MBC Members

The MBC provides information, guidance and programs that enable business owners to understand how to work with the City of Virginia Beach. Additionally, you may find useful information relevant to contracting with other government agencies.

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Ms. Olga Torres, MBC Chair

Ms. Torres resides in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and is a Senior Marketing Consultant at La Selecta Radio 103.3 FM / WVXX 1050 AM, Hampton Roads Hispanic music stations.  She also offers Spanish/English Interpreting and Translation, and Business Consulting services through her Taína Consulting business.  Additionally, she is a business partner at Dragonfly Latina Productions, promoting events and causes for Latina women. Her broad work experience within the Hispanic community enables her to be a great asset her current employer and clients. Ms. Torres has worked in the interpreting and translation field for the past eleven years.  She truly enjoys the work, and looks for opportunities to take on the type of work that challenges her to continue to grow as a professional in this field. Her ability to always keep an open mind about developing market trends which serve the needs of her clients and the Hispanic community, is what led her to join the team at La Selecta Radio.

An active Partner with Dragonfly Latina Productions since 2015, she was Co-Director of the Miss Virginia Latina and Miss Teen Virginia Latina state pageants. The mission of these pageants is to empower young Latinas who are proud of their heritage and have a desire for achievement, recognition, and the betterment of themselves, their families and their communities.  This mission parallels Dragonfly Latina Productions' vision to provide an engaging and empowering platform for Latinas of all walks of life to shine.

Ms. Torres previously owned and operated Metropolitan Insurance Options, Inc., an independent insurance agency in Aurora, Colorado, where she also served her church community.  Her volunteer work came hand in hand with her work as an independent insurance agent, where 70% of her clients were Hispanics from diverse backgrounds. Because of her work and community involvement, she was recognized as Business Woman of the Year by the Denver Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in 2005.

Ms. Torres' volunteer work continues today.  She served as President of the Hampton Roads Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (HRHCC) for 5 years and is preparing to step into the supporting role of immediate past president.  Under her leadership since August 2012, the Chamber experienced positive growth, visibility, and recognition in the community.  In February 2014 Ms. Torres was recognized by the Urban League of Hampton Roads Young Professionals with a Silver Star of Diversity Award for her volunteer work with HRHCC. In the fall of 2015 she was welcomed as a member of the Board of Directors of the Hispanic Leadership Forum (HLF), whose Mission is to "focus on development of leaders within the Hispanic community through education, the arts, and cultural engagement".  Some of her other volunteer experience include the Virginia Beach Small Business Subcommittee, Hampton Roads Diversity & Inclusion Consortium, ERT Community Roundtable, AARP Virginia, and since 2012, her vision has been instrumental in establishing the Circle of Latinas of Hampton Roads, which serves as a resource to mainly Spanish speaking Latinas and their families.  In the spring of 2016 Ms. Torres completed a 12 week Board Development program, and was voted president of its graduating class - The United Way of South Hampton Roads' 20th Project Inclusion program.

Born and raised in Puerto Rico until the age of 13, she is very proud of her roots and culture, and has always volunteered with local Puerto Rican organizations wherever she has lived.  On her free time she enjoys spending time with her better half, her young nieces, nephews, and especially with her 6 grandchildren, and is looking forward to welcoming #7 very soon. She loves visiting her beloved Puerto Rico to spend time with her grandmother who will soon celebrate her 95th birthday, and also enjoys golfing, dancing, and spending time with good friends and family.

Mr. Damen Watson, MBC Vice Chair

Damen began his financial career in the heart of Wall Street, serving as a trader on the New York Stock Exchange. The experience was provoking and led him to look outside those walls and invest in a small business within the beverage industry.

In 2013, Damen found what he was looking for within the Philleo & Holladay Wealth Management Group of Wells Fargo Advisors, after two years with Merrill Lynch. He made his move because he wanted to help people and be a part of the traditions of this unique team.

