Colonel James L. “Jay” Williams, Jr. retired from the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) on January 31, 2023, after an 18 year and seven month career.  During his tenure at VMI, he served as the VMI Post Engineer in charge of the VMI Physical Plant from 2004 – 2017 and the VMI Emergency Manager from 2017 – 2023.  He was promoted to the rank of Colonel, Virginia Militia effective August 1, 2013.

Colonel Williams entered the Air Force in November 1983 upon graduation from VMI and the Air Force ROTC program.  He served over 21 years on active duty before retiring September 1, 2004 at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.  He was a career Air Force Civil Engineer holding positions as design engineer, environmental engineer, Chief of Resources and Requirements, Chief of Engineering and Design, Chief of Operations, Engineering Staff Officer at Air Force Special Operations Command, the Pentagon and Air National Guard Headquarters, and Civil Engineer Squadron Commander.

Colonel Williams received his Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from VMI in 1983 and Master of Public Administration from Troy State University in 1990.  He holds an Engineer-In-Training Certificate (Florida, 1992), a Professional Engineer License (Virginia, 1998), and Professional Emergency Manager certification (Virginia, 2022).

During his time at VMI, Colonel Williams was heavily involved in the APPA organization.  In 2012, Colonel Williams and Mr. Randolph Hare co-hosted the 2012 SRAPPA Regional Conference – “CONNECTIONS” on the VMI Post and the Washington and Lee University campus.  At this conference, a select group met one evening and made the commitment to re-energize the VAPPA organization.  During his APPA tenure, he held positions in SRAPPA and APPA to include SRAPPA President and APPA junior and senior board member, participated in the 2015 Thought Leader Series in New Orleans, Louisiana, published an article in the January/February 2017 APPA Facilities Manager magazine, and continues to maintain his APPA Certified Educational Facilities Professional (CEFP) credential.

Colonel Williams is actively involved in the community and enjoys family, church, and outdoor activities.  In addition to being on the Carilion Clinic Systems Board of Directors in Roanoke, he is the Chairman of the Carilion Rockbridge Community Hospital Board of Directors, serves on the Rockbridge Economic Development Authority (EDA) Committee, and the Rockbridge Area Recreational Organization (RARO) Youth Baseball Committee.  In 2022, Colonel Williams stepped off the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors after serving for 9 years during which time he served as the 2018 president.

Colonel Williams is married to the former Ellen Paige Andrews of Fort Walton Beach, Florida.  Jay and Paige have three children — Merryn Bishop (25; Virgina Tech Class of ’20), 2Lt James Lee III “Trey” (23; VMI Class of ‘22), and Olivia Adair (19; Rockbridge County High School Class of ’22; JMU Class of ‘26).  Jay and Paige reside in Rockbridge County, Virginia.

Session Title:


Craig B. Whelden

Major General, U.S. Army (ret), Whelden Associates



Craig’s leadership journey began as an Eagle Scout at age 14. Thirty years later, he was the youngest General in the United States Army.

Combined with another nine years as a member of the Senior Executive Service (SES) with the U.S. Marine Corps, he has led thousands of Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, and Civilians. In 2011, he was inducted into the Purdue University Tri-Service ROTC Hall of Fame.

In March 2019, he published Leadership: The Art of Inspiring People to Be Their Best, winning four national book awards and attaining #1 international bestseller status on Amazon.

Craig is now a Global Fortune 500 Speaker and lives in Bluffton, South Carolina.

Session Title:

Inspirational Leadership in Challenging Times


Plenary Speaker
Wednesday, November 1, 2023 at 9:15 AM

Largely drawn from his three-time national award winning and #1 international best-selling book, Leadership: The Art of Inspiring People to Be Their Best, Craig passes on decades of leadership and life lessons — both good and bad – told in a compelling and sometimes very personal way A “master story-teller,” thousands around the world have heard his inspirational message and have read his book.

Jones Loflin

Speaker and Author, HOPE Inc.


Jones Loflin has made it his life’s work to help individuals make the best choices with their time so they can thrive. As a professional speaker, author, and coach, he has helped countless people find the clarity and confidence they need to achieve what is most important to them. His clients include Choice Hotels, Clayton Homes, Tractor Supply, and the United States Military. Jones resides in North Carolina with his wonderful wife Lisa. They have two perfect daughters and a really cool son-in-law.

Session Title:

What To Do About Too Much To Do


Banquet Dinner Guest Speaker
Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Let’s be honest. Your proverbial plate is already running over with all you have to do. Even worse, your mind is racing with fresh ideas for improvement and growth. If only there was a solution to this dilemma that didn’t involve cloning yourself. Our speaker today says the answer is to run off and join the circus… at least mentally.

Using the model of a successful circus, this highly engaging presentation will equip you to better manage your time and energy to accomplish what’s most important to you. Get ready to say, “May all my days be circus days!”