By Linda Cicoira
Three men associated with the Eastern Shore were deemed by Virginia Business Magazine to be among the top 500 most powerful leaders in Virginia.
Gov. Ralph Northam, a native of Onancock; Chad Ballard, president of Ballard Fish & Oyster Co. Inc., in Cheriton; and Daniel A. Hoffler, founder and executive chairman Armada Hoffler Properties Inc., who lives in Cape Charles, made “The 2020 Power List.”
“Some of Virginia Business’ other lists have been less expansive — on purpose,” according to the publication. “For example, our list of the 50 Most Influential Virginians in March’s Big Book excludes politicians and university presidents on the basis that they would crowd out many influential business people. For obvious reasons, December’s Legal Elite list includes only lawyers. Our list of 100 People to Meet is limited to only those who are, in our view, interesting.”
“A list of 500 leaders gives us a little more walking-around room to recognize people,” the article continued. “Yes, they can be influential. Yes, they can be politicians or academic leaders. And yes, they can be lawyers. And yes, they are also interesting.”
Ballard is the 5th generation to work at the family’s 120-year-old-plus business. Before joining his forefathers, he worked in investment banking with BB&T Capital Markets. The Northampton business is the parent company of Cherrystone Aqua-Farms and Chincoteague Shellfish Farms, which produce Watch House Point, Chincoteague Cultured Salt, Misty Point, James River and Chunu oysters, as well as clams.
Ballard serves on the board of directors of the Virginia Shellfish Growers Association and is the state representative for the East Coast Shellfish Growers Association. He is also a member of the Young Presidents Organization and the Virginia Seafood Council. Ballard owns Cherrystone Family Camping Resort in Cape Charles. In April, he was appointed to Gov. Northam’s COVID-19 Business Task Force, which provides input for reopening during the pandemic.
Northam, a pediatric neurologist, “has had plenty of ups and downs while managing the COVID-19 crisis, including taking criticism from Republicans over his mandates that Virginians must wear facial coverings indoors,” the magazine stated. “He’s been in the spotlight increasingly during the pandemic, tapping into his public platform during regular news conferences and navigating the perils of reopening the commonwealth for commerce.”
He is the state’s 73rd governor, and was a state senator from 2008 to 2014 and lieutenant governor from 2014 to 2018. Northam said he will retire to the Eastern Shore when his four-year term is over. Governors in Virginia cannot be elected for a second term.
“Despite many pundits and politicos pronouncing his political career dead after a yearbook blackface scandal captured national press in February 2019, Northam rebranded himself as a warrior for racial equity,” the magazine continued. “He added a chief diversity officer to his cabinet, is making Juneteenth a permanent paid state holiday, and quickly waded into the debate over removing Confederate iconography, vowing to take down the state-owned statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee on Richmond’s historic Monument Avenue. Northam also has seen his party grow in power, recapturing the General Assembly for the first time in a generation.”
According to the “Power List,” Hoffler’s “real estate investment trust develops, builds, acquires, and manages office, retail and multifamily properties. Earlier this year it was valued at $784 million, but, as with so many other businesses, COVID-19 has posed a challenge.
In March, Armada Hoffler deferred three projects because of the virus. Recently, a deal to sell seven of its shopping centers for $106.5 million went through for $90 million. In 1987, Hoffler was named an “Outstanding Citizen of Hampton Roads.” He has served on the UVA’s board of visitors and is a former chairman of the Hampton Roads Partnership. In 2005, he resigned as chairman of the board of the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries over a controversial safari trip he took with three department officials, the magazine reported.