VBA Women’s Mentorship Program
2024 Attendee Portal

Internal Links Laurie Milligan Kristen Reid Michele Dunn

Welcome to the 2024 VBA Women’s Mentorship Program!

Over the course of ten months, we will be walking through a series of exercises to increase self-awareness, identifying unique gifts and what YOU bring to the table and how to differentiate your value.

At the end of the program, you will have created and solidified a personal brand that you can (as Jennifer Huffman shared) be ready, proud and excited to share!    

Important Dates 

In-Person Events

Calendar requests for the sessions below will be sent out to all participants after the opening session.

  • February 22 from 1:30-4:00p.m. – Program Kick Off at the VBA Office in Glen Allen, VA
  • July-September – Regional Mid-Year Meet-ups (Dates TBD)
  • December 4 from 9:30am-12:00pm - Closing Program in Richmond, VA 
  • December 4-5 (afternoon kick-off) 2024 Women in Banking at the Westin Hotel in Richmond, VA (hotel reservation link will be sent out to you over the summer)

Virtual Trainings

Calendar requests for the sessions below will be sent out to all participants after the opening session.

  • March 15 from 9:00-10:30am: Goal Setting Session Jodi Flynn, Women Taking the Lead - While this session will be geared towards the mentees, mentors are also encouraged to participate.
  • March 21 from 10:00-11:30am: Mentor Training Tamice Spencer-Helms, Mentor, Virginia - Helping mentors understand their role and tools to help them show up “at their best” for their mentees (this session is for mentors only)
  • May 30, 9:30-11:00am: Exploring Your Values Britten Parker, InnerWill
  • Dates TBA: Two Virtual Check-ins (Coffee Talk for Mentors & Tea Time for Mentees) offering participants to share experiences and stories on their journey with their peers from across the state.
  • September 13, 9:00-10:00am: Mid-Year Personal Brand Work Check-in Jennifer Huffman, Atlantic Union Bank

Opening Session

1:30 – 1:50 pm: Welcome/Program Overview

1:50-2:20 pm: Why Mentoring Matters – A Fireside Chat Paula Milsted and Jeff Szyperski | Chesapeake Bank

2:20-2:30 pm Break

2:30-4:00 pm Building Your Personal Brand Workshop Jennifer Huffman | Atlantic Union Bank

A personal brand is, in many ways, similar to a corporate brand by helping to demonstrate who you are, what you stand for, the values you embrace, and the way in which you express those values. Just as a company brand helps to communicate its value to customers and stand out from the competition., a personal brand does the same for individuals, helping to communicate a unique identity and clear value to potential employers and clients.

4:00-5:00pm Networking Reception

March 6 Zoom Recording – Setting the Stage

Access the Zoom recording here (passcode: 03iEH&bc)

Session Materials

Presentations password: WMP2024Personalbrand

Meet the Opening Session Speakers

Jennifer Huffman | Atlantic Union Bank

Jennifer Huffman is a Virginia businesswoman and Vice President at Atlantic Union Bank, the largest regional bank in Virginia. Her role as Solutions Banking Relationship Manager encompasses leading the workplace banking program throughout the Central Western Region, covering areas such as the New River Valley, Roanoke Valley, Shenandoah Valley, Lynchburg Region, and Richmond. Jennifer is dedicated to delivering financial wellness solutions to help employees build financial confidence. Her commitment lies in helping businesses implement workplace financial benefits to support their employees, regardless of their financial journey.

Born and raised in Moneta, Virginia, Jennifer developed an early interest in finance and business. She pursued a degree in Business Leadership from Liberty University, while continuing to work in banking, solidifying her passion for helping individuals and businesses achieve financial success.

Jennifer’s influence and connections have earned her the title of “POWER BROKER.” Her reputation extends beyond her successful banking career. In 2022, she was recognized as one of the “Top 20 under 40″ by the Lynchburg Business Magazine. Additionally, she was nationally recognized and received the 2023 Emerging Leader Award by the American Bankers Association. Jennifer’s impact on the community is evident through her involvement in various organizations.

