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Achieving Her Dream


April 1, 2014



If you were to pick a word to describe Danielle Fitz-Hugh '09, one of the first words that might come to mind is go-getter. From studying for her degree to taking the next step in her career, once she knows what she wants, she pursues it until she achieves her goal.

As Fitz-Hugh followed the career path she had set for herself, the fact that she didn't have a four-year degree wasn't an obstacle. However, because she didn't want it to become one, she began looking at various degree programs. As she researched different schools and their programs, one of the ones that stood out to her was Averett's Graduate and Professional Studies (GPS) Program.

"I have fantastic work experience and quite frankly needed the fastest program available with the least amount of time in the classroom ," Fitz-Hugh said. "I have a family, career and other responsibilities and Averett provided the efficiency that I needed.

"The biggest value to me is time. Time is valuable, and Averett's accelerated program allows you to use your time efficiently to finish up your degree. I also enjoyed having a group of students that mostly all started at the same time, so you have continuity going from class to class together."

Going into the program, her goal was to advance from vice president to president of a Chamber of Commerce. "When the right opportunity became available, I did just that."

Fitz-Hugh became president and CEO of the Petersburg Chamber of Commerce in September 2011. She is the first African-American to serve as president and CEO of the Petersburg Chamber.

"It is a tremendous opportunity and sense of pride to be impactful in a community of peers," Fitz-Hugh said. "Our city is 83 percent black as of the most recent census. As such, our leadership representatives should be of equal proportion. While I am not focused on one group of people over the other, I am mindful that everyone is included in discussions and opportunities.

"In Chambers of Commerce, enterprise growth, success and succession is in the color of 'green' and our Chamber's work is driven by helping our members get a return on an investment, and grow their enterprise. Enterprises belong to Chambers for two very simple reasons: to help them build their business and make money and to build their community. If we as Chambers help our members build their businesses, then those enterprises can re-invest which builds our communities."