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Honest Soul Yoga Wins First Pitch Contest For Women Veteran-Owned Businesses At 2019 Virginia Women Veterans Summit

Governor Northam Presents Grants to Four Finalists

 Recognized for Their Entrepreneurship

Honest Soul Yoga of Alexandria, Virginia was the first place winner in the Entrepreneurial Pitch Contest at the 6th Annual Virginia Women Veterans Summit in Hampton on May 16.

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam presented a check for $5,000 to Honest Soul Yoga owner and United States Air Force veteran Suzie Mills to help her expand her business, which she founded in 2013 to provide classes and workshops throughout Northern Virginia to promote mental and physical wellness.

Honest Soul Yoga was one of four finalists in the pitch competition for businesses owned by a woman veteran or military spouse.  Each finalist also received a grant as noted. Funds for the grants were provided by The PenFed Foundation and First Data Corporation.  The other three finalists were:

2nd Place and $2,500 grant: Drive Rehab Center of Excellence (DRCE) of Chantilly. Founded in 2008 by U.S. Navy veteran Tammy Phipps, DRCE provides driving training and auto-adaptive equipment to veterans and others with disabilities and injuries to help them regain mobility through driving.

3rd Place and $1,500 grant: Troopster of Norfolk. Founded in 2015 by U.S. Navy veteran Chelsea Mandello, Troopster is a non-profit that packs and ships “care packages” to thousands of deployed service members throughout the world.

4th Place and $1,000 grant: Aesop Technologies of Norfolk. Founded in 2017 by U.S. Navy veteran Nisha Witt, Aesop Technologies utilizes a unique solar-based system to generate electricity. It works with organizations to provide these systems to persons in developing nations without access to electricity.

Seventeen companies entered this first-ever women veteran entrepreneurial competition sponsored by the Virginia Department of Veterans Services (DVS). The four finalists were chosen to compete in a live “pitch competition” based on the format of the popular “Shark Tank” television program.   The finalists attended a “boot camp” to refine their pitches conducted by Seda Goff, Director of Veterans Entrepreneurship at the PenFed Foundation.  Judges for the completion were Monique Adams of 757 Angels, Emily McMahan of Capitol Post, Jennifer O’ Daniel of CIT Gap Funds, and J.D. Meyers II of Cox Communications, the premier sponsor of the 2019 Virginia Women Veterans Summit.

“I join Governor Northam in congratulating these four veteran-owned business that were finalists in our pitch contest competition. I know it was extremely difficult for the judges to choose the rank of the winning pitches as all were outstanding,” said John L. Newby II, DVS Commissioner. “We have already decided to continue this competition on an annual basis as it is part of our mission to encourage veteran entrepreneurship throughout the Commonwealth.”

More than 800 attended the 2019 Virginia Women Veterans Summit at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Hampton Convention Center May 16 and 17.  Virginia is home to more than 104,000 women veterans and the purpose of the annual Summit is to bring together women veterans, employers, community leaders and federal, state and local government agencies to raise awareness about the services and benefits available specifically for women veterans. For information, please visit

About the Virginia Department of Veterans Services

The Virginia Department of Veterans Services (DVS) is a state government agency with more than 40 locations across the Commonwealth of Virginia.  DVS traces its history to 1928 and the establishment of the Virginia War Service Bureau to assist Virginia’s World War I veterans.  Today, DVS assists veterans and their families in filing claims for federal veterans benefits; provides veterans and family members with linkages to services including behavioral healthcare, housing, employment, education and other programs. The agency operates two long-term care facilities offering in-patient skilled nursing care, Alzheimer’s/memory care, and short-term rehabilitation for veterans; provides an honored final resting place for veterans and their families at three state veterans cemeteries. It also oversees the Virginia War Memorial, the Commonwealth’s tribute to Virginia’s men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice from World War II to the present. For more information, please visit