Jennifer’s leadership extends beyond her professional role. She serves as The Program Chair for Atlantic Union Banks Women’s Inclusion Network. She serves as Vice Chairwoman of the Board of Directors for HumanKind and chairs the Development Committee. She also holds the title of Centennial Chair of the 2024 Roanoke Heart Ball, contributing to cardiovascular research and health-related initiatives. Furthermore, she serves on the Board of Virginia Centers of Inclusive Communities, Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance as Chair of Investor Relations, Goodwill Industries of the Valleys, and is the Lead Teen Advisor of Jack and Jill of America, Inc., Roanoke Valley Chapter.

Jennifer’s unwavering dedication to making a difference in the community, her commitment to financial wellness, and her influential leadership have positioned her as a prominent figure in the banking industry and a respected community leader. With her passion, expertise, and network, Jennifer continues to inspire others and create a lasting impact.

Paula Milsted | Chesapeake Bank

Paula is the Chief Experience Officer at Chesapeake Bank where she oversees Marketing, Human Resources, and Products. Simply put, she makes sure that the employee, customer, and brand experiences are all working in tandem to create a great and authentic brand. She began her banking career in 1995 at PNC Bank in Pittsburgh and joined Chesapeake Bank in 2002. She holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a B.S. degree in Marketing Management from Grove City College, Pennsylvania. She is also a 2006 graduate of the American Bankers Association’s School of Bank Marketing and Management, graduate of the VBA Executive Leadership Institute, and completed the Leadership Development Program at the Center for Creative Leadership. Paula holds a Certified Financial Marketing Professional (CFMP) designation from the Institute of Certified Bankers (ICB) sponsored by the ABA.

She has served and continues to serve her community as past fundraising chair and board member for the YMCA and Vestry member of St. John’s Episcopal Church. She is active in her church with fundraising and outreach efforts.

Quote stuck to her computer monitor is “If you do please everyone, you are not making enough progress.” – Sheryl Sandberg

Jeff Szyperski | Chesapeake Bank

Jeff Szyperski is chairman, president and CEO of Chesapeake Financial Shares, Inc. and Chesapeake Bank, a $1.471 billion institution based in Kilmarnock, VA. He is also chairman of Chesapeake Wealth Management.

Jeff is a past chairman of the American Bankers Association (2018-2019), a past ABA executive committee member, a past ABA board of directors member, a past ABA nominating committee chairman, a past chairman of the ABA’s audit committee, and a past chairman and member of the ABA’s Membership Council. He is also a past chairman of the Virginia Bankers Association (2012–2013), a past VBA executive committee member, a past VBA board of directors member, and past chairman of the VBA Education Foundation.  He is a current member of the Federal Reserve Community Depository Institutions Advisory Council. 

Jeff is a former senior manager for KPMG Peat Marwick in Raleigh, NC, and is a former chairman and member of the Lancaster County Economic Development Authority. He is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; the Graduate School of Banking at Louisiana State University; and holds CPA (inactive) and CFP® (inactive) designations.

He is a past chairman and member of the Chesapeake Academy board of trustees, a past chairman and member of the Rappahannock Westminster-Canterbury, Inc. board of trustees, and a past member of the Saint Mary’s School board of trustees.  He is a current member of the GO Virginia Region 6 Council and Executive Committee and the Bon Secours Rappahannock General Hospital Campaign Committee.

Virtual Sessions 

Goal Setting Session

There are many benefits to creating and committing to goals. Goals provide direction and purpose, guiding you to prioritize your efforts and make meaningful progress. Upon completion, goals also serve as a motivating force, fostering a sense of achievement and satisfaction. Sometimes there is hesitancy to create goals due to fear of failure, time commitment, uncertainty about one’s ability to achieve a certain goal, and the perceived effort required. This session will guide you through a reflective and fun process to create goals that are aligned with your values and career aspirations.

 In this session you will:

  • Identify areas of professional development to focus on in the coming year.

  • Craft SMART goals that would represent a success in their development.

  • Using one goal to start, create a realistic plan for achieving their goal.


Pre-Work: Please complete this form prior to the session. 

Creating Goals Workbook - Fillable

Creating Goals Workbook

Session Recording

Access the recording here.

