11. James E. Ukrop
There's good reason to panic: Jim Ukrop and his brother, Bobby, have reportedly put namesake Ukrop's Super Markets up for sale, and that likely means the end of Richmond's greatest brand. Jim, the elder brother, has always been the savvier of the two Ukrops when it comes to business acumen, and he's largely responsible for Ukrop's most important innovations (see customer value cards, First Market Bank and the chain's sophisticated prepared-foods operation). The company has been stagnant, however, for the last few years as its competitors got stronger. But don't blame Jimmy, who's been out of the day-to-day business for years. He's still chairman of the Ukrop Foundation, which doled out $1.6 million last year alone to Richmond-based nonprofits. He's an influential leader, pushing high-speed rail and other projects he believes will benefit the region.
12. Mayor Dwight C. Jones
He's mayor, what more can we say? For that matter, what more can he say? He hasn't said much in his first seven months in office. Sure, he's smoothed ruffled feathers around town, worked to patch regional hard feelings, defused his predecessor's budget bomb and finally appointed his administrative team. But what's he really done? Jones took no public position during the debate over a downtown baseball stadium — though reportedly he facilitated key talks — and despite his promises to separate church from state, sources say the pull of the pulpit remains strong: “He's here preaching just about every other Sunday,” a source tells us. Now, if he'd only spend more time at the bully pulpit.
13. Robert S. Ukrop
The younger Ukrop brother has been running the supermarket chain for years, and recent news that the 72-year-old business is up for sale scares the hell out of us. Bobby Ukrop has always been more of a missionary than his older brother (No. 11), a bit of a do-gooder. He's extremely involved in the community, giving away millions of dollars to scores of nonprofits and raising money for plenty of others. Chances are the giving will continue even if the company is sold (one analyst values the company at $248 million). Ukrop sent a letter to employees dismissing the sales talk as “rumors and speculation.” But you don't send out a prospectus, as Food World reports, unless you're looking to bail.
14. The Gottwald Family
Still one of Richmond's most powerful families, the Gottwalds seem to have less cachet than they used to. The family, whose wealth is valued at more than $700 million, is still active in philanthropy — it's a big supporter of CenterStage, for example — and is a big Republican booster. And NewMarket Corp., the family business run by Thomas E. Gottwald that includes Ethyl Corp. and Afton Chemical Corp., recently reported a record second quarter. With $50 million in profits from petroleum additives in the first quarter of this year, compared with $37.7 million a year ago, the company has rebounded nicely from a shaky 2008.
15. Edward L. Ayers
University of Richmond President Ed Ayers has yet to fully leverage the goodwill he's amassed, but when he does it will erupt forth in a fountain of happy-face hearts and twinkly stars. In just two years, he's backed up the treacle, though, with solid accomplishments, including a new university satellite on Broad Street offering free social and legal services to low-income clients, bringing a high-profile Civil War conference to campus and giving more financial aid to students despite the bad market. The good witch of the West End looks set to continue building momentum, as long as that open presidency at the University of Virginia doesn't lure him back to Charlottesville.
16. Peter J. Bernard
Peter Bernard, president and chief executive of Bon Secours Virginia, which operates four hospitals in Richmond and three in Hampton Roads, has guided the nonprofit through a recession that has people postponing medical care. The hospital chain run by nuns has also seen its net income jump this year from $60 million to $85 million, thanks in no small part to Bernard. Did we mention he also plans to expand Bon Secours' newest hospital in Chesterfield County, St. Francis Medical Center, into a hospital town of sorts, with houses and apartments? Great idea, but the motorized wheelchairs make traffic a nightmare.
17. Margaret G. Lewis
In a time when corporate America's been batting down the hatches, HCA is investing $100 million in an expansion of Henrico Doctors' Hospital, a project that recently broke ground. It also just spent $30 million on the Thomas Johns Cancer Hospital at the Johnston-Willis Campus of CJW Medical center. Margaret Lewis, who moved away for a while, returned last year, getting her footing back in Richmond from her Fan home. As president of HCA's capital division and senior executive of HCA Virginia, she oversees the third-largest private employer in Richmond (6,600 full-time employees) and her company runs the most health-care facilities in the region.