In 2016, Damen joined his family's business, operating as the Quality Assurance Director at Caring Hands S.E.E. Of VA (a provider agency that advocates for individuals with special needs throughout Virginia). Damen's strategic oversight encompasses all organizational areas including but not limited to: patient/family satisfaction surveys, medication management, employee policies implementations, coordination of care, quality management, implementation and monitoring of performance improvement plans and strategies, and overall day to day operations.

A lifelong learner, Damen regularly studies the financial markets and maintains the Designated Market Maker- Series 21, Uniform Combined Law Exam Series 66, as well as the General Securities Representative Series 7- Damen attended the University of Miami, playing guard on their basketball team for two years and studied criminology and business law.

A native of the Tidewater area, Damen is a member of the Monticello Baptist Church. He is a member of the Minority Business Council of Virginia Beach and the Urban League of Young Professionals of Hampton Roads. He also volunteers with various activities in the area supported by Wells Fargo. Damen spends time with his extended family and friends throughout the Virginia Beach area and still enjoys playing basketball and regular exercise. He also loves to travel and keeps a target list of destinations.

Mr. Ed Hopper, MBC Financial Counselor

Ed  Hopper  is  the  CEO  and  founder  of  ALTOR  Processing  Systems  INC. His company was founded in 1999.  ALTOR is a full service provider that focuses  on  helping  businesses  with  all  forms  of credit  card/debit card/gift card and check processing. Mr. Hopper has been in Marketing, Sales and Service for over 26 years.   He has been in the credit card processing industry since 1995.  

On a more personal level, Mr. Hopper is a firm believer in giving back. He has volunteered and helped out with multiple charities including JDF, JA, Ronald McDonald House and The Noblemen.  

Mr.  Hopper  has  been  with  EMS  as  an  EMT  and  Teacher  (Proctor)  since 2013.  He is currently a member of the Virginia Beach Volunteer Rescue Squad (VBVRS) station 14.  He also serves as a Sergeant for The Virginia Beach Lifesaving Service at the oceanfront during the summer.

He has been appointed to the Minority Business council and assists with the Outreach Committee.  He resides in Virginia Beach with his wife of 24 years and their 2 children.

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Mr. H. "Ward" Valentine, Jr., MBC Secretarial Officer

Herman "Ward" Valentine, Jr. resides in Virginia Beach, Virginia with his family and currently serves as Business Development / Capture Manager (IT Services) for Flatwater Group, Inc. Flatwater Solutions is a Tribally Owned, SBA 8(a), HUBZone Government Relations and Professional Services Solutions firm Winnebago, NE. Mr. Valentine's responsibilities include further developing business relationships with C-level executives in professional services industry, municipal organizations, and Federal levels. As EVP for SMA Microsystems of Virginia, LLC where he was responsible for the development of market penetration strategies designed to target IBM C-suite decision makers in the commercial point-of-sale industry verticals. Mr. Valentine's business development skills played a crucial role in securing a 50m contract with the IBM Distributed Enterprise Sales Group for systems integration Pre-Delivery Preparation services in Raleigh, NC.  

While serving as Business Development Manager for 8(a), Virginia Beach firm he won sole-source contracts with United States Army (C4IM), located in Fort Campbell, KY and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) – United States Coast Guard (CEN3) Portsmouth, VA. Mr. Valentine, Jr. also served as Business Analyst where he managed the U.S. Navy Expeditionary Combat Command project and provided project management support to companies located in Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia through the Virginia Domestic Markets Expansion Program (VA-DMEP).

Mr. Valentine, Jr. holds a Master of Science degree in Management Information Systems (MSMS) and graduated Cum Laude from Strayer University.  He also holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Internetworking Technology (BSIT). He is certified from Defense Acquisition University - ACQ-101 in government procurement, ISO 9001 quality assurance, and received an outstanding award from PMI Hampton Roads for volunteer service to the organization.

In addition to serving on the VB MBC Mr. Valentine also serves as Chairperson for Society of American Military Engineers (SAME) – Hampton Roads K-12 Math/STEM Committee and Executive Committee Member Future of Hampton Roads, Inc.

