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  • Melissa Andrews President & CEO

    Ph: 804.925.2540
    Melissa is responsible for overall association management and for leading the membership and staff in formulating and implementing strategic goals. She is also responsible for communicating the Association’s vision to a broad range of audiences.

    • Fun Facts:
    • Has a slight shoe and French Bulldog obsession she hopes her daughter will inherit
    • Is the only female to ever letter in Varsity football at an all-male Jesuit high school in Washington, DC (you’ll have to talk to her to get the full story!)
    • Is a self-proclaimed Governance Geek and loves working with not for profit boards across the country
  • Dana Parsons Vice President & Legislative Counsel

    Ph: 804-925-2565
    Dana serves as a spokesperson before the General Assembly, state and federal agencies, and the Virginia Congressional Delegation. She is responsible for setting the Association’s public policy and advocacy direction, including all state and federal legislative and regulatory matters, and serves as an advisor to the President/CEO and Board of Directors. She also supports the membership with regulatory and compliance issues related to the continuum of aging services. Dana is a member of the Virginia State Bar, LeadingAge Legal Committee, and Metro Richmond Women's Bar Association Board of Directors.

    • Fun Facts:
    • Loves being “Mommy” to her two kiddos and three kitties
    • Enjoys gardening, and growing just what’s needed for a salad and a floral centerpiece for the dinner table
    • Loves annual family trips to the Outer Banks
  • Sydney Thomas Director, Member Services & Operations

    Ph: 804.925.2618
    Sydney is responsible for managing the association’s membership functions, including website and database management, Elite Sponsor and business member recruitment and service, and participation in the planning and coordination of educational programming. She also directs all logistical aspects of the Annual Conference & Expo, Leadership Retreat, and State Night Out at the LeadingAge Annual Meeting. Sydney is a member of the Virginia Society of Association Executives, LeadingAge Professional Development Network and LeadingAge Member Development Network.

    • Fun Facts:
    • Has eclectic tastes in music, ranging from Latin jazz to classical, from country-western to world rythms
    • Wrote and published a book, “The Joy of Soulful Knitting: Reflections on the Art of the Craft”
    • Discovered that she’d inherited her Dad’s gardening gene five years ago and has been digging in the dirt ever since
  • Paula Ropelewski Manager, Education & Engagement

    Ph: 804.925.2665
    Paula is responsible for organizing the association's educational programs, including educational component of the Annual Conference & Expo and Leadership Retreat, and assists with the coordination of the Dementia Friends Virginia initiative through training. She also provides ongoing support to association members.

    • Fun Facts:
    • Loves to travel, especially to Europe
    • Enjoys baking, upcycling, and crafting
    • Avid reader of detective mysteries and beach trash romance novels
  • Laiya Haywood Member Services Assistant

    Ph: 804.965.5500
    Laiya is responsible for supporting the association's member services, with a concentration on student engagement. She provides administrative support to fellow staff and assists in maintenance of the membership database, logistics planning for the Annual Conference & Expo and supporting the association's Dementia Friends initiative.

    • Fun Facts:
    • Loves to relax and unwind with her daughter
    • Enjoys cooking more than baking
    • Went from swimming 50 meter races in 4 minutes to 39 seconds in a span of three months