Mallenia Renee Foster of Portsmouth (right), an advisor for The Mission Continues Women Veterans Program, has been named the 2020 Virginia Women Veterans Change Maker of the Year, and Taniki Richard (left), founder and owner of JT Inspire LLC, has been named Virginia Women Veterans Trailblazer of the Year.
The awards were announced June 19 during the 2020 Virginia Women Veterans Virtual Summit hosted by the Virginia Department of Veterans Services (VDVS) in collaboration with the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC).
The Virginia Women Veterans Change Maker of the Year Award recognizes exceptional commitment to the advancement of Virginia women veterans through the establishment of innovative programs or nurturing networks. The 2020 winner, Renee Foster, a US Navy veteran, has acted as an advisor and motivational coach for her fellow women veterans in the Commonwealth and throughout the United States for more than five years. In March 2020, she helped launch a five-month program designed to build skills around five leadership focus areas to assist women veterans to strive for leadership positions in the civilian world.
The Virginia Women Veterans Trailblazer Award recognizes creativity, vision, courage, commitment and tenacity in advocating for and creating changes to improve the quality of life for Virginia’s women veterans. The 2020 winner, Taniki Richard, was cited for her combination of creativity, military background, and love of community and for her work as an inspirational speaker, podcast host and author. Richard served in the US Marine Corps for eleven years and along with her husband Brandon, also a Marine veteran, founded JT Inspire LLC, an entertainment and media company that provides speakers, public speaking workshops, and hosts community events.
“We are pleased to recognize Renee Foster and Taniki Richard for their exceptional contributions in assisting and motivating their fellow women veterans,” said Beverly VanTull, Women Veterans Program Manager at the Virginia Department of Veterans Services. We congratulate them and thank them for their continued commitment to women veterans here in the Commonwealth and throughout the United States.”
The theme of the seventh annual Virginia Women Veterans Summit was Empowered: Collaborating and Creating Champions of Change. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, this was the first Summit to be held as a virtual online event. More than 2,000 women veterans and others participated in the Summit June 17-19, 2020. The two-and-a-half day event included more than fifty speakers and panel presentations on topics of importance to women veterans in Virginia and throughout the United States.
Other participating Summit partners included the StreetShares Foundation, COMCAST, Dominion Energy, Navy Federal Credit Union, PenFed Credit Union, Employee Support of Guard and Reserves (ESGR) and more.