Averett Kicks off Fireside Chat Series with Panel Discussion on Resiliency in 2020

Posted on November 9th, 2020 by Cassie Jones

UPDATE 11/16/2020: Due to a new executive order on limited event sizes from the Governor of Virginia, this event will be held on Zoom. 

Averett’s Centers of Entrepreneurship and Innovation and Community Engagement and Career Competitiveness are co-sponsoring our first-in-a-series fireside chat on “What Have We Learned about Resiliency in 2020? Lessons from Entrepreneurs, Business, University and Government Leaders” on Monday, Nov. 16, from 6-7 p.m. in Pritchett Auditorium in the Violet T. Frith Fine Arts Center, 150 Mountain View Ave.

The event is limited to the first 100 guests who register by emailing [email protected], or via Zoom by clicking here. You may also scan the QR code on the attached poster at left.

Panelists include:

  • Tiffany Franks, president of Averett University
  • John Vigouroux, chief entrepreneurship and innovation officer at Averett
  • Sheila Hill-Christian, managing director at Fahrenheit Advisors & Averett trustee
  • William Kilmer, managing partner at C5 Capital
  • Alvaro Jimenez, president of Averett’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Club

In 2020 we’ve experienced a global pandemic, economic and political turmoil, a draining election race, racial injustice, massive demonstrations, riots and more. There’s no doubt the year has brought unprecedented disruption and change to every organization and individual. Resiliency, the ability to respond to and recover from events or difficulties, has been central to our survival.

This exciting panel discussion will explore the topic of resilience from multiple perspectives of entrepreneurship, academia, business and government, and what resiliency means to our organizations and to each of us personally. We’ll examine the role of leaders, organizational culture and diversity in preparing resilient organizations. Please join us for an interesting and lively discussion on this increasingly important topic.

Dr. Tiffany McKillip Franks became the President of Averett University on July 1, 2008, and she is the first woman to hold the post since the University’s founding in 1859. During her tenure, the University has realized record enrollments in the traditional undergraduate program and has completed its first comprehensive capital campaign with the second campaign underway — securing almost $40 million, including $5.3 million for a significant expansion in the health sciences and over $15 million for major facilities improvements, including the new Schoolfield House Booksellers, the Galesi Family Student Success Center, Averett Central, the Violet T. Frith Fine Arts Center, the Frank R. Campbell Stadium, and the renovation of the University’s historic Main Hall. In addition, the University opened its Riverview Campus in Danville’s River District.

New academic programs have been launched for undergraduates in nursing and criminal justice and new graduate programs have been launched in criminal justice administration and leadership, applied data analytics, education, and nursing; and new intercollegiate athletic programs have been added in men’s and women’s lacrosse, wrestling, and esports. A Center for Community Engagement and Career Competitiveness has been established linking the University to the surrounding region in ways that improve student’s lives as well as the surrounding community; and the University’s inaugural Chief Entrepreneurship and Innovation Officer has been secured to lead our major focus with entrepreneurship and innovation.

With 33 years of senior-level administrative experience in higher education that began when she was 23 as a dean of students, Franks’ leadership style and problem-solving expertise have led her through executive positions in admissions, financial aid, student life, marketing and communications, public relations, and fundraising. Prior to taking the helm at Averett, she served as the Executive Vice President at Greensboro College in North Carolina. Franks earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Ohio Dominican University; a Master of Science degree in Education from The Ohio State University; and a doctorate in Higher Education Management from the University of Pennsylvania.


John Vigouroux is an internationally accomplished entrepreneur and innovator who joined Averett in August. He is an Averett alumnus who came back to Averett from Silicon Valley after an extensive career as a serial entrepreneur, in which he was an eight-time president and CEO for both private and public technology companies – and he brings an impressive global network of accomplished entrepreneurs and business leaders from whom the University will learn.

Through Vigrououx’s leadership, Averett has created a new Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. This Center will serve as a learning lab and entrepreneurial gateway for students, connecting them with the region’s economic environment and also accelerating the entrepreneurial ecosystem in southern Virginia. Many at Averett will be working together to build multidisciplinary learning methods with an intense entrepreneurship focus in classrooms, coupled with hands-on work with businesses, organizations and other regional partners.


  Sheila Hill-Christian is currently a Managing Director for Government Services with Fahrenheit Advisors, a Richmond-based business advisory practice. Prior to joining Fahrenheit, she served with distinction in high-profile leadership positions for the Commonwealth of Virginia, the City of Richmond, Va., the City of Portland, Maine, and the City of Cincinnati, Ohio.

Hill-Christian is also an entrepreneur having launched Hill-Christian Consulting. Clients included the Baltimore Housing Authority,  the City of Richmond, Va.,  (DC) Water, Richmond Habitat for Humanity, Richmond Association of Realtors and Virginia Supportive Housing.

She serves on numerous boards and committees. Hill-Christian received her bachelor’s degree in English and history from VCU and her MBA from Averett, where she has served as adjunct faculty and is currently a member of the Board of Trustees.


William Kilmer is the managing partner of C5 Capital, a venture capital fund with offices in Washington D.C. and London. He oversees the investment strategy for C5 Capital in the U.S., focusing on cyber security, cloud infrastructure and applied data analytics companies. He currently serves on the board of five companies in the US and Europe.

William was previously an operating partner at Mercato Partners, a growth stage venture fund focusing on technology and consumer investments. He was the Chairman and CEO of Public Engines, a VC-backed provider of cloud-based predictive analytics and data visualization software which was acquired by Motorola in 2015. Previously he served as CEO and CMO of two cyber security companies that were both acquired. He has also served as an interim CEO in two other startups.

Formerly a managing director of Intel Capital, William managed more than $400 million in invested capital and has invested in companies in the US, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. He formed a specialist venture fund focusing on investments in the Middle East and North Africa region. William has served as a non-executive director and advisor to VC funds, corporate venture capital groups, and startups and speaks and writes frequently the topics of innovation, strategy, and organizational culture. He holds three patents in computer networking and cyber security is the author of a book on computer networking. He will release an upcoming book on innovation and strategy titled Transformative, which will be published in 2021.


Alvaro Jimenez is an Averett student-athlete from Spain who plays on the tennis team, serves as president of the Averett Entrepreneurship and Innovation Club and is a member of Chi Alpha Sigma.