Academy at King’s Point, NY. Was commissioned as an Ensign in the United States Naval Reserve and activated his commission in January 1985.

Served for 27 years as a Surface Warfare Officer, with service in five ships: USS Estocin (FFG-15), USS Fairfax County (LST-1193), USS Mobile (LKA-115), USS Belleau Wood (LHA-3) and USS Ponce (LPD-15).

Retired as a Captain in 2011 and returned, with his family, to make his home in Newport News, VA.

Since retirement, he worked as a contractor supporting the US Navy, and for a nine-month period as a Department of Veteran Affairs community liaison on the Peninsula, working to enhance educational and employment opportunities for transitioning service members and their families.

Married to Kathy for 33 years and they have four children.

Mike Monteith - Peninsula Community Foundation

For many years, Mike has been dedicated to working toward improving the quality of life for citizens of the Virginia Peninsula. He has held various leadership roles in local government, retiring from the City of Hampton as Assistant City Manager.

Mike served as a special advisor to the Office of the Vice President of the United States focusing on intergovernmental relations and efficiency.

Mike has also owned and operated several successful businesses on the Peninsula and he is one of the founding board members of the Peninsula Community Foundation of Virginia.

The Board appointed Mike as CEO in November 2010.

John Olson - ECPI University

John Olson is the Campus President for ECPI University’s Newport News’ campus. He has been with ECPI University for 28 years as both a faculty member and a campus administrator. John serves on a variety of boards and currently chairs the Greater Peninsula Workforce Board.

Dr. Kerry Ragno - Virginia Peninsula Community College


Dr. Kerry Sullivan Ragno is the Vice President of Academic Affairs and Chief Academic Officer at Virginia Peninsula Community College. Dr. Ragno’s 15 plus  years of community college leadership experience includes six years as a professor and department chair of early childhood development, and nine years as an academic dean. Her areas of expertise include curriculum development, teaching and learning, and program development and administration. She has a proven track record of team building, creating and executing initiatives that yield greater student success, community partnerships, and support for teaching faculty growth and development. As an advocate for social justice, Ragno is committed to providing quality, accessible educational opportunities to a diverse population of adult learners.

Dr. Ragno has a B.A. in Child Development, M.A. in Early Childhood Education, and an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership and Change Management. She currently serves on the Newport News Public School Educational Foundation Board and is a 2022 graduate of Lead Hampton Roads.

Andrea Arnett - Sentara
Ann Bane - Hampton City Schools
Tina Banks-Gray - Peninsula YMCA
Claire Bellecci - Mellen Street Graphics
Seth Black - Hampton City Schools
Susan English - Thomas Nelson Community College

Veronica Hurd - Hampton City Schools
Kathryn Johnson - Alternatives, Inc.
Patricia Johnson - Hampton City Schools
Joe Kilgore - Hampton School Board
Mike Kuhns - Virginia Peninsula Chamber of Commerce
Carla Mahn - Hampton City Schools

Margaret Mathews - Hampton City Schools
Robbin Ruth
- Hampton City Schools
Leonard Sledge - Hampton Workforce Economic Development
Chuck Swaim - Thomas Nelson Community College
Lisa Wornom-Zahralddin - Peninsula Council For Workforce Development

Tactical Descriptions and Areas of Opportunity

Tactical Teams develop and implement the Master Plan and engage the Hampton community throughout the transformation process.

  • Tactic Teams help to oversee the day-to-day activities associated with the Master Plan and report back to the Steering Committee.

  • Tactic Teams allow for cross pollination to occur by having the chair and vice chair for each Tactic Team sit on the Steering Committee.

  • Tactic Teams create shared responsibility with the Steering Committee whom finds resources and removes barriers to facilitate the work of the Tactic Teams.

Career Exploration Opportunities

Academies provide a variety of experiences to help students learn about career academy options in their communities. A highly visible one is the career exploration fair or expo, which offers students and their families. Academies create displays that describe their offerings, and business partners may also participate, helping students learn about potential career paths and employment options.

Communications and Marketing

Clear communication with the community about the plan for transformation and the role of career academies must be an ongoing process. This communication begins with developing the master plan, and it must continue through implementation. To support the academies and provide transparency and clarity of the academy process, a marketing campaign should be aimed at students, families, employers, postsecondary institutions, and the community at large.

Dual Enrollment

Academies provide students with opportunities for engaging in postsecondary learning opportunities while in high school, including dual enrollment courses and related experiences that award college credit and articulated credit.

Freshman Academies

The Freshman Academy is a transitional program for incoming high school students. Interdisciplinary teams of teachers help freshman academy students develop and practice a range of skills they need for success in school and the workplace. The freshman academy also introduces students to the culture of a career academy and to the career academy options available to them, typically beginning in grade 10.

Parent/Family Engagement

Districts, schools, and career academies use a variety of proactive strategies to build partnerships with families to support their children’s success in school and preparation for further education and careers.

Shared Accountability

The master planning process identifies systems and processes for monitoring tactical plan implementation fidelity and quality and for using indicators and measures for assessing the achievement of intended outcomes, primarily focused on the desired graduate.

Steering Committee

The needs of our local and state economy, along with student interests, will need to be considered when developing additional pathways. The tactic team will examine existing pathways, view these against workforce projects, and suggest priorities for future pathways. If you would like to be considered for the Steering Tactical Team, please contact Veronica Hurd at

Workplace Learning Experience for Teachers

Academies provide a variety of experiences to help students learn about academy-related career options in their communities. One of the major annual offerings is the Career Fair Expo, where academies and business partners can display and describe their offerings to both parents and students. These exploration opportunities allow students to learn about potential career paths and employment options.

What are the academies?

Your Pathway to Success

Creating purposeful learning communities through hands-on experiences and career-focused learning environments.


16 Academies 41 pathways

The Academies of Hampton

Providing students with a clear path for graduation and a smooth transition from high school to postsecondary college and careers.



steering committee

Steering & Operating

Guiding our Academies through Community Leadership.


get engaged

Get Involved Today!

Bettering our students, our educators, and our communities through strong partnerships.


student resources and opportunities

The Academies of Hampton

Summer Opportunities At No Cost to You.


The Academies of Hampton

The Academies of BHS

The Academies of HHS

The Academies of KHS

The Academies of PHS



the academies of hampton my future my journey
Tenth through twelfth grade students participate in academies organized around themes that support high-demand, high-skill careers in the Hampton Roads region. Academy students graduate with a plan for a successful future and network of support to guide them along their way!

Aoh of BHS

Aoh of HHS

Aoh of KHS

Aoh of PHS

2019-2020 programs of study