18. The Markel Family and Alan I. Kirshner
While many of Richmond's corporate fiefdoms have been taken apart by the economic meltdown (see LandAmerica, Circuit City), Markel Corp., run by the Markel family and Chief Executive Alan I. Kirshner, has emerged relatively unscathed. The company's stock has stabilized lately, steadily pushing upward of $300 thanks in no small part to resident investment guru, Tom Gaynor, a Warren Buffett disciple who's revered on Wall Street. The Markels are also big on the local charity circuit — Steve Markel and his wife gave $10 million to Virginia Commonwealth University's School of Business.
19. John H. Luke
It may be in the business of selling dead trees — at least, in a more useful state — but packaging company MeadWestvaco Corp. has made its new downtown headquarters an ode to green-friendly construction and sustainability. Its chairman and chief executive, John Luke, meanwhile, has been moving into local circles since the company's arrival. Some 600 workers are expected to start moving into the new building late this year and early next. With Richmond's loss of corporate giants, it makes the newcomers all the more valuable.
20. Michael Rao
Heir to the sprawling urban-campus kingdom of Virginia Commonwealth University, Michael Rao, who took over July 1, hasn't been around long enough to fully consolidate his inherited empire. He's got some, er, big shoes to fill. Following predecessor Eugene Trani, who built VCU from the bits and pieces of an uninspiring commuter college, won't be easy. Rao's curriculum vitae is an impressive read, with a heavy emphasis on the same sort of land-use and program-building that remade Richmond as Trani Town. Under Rao's leadership, Central Michigan University even created a hospital. So far Rao's been low-profile, but hopes are high that Trani's shoes will fit him nicely.
21. Jeffrey M. Lacker
While the Federal Reserve tries to pull the nation out of credit-swapped quicksand, Richmond Federal Reserve President Jeffrey M. Lacker has a direct hand in the action. Before the economy hit an iceberg, he was an ardent inflation hawk, often a lone dissenter, trying to persuade his colleagues to raise interest rates. Now he's trying to keep the Fed focused on maintaining its political independence. In his free time he serves as director of the World Affairs Council of Greater Richmond and in leadership positions with Venture Richmond, the Richmond Jewish Foundation and Junior Achievement of Central Virginia.
22. Beverley W. “Booty” Armstrong
City Council members still call him for advice, but Booty Armstrong has largely relegated himself to the sidelines in local politics. He was negotiating behind the scenes to help bring peace to Wilder's City Hall, but he's been on the outside looking in with the Jones administration. As Bill Goodwin's partner at CCA Industries, he still has awfully deep pockets, and recently took over as chairman of the all-powerful Community Foundation. He's also high up on Rep. Eric Cantor's speed dial. He has the weight to throw around — if and when he decides to rejoin the fray.
23. James J.L. Stegmaier
When asked recently how Chesterfield County's sales-tax revenues were looking, James Stegmaier's answer seemed like one calculated to come back to haunt him: “It can't get any worse.” With the economy tanking and county revenues overly dependent on residential growth — not to mention far too many empty lots and unfinished subdivisions — Stegmaier has stanched bleeding with cuts to county staff and services. He fits in nicely with an increasingly progressive Board of Supervisors, too. Still, he's no Virgil Hazelett.
24. Delegate M. Kirkland Cox
General Assembly-watchers have been transfixed in years past with Delegate Kirk Cox's assent into the upper echelons of party power, but this year it sounds like constituents see his leadership position as a distraction from local issues, and insiders point to a more Balkanized caucus. Even so, if he helps maintain control over the House of Delegates for redistricting, he could help keep Richmond's representation fractured and ineffective (10 different legislators represent pieces of Richmond in the General Assembly, making it no one's first priority) hobbling the city for another decade.
25. Kathy Graziano
Commanding the allegiance of a majority voting block of fellow City Council members, Council President Kathy Graziano stands ready to play yin to Mayor Dwight Jones's yang. So far, it's mostly been yawn. But the protracted council-mayor honeymoon hasn't seen Graziano sleeping on the job. Once a statewide Republican politico, her inner hippie grandma has emerged. She's the financial cheerleader behind the popular South of the James farmers' market and advocates similar satellite markets throughout the city. She's also hammered out agreements that led to placement of the sprawling riverfront James River Park into a conservation easement that's a first of its kind in Virginia.