Meet the Speaker

Jodi Flynn is the CEO and Founder of Women Taking the Lead, a leadership development company that works with individuals, allies, and organizations, to close the gender parity gap by attracting, developing, and successfully promoting more women into senior levels of leadership. She helps organizations realize these benefits through coaching, consulting, leadership development programs and keynotes.

Featured in Entrepreneur and Forbes magazines Jodi is the host of the nationally recognized Women Taking the Lead podcast, and an Amazon bestselling author with her book, Accomplished: How to Go from Dreaming to Doing.

Jodi is a co-founder of The Maine Women’s Conference and has spoken at the Massachusetts Conference for Women, the Women in Banking, and Emerging Leaders Conferences. You can find out more about Jodi at WomenTakingTheLead.com or LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jodiflynn.

Mentor Training

Session Recording

To access the recording, click here (Passcode: Ut^tucf1)

Core Values

Session Recording

Access the full recording here.

Meet the Speaker

Britten Parker, Facilitator and Coach, InnerWill Leadership Institute
Britten Parker is a facilitator and leadership coach with InnerWill. Britten is an experienced trainer, facilitator and coach specializing in Values Based Leadership. She is talented at connecting with audiences with her energy and down-to-earth approach. She especially loves helping individuals discover their core values and helping groups and organizations gain alignment to be more effective.  

Britten’s ability to connect with audiences quickly and invest in organizations deeply positions her well to do both keynote speaking and work with long-term clients committed to deep culture change within their organizations. 

Britten has expertise in using a variety of instruments to help organizations manage their cultures. She supports Luck Companies and external clients in the administration of Associate Engagement Surveys as well as supporting implementation plans for improvement. Britten earned a Bachelor’s of Science from James Madison University, a master’s degree in counselor education from University of Virginia an da certification in business coaching from North Carolina State University. She spent several years working in higher education focusing on leadership development in the undergraduate population before transitioning into a role at Luck Companies in 2005 to focus on creating a culture rich in values. 

Mentor/Mentee Meeting Resources

Below are links to three resources to help kickstart and guide your meetings.  Feel free to download and print copies as needed.

Books for Discussion

During the course of the program, questions/resources and exercises will be posted below to help guide your experience.  

Change Your Questions, Change Your Life by Marilee Adams, PhD

April Exercise & Discussion: Mindset Challenge

This month, you are going to focus on noticing your mindset and, more specifically, who are the people, personally or professionally, and what are the specific behaviors that just get on your nerves. Through the Mindset Challenge, you will learn to recognize and focus on your thoughts and reactions during these interactions. At the end of the challenge are reflection questions if you would like to discuss the challenge and any “a-ha” moments during your next mentor/mentee meeting. 

As you are going through this exercise, please remember that we are just starting with raising your awareness.  As you start to become more cognizant of your mindset, you will realize there are times that you are squarely on the “Judger” path.  This is human nature and is nothing to be discouraged about – notice it, recognize how you can switch your thinking and remember how it is always much more productive (and enjoyable!) when you can approach your relationships with a “Learner” mindset. As you are reading the book, you will be introduced to the “Choice Map”, a tool to help you learn to switch to the “Learner” mindset.  We will dive into this tool in the future, but it is available to you for download on the Inquiry Institute website.  

June Exercise and Discussion: Question Thinking and the Choice Map

In the April content release, you were presented with a mindset challenge. This month, we are diving into the Choice Map and the relationship between your mindset and your question thinking.  Question thinking is just as it sounds…how are you approaching your interactions and thinking with questions as opposed to judging someone or a situation. Just like anything else, the more you practice question thinking the easier and more natural it will become. 

This month, reflect back on the Mindset Challenge along with the Choice Map (available for download here) and, in your mentor/mentee pairing, discuss the following questions: 

  • What questions am I asking myself about:
    • the other person?
    • the other person’s behavior?
    • myself?
  • Would I categorize these as questions coming from the “learner” path or the “judger” path?
  • How can I change the questions I am asking that are leading me down the “judger” path to switch me over to the “learner” path?

