Citizen of the Month: Vonda Chappell

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A native of the Kempsville area of Virginia Beach, Vonda W. Chappell moved to Chesapeake in 1994 when she was in her third year of law school at Regent. “Chesapeake is home now,” she says. “At this point, I have no plans to leave Chesapeake.”


Which is fortunate for Chesapeake. Chappell, who resides in the Hickory area with her husband Joe Scaleo and her 16-year-old son Owen, is a partner at Kaufman and Canoles law firm in Greenbrier where she practices trust and estate planning and administration. But Chappell does so much more. She jumped into community involvement with both feet and maintains a schedule many would find exhausting.

“Between her family and her law practice, she finds time to do the volunteer work of a dozen people, do it well, and always with a smile on her face,” said Chesapeake City Council member Debbie Ritter. Ritter and Chappell had known each other for years when by pure happenstance they joined the Chesapeake Rotary Club on the same day. They offered to help out with the Chesapeake First Citizen Award dinner, and “the next day we found out we were the new chairmen.” Held annually in September, this year’s First Citizen dinner is “a highlight event for Chesapeake’s 50th anniversary,” said Chappell.  The proceeds provide scholarships for Chesapeake public high school students.

Rotary International is a service-oriented organization whose motto is “Service Above Self.” There are 1.2 million Rotarians involved in 34,000 local clubs worldwide. In addition to being a member, Chappell now also serves on the board for the Chesapeake Rotary Club. Chesapeake Rotary president Roland Davis said of Chappell, “She’s a tremendous, very conscientious, dependable person who does a lot for the community.”

Her work with the Rotary Club has involved Chappell in numerous community service projects. In addition to being a co-chair for the First Citizen Award’s planning committee, she also serves as the co-chair for community volunteers for the annual Chesapeake Wine Festival held in October. Last year, 13 different charities benefited from the proceeds of the festival.

Chappell also helps with the Rotary’s Paint Your Heart Out event held every April. More than 500 volunteers set aside one day to paint for low-income elderly and disabled residents who can no longer maintain their homes.  Chappell coordinates meals and the after-party for the volunteers.

Ray Conner, Commissioner of the Revenue for the City of Chesapeake, said, “I have worked closely with Vonda on a variety of community projects over the years. She is extremely organized, patient, poised, and attentive to detail. Her leadership skills are outstanding.”

Organized and dependable seem to be the go-to words used by the people who know Chappell and describe her as a go-to kind of person. “Vonda is always the first person to step up and volunteer, no matter how big or small the task,” said Ritter. “She makes whatever she’s working on special and perfect.”

“She’s very passionate about Chesapeake,” said Brenda Kuntz, Director of the Chesapeake Regional Health Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Chesapeake Regional Medical Center. A member of the foundation’s board, Chappell is chairperson for the foundation’s 2013 and 2014 galas. The event, held annually in January, is the foundation’s chief fundraiser. “She’s very caring and committed to supporting the hospital,” Kuntz added. “And she wears a mean cape—she’s our Supergirl.” Kuntz explained how for the 2013 “A Night Among Superheroes” themed gala, those in a attendance were treated to a video with Chappell singing—in a Supergirl costume.

With so many activities, “Supergirl” seems to describe more than just Chappell’s gala costume. “She’s very organized, juggling a lot of balls at the same time,” said Conner. “Vonda’s a very, very talented person. She keeps her cool and gets the job done. She’s an absolute joy to know and work with.”

“It’s very unusual that one person can do it all and do it so well,” said Ritter. “All” also includes various positions in other community groups. Chappell serves on the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce board and the Chesapeake Transportation Toll Facility Advisory Committee.

All that, and she makes time to attend sporting events at Grassfield High School where her soon-to-be-junior son plays on the varsity football team and throws discus and shot put. Chappell has a sincere love for Chesapeake and the people who live here. “It still has a very small town feel where you know a lot of your neighbors.”

“Vonda is a very special person,” said Bob Jones, who has known Chappell for more than 15 years. They were coworkers at three law firms, including Chappell’s current position at Kaufman and Canoles. “She’s a genuinely good person dedicated to her work, dedicated to her family, and dedicated to her community.”

Supergirl indeed!

Congratulations Vonda Chappell on being named Citizen of the Month.  We appreciate your dedication to public service.  The city of Chesapeake is incredibly fortunate to have you as a leader in our community.

The Citizen welcomes your recommendations for Citizen of the Month.  Help us recognize and honor outstanding community leaders who are making a difference inour city—and the world.  Email your nominations to:

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