Presenting the 2021 Women of Western Wake

From corporate success to selfless service, these dynamic leaders have accomplished great things in their chosen fields.

Here, our honorees share their stories about taking risks, finding rewards, following your heart, and working hard to better our world.

Veronica Bent

Rotary Volunteer and Financial Planner at Pinnacle

The self-described “servant-leader” has been a member of the Rotary Club of Morrisville for 13 years. Recently selected as the Rotary’s 2023-2024 District 7710 Governor, Bent will oversee the efforts of Rotarians at over 50 clubs in the Triangle, as they work to promote peace, fight disease and support education worldwide.

Bent works as a banker and small business lender at Pinnacle Financial Partners in Cary, and also volunteers with the Morrisville Chamber of Commerce.

“My service work has won me numerous awards, but it’s what it has done for people’s lives. …It’s really the most beneficial feeling, how such a small gesture could change a person’s whole world.”

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Chavi Khanna Koneru

Executive Director of N.C. Asian Americans Together

Koneru, a lawyer specializing in civil rights and voting rights, wanted to change the world. After working in Washington, D.C., she returned to the Triangle and soon recognized a vital need in her own community. In North Carolina, the Asian American community was growing rapidly, but language barriers prevented many citizens from voting.

In response, Koneru co-founded North Carolina Asian Americans Together, a nonpartisan group with the goal of increasing civic engagement in the state’s pan-Asian community. Her work contributed to record turnout of N.C. Asian American voters in the 2020 election, particularly among first-time voters.

“What our community wants is to be seen. They want their stories as Asian Americans in North Carolina told. We have a history here.”

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Matty Lazo-Chadderton

Diversity Outreach Consultant

For decades, Lazo-Chadderton has been a powerful voice for North Carolina children. Inspired by her son, David, who was diagnosed with autism as a child, she would visit North Carolina legislators to advocate for better education.

“Education is the best tool. When you have a sound and basic education, you apply that through your whole life.”

She became a lobbyist and education advocate for the N.C. Justice Center in the late 1990s, and for 10 years she served as director for Hispanic and Latino Affairs for N.C. Sen. Marc Basnight. Most recently, Lazo-Chadderton was the Deputy Director of Public Engagement for Gov. Roy Cooper’s office before retiring this year.

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Jackie Locklear

Owner of Locklear Roofing

Known for her determination and tenaciousness, Locklear has spent the last 26 years running and expanding the company her father founded in 1980.

“When I started with my dad, his office was the garage, and my office was my third bedroom. Now we’re in a 10,000-plus-square-foot warehouse and office.”

Locklear has overcome many challenges as a female leader in a predominantly male industry, but she’s most proud of her involvement with the Frankie Lemmon School & Developmental Center. Over the years, Locklear Roofing has also supported Operation Coming Home, Habitat for Humanity, Flight of Hope, the American Indian Heritage Foundation, and the Ronald McDonald House.

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Christine Vannais

Chief Operating Officer at FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies

Just weeks after becoming the first female Chief Operating Officer at FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies, an international biopharmaceutical organization, Vannais sent a pivotal email.

In April 2020, Vannais learned that Novavax was looking for a partner to begin manufacturing a COVID-19 vaccine. Although it would require scaling up processes and staff while ensuring safety measures such as social distancing, she wrote, “I think we can help. We can do that process in North Carolina.”

“One email started a chain of events that galvanized the site and started a path for this long-term partnership with this client who has a tremendous vaccine.”

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Mark your calendars for the annual Women of Western Wake Forum at The Umstead Hotel & Spa on Friday October 8.

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