Ms. Frances Knight Thompson, MBC Secretarial Officer

Frances Knight Thompson was educated in the Chesapeake Public Schools and is a graduate of Hampton University, where she received a Bachelor of Science degree in Music Education.  She also holds a Master of Science in Education degree in Guidance and Counseling from Old Dominion University and an Endorsement in Gifted Education from the University of Virginia. 

Mrs. Thompson began her career as an elementary school music teacher with Virginia Beach City Public Schools and taught for 15 years.  She continued her career with VBCPS as an Elementary School Counselor for another 15 years. Mrs. Thompson retired in 2014 from VBCPS after more than 40 years of service. At her retirement, she was assigned as Guidance Department Chair for Kemps Landing Magnet School, formerly a Virginia Beach middle school for intellectually gifted students.  Following retirement, Mrs. Thompson worked part-time in the VBCPS Office of Equity Affairs as Project Manager, coordinating professional development for teachers and staff, managing the planning for the VBCPS African American Male Summit, facilitating Candid Conversations about Race, and assisting the Director of Equity Affairs in the daily operations of the office.

During her professional career, Mrs. Thompson was awarded Kemps Landing Magnet School's Teacher of The Year. In 2010, she received the Humanitarian Award from the Virginia Beach Human Rights Commission, and also received the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Leaders Award presented by the Urban League of Hampton Roads.  Even in retirement, her passion in education continues to be increasing the identification of students in underrepresented populations for gifted programs, as well as resolving the issue of the disparity in the academic achievement of African American males and their counterparts, a local, state, and national concern for all educators.

Ms. Jaketa Clark-Thompson, MBC Member

Jaketa Clark Thompson is a wife, a mother of four, and the proud owner of an award-winning, full-service advertising and marketing agency (Omnia Unlimited LLC). She started her journey as a business owner at the age of 18 when she began working with Fortune 500 companies on their experiential brand activations and has worked in the industry ever since. Marketing and advertising are her true passions, and she loves working with businesses of all different sizes to take their vision to the next level. 

Jaketa enjoys spending a great deal of her time serving her community. She currently serves as Chairman of the Board of the Virginia Beach Jaycees, on the VB Board of Directors for the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce, Marketing and Outreach Director for the Atlantic Avenue Association, and as Interim Executive Director for the Virginia African American Cultural Center. In addition, she also serves as a board member for Lynnhaven River Now, Pandas Fight Against Cancer, a founding member of Listen Learn Love, a member of the Virginia Beach Kiwanis,  and is an appointee to the Mayor's IDEA Commission.

Mr. Cavelle Mollineaux, MBC Member

Originally from the small twin islands of Trinidad and Tobago, Cavelle migrated to Boston, MA in 2001 at which time he enlisted in the US Navy and was stationed in the Hampton Roads area. Following his service aboard the USS Nassau-LHA 4 from 2001-2005, he then pursued his Bachelor's Degree in Finance/Marketing at ODU where he graduated in May 2009. Cavelle obtained his real estate license in 2010 and has built a successful career as an individual sales agent, and then as a team leader, which has now brought him to opening the doors of his very own full-service real estate brokerage firm ONYX Realty Professionals. He is passionate about investing and pouring back into the community. He is also the treasurer of the Caribbean People Organization - which focuses on raising awareness for domestic violence and organizes numerous charity events, with their largest and most known/signature event being The Virginia Beach Caribbean Jerk Festival. He is a dedicated husband and father of 5 children.  

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Ms. Karlaa Gregory, MBC Member

Karlaa V. Gregory has been a Virginia Beach resident since 2015 but a lifelong member of the Hampton Roads community. She earned her B.A in Marketing Communications/Public Relations from Old Dominion University in 2012 and as a Digital Marketing professional, she prides herself on staying up-to-date with the newest digital marketing, communications, and public relations. She has successfully worked with various local non-profits, small businesses, and corporations to generate leads, donations, increase online visibility, and raise brand awareness.  