Strengthsfinder 2.0 from Gallup with tom rath

Content Releases

Every other month, participants will receive a “content release” that will include videos, exercises, and resources to help guide your experience.  These are meant to help support and guide conversations, but not to dictate – we encourage you to dive into material that will help you in creating your brand, achieving your goal (and having a great experience along the way!).  

The content releases will be sent out the first Friday of the month (dates noted below).

April 5 – Building the knowledge of your bank – IT All starts with your organization!

Goal: To help participants understand the “how” and “why” behind their bank which will ultimately help link their personal brand statement to the work their bank does and help them identify the unique value they bring to their bank.

Click here to access the full online version of the April 5 Content Release.

April Content Release

How to Read The Story Your Bank Financials Are Telling Michelle Austin, Bank of Botetourt

Action Items

  • Read the letter to your shareholders from your CEO
  • Answer the following questions:
  • What is your bank’s total assets?
  • How much money did your bank make in the prior year?
  • Will your bank surpass that amount this year?
  • What percent are your loans and your deposits growing? 

How to Read the Story of Fed Policy, Economic Climate, and Politics Michelle Austin, Bank of Botetourt 
If it opens as a PowerPoint, start the slideshow and the full recording will begin

Action Items

  • Find out the FOMC meeting dates for the upcoming year
  • Predict the FOMC decision for its next meeting
  • Ask your CFO what your bank’s budget assumption is for interest rates for the year
  • Ask if you can attend a portion of an ALCO meeting to hear about interest rate impacts

How to Learn the Story of Your Bank Michelle Austin, Bank of Botetourt 
If it opens as a PowerPoint, start the slideshow and the full recording will begin

Action Items

  • Ask your mentor for a list of resources and reading materials
  • Ask admired co-workers for a reading list
  • Find resources such as bank paid subscriptions to the VBA, ABA and others (such as online newspapers)

Understanding the Heart of Your Bank Jenn Knighting, First Bank, Virginia

Action Items & Discussion Questions:

  • Start exploring your “why”
  • What speaks to you about your bank’s brand and story?
  • How does that align with your personal brand and goals?
  • How does alignment feel?

June 7 – Understanding Your Strengths, Values and How They Play Into Your Brand

Goal: Participants will complete and assess their StrengthsFinder’s and identify how their individual strengths/values plays into their contribution at the bank/in their role as well as what pieces are important to them to be part of their personal brand statement.

Click here to access the full online version of the June 7 Content Release.

Understanding Your Superpowers (X Factor) and Your “Y”

People with strong brands are clear about who they are and the contributions they make within their organization. They have identified and know how to maximize their strengths.

Understanding your why is key as you design your brand to connect with your values, passions and purpose. When you are living in alignment with your values, things just feel “right” -  it is easier to get excited and engaged in what you are doing, and you can ensure authenticity and success in building your personal brand.

Discovering your personal brand is a continuous journey that will evolve over your life. Despite the versions you may experience over time, you will find that your values and strengths will always be a part of your evolution as you unlock your full potential and create a brand that resonates with your authentic self.

As you go through the exercises below, you will first be completing self-exploration exercises and then examining how your “X” and “Y” are showing up for you in your professional role.

Complete the following exercises and discuss with your mentor:

June/July Action Items
  • Complete your StrengthsFinder 2.0 Assessment (if you haven’t already)
  • Define your “X” and “Y” factors and complete the related exercises
  • Explore the questions you are asking (of yourself and others) and examine how you can change from a “judging path” to a “learning path”
  • Meet with your mentor/mentee – some suggested topics to discuss are: 
    • Your strengths and values
    • Review your goal from the goal setting session
    • Discuss the role your mentor can play in helping keep you on a “Learner” path
    • And, most important…anything you need support on to help you be successful!

August 2 – What do you want to be known for?

Goal: In preparation for the September mid-year check-in, participants will be presented exercises to help them, concisely, identify what they want others to think when their name comes up in conversation/they walk into a room.  Additionally, participants what behaviors or actions they will be intentional about to help formulate this desired impact on others.  

October 4 – Establish Your Brand Statement & Elevator Pitch

Goal: The “rubber meets the road” – This content release will provide a framework for participants to create a concise brand statement, elevator pitch and links their desired impact back to their bank.

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