Karlaa's work in her profession and community has earned her honors such as:

  • The Unsung Hero award presented by the South Hampton Roads Pan-Hellenic Council (2016)
  • Millennial on the Move awardee presented by CoVa Biz (2019)
  • Top 40 Under 40 honoree presented by Inside Business (2021)

Karlaa was appointed to the Minority Business Council in October 2021 and looks forward to working with the council and community to help bring more awareness regarding opportunities and training to minority and women-owned small businesses. Along with serving on the MBC, Karlaa also serves as a Commissioner on the Virginia Beach Clean Community Commission. She also volunteers with the Norfolk Alumnae Chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc and has held various board positions in her tenure since joining in 2011 at ODU. The organization strives to assist women and youth in need with their local programming, community service initiatives, and donation drives. In her free time, Karlaa enjoys spending time with her husband, pets, friends, and loved ones. She loves traveling, trying new foods, wine tastings, and a good book. 

Ms. Krisha Loftus, MBC Member

A Virginia Beach native, Krisha grew up as a member of a Navy affiliated family, and is a graduate of Virginia Beach City Public Schools. She holds an undergraduate degree from Randolph Macon College and her graduate degrees from Regent University and Old Dominion University. She resides in Virginia Beach with her wife of 8 years and their menagerie of household pets.

Krisha began her teaching career as a high school Biology teacher with Norfolk Public Schools, where she taught for 9 years before moving to Virginia Beach City Public Schools. For the past 15 years, she has served VBCPS as both a general and special education teacher and is currently a Library Media Specialist for the school system. During her teaching career, she has been honored as a Distinguished Educator, been awarded Teacher of the Year at Green Run High School, and achieved National Board Certification.

In addition to her service to the public school system, Krisha’s entrepreneurial endeavors began as a sole-proprietor of a small pet grooming business in 2007 and have since expanded to include ownership of Virginia Beach’s sole LGBTQIA restaurant and nightclub, as well as a partnership in a local pet retail business.

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Ms. Aekta Javia, MBC Member

Aekta Javia is a Virginia Beach native having grown up in the area since moving here at an early age. Living here for most of her life she has seen first hand the area grow and continue to thrive.  Attending Old Dominion University to receive dual degrees in Psychology and Business Admistration, she went on to work at the Oceanfront and grew to be a Director of Marketing and Operations at Global Hospitality LLC. Last year, she completed her Masters of Science in Marketing at the College of William and Mary. In 2022, she officially launched her Event Planning Company, Amaari Events, that is based out of Virginia Beach and hosts events nationally and internationally. A first generation American and child of immigrants, diversity and opportunity are close to her heart. She particularly enjoys volunteering with children's charities and youth sports and can often be found coaching on the sidelines. 

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Ms. Tara L. Jones, MBC Member

Tara Jones has been in the banking industry for over 23 years. She joined Fulton Bank, N.A in 2006 and is currently Vice President Commercial Relationship Manager. Tara's focus has been on building business relationships through partnership, mentorship, and strong communication. One of the ways Tara has shown her strong commitment for assisting with the growth of business owners is through financial literacy.

Tara graduated from Virginia Tech and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management. Tara is active in the community and has volunteered her time to the Food Bank, United Way, and SCORE. She currently holds a board seat with Virginia Beach Chamber of Commerce, Survivor Ventures, and the Regional Steering Committee for BANK ON Hampton Roads. She is a proud graduate of LEAD Hampton Roads in 2000 aka 'Best Class Ever".  Tara was appointed to the Virginia Beach Minority Business Council in 2022. She has spent a vast amount of her banking career working with small business owners. Tara is looking forward to working with MBC members/and or supporters to help to continue to create awareness and opportunities for minority and women-owned businesses.

Tara has made Hampton Roads her home for the last 16 years. She is a proud parent of two grown children.