Meet the dedicated professionals at the CIVIC Leadership Institute.

Sarah Jane Kirkland

President & CEO

“Dedicated and passionate” are two words most often used to describe Sarah Jane Kirkland’s leadership approach. Sarah Jane has spent her career focused on exceeding expectations and helping develop a thriving, inter-connected community. As President and Chief Executive Officer of the region’s premier leadership organization, Sarah Jane is committed to encouraging its network of executive influencers to coalesce around important, regional initiatives. Workforce development, entrepreneurialism, economic sustainability, resiliency and sea level rise – all significant focus areas for CIVIC Leadership Institute.

Sarah Jane’s steadfast commitment to CIVIC’s mission has led to a rewarding career, first serving as the organization’s program manager in 2003, Director of Alumni Engagement in 2013, and later as Chief Operating Officer. She has seen first-hand how the organization engages and inspires leaders to affect real change. Prior to joining CIVIC, she gained critical insight into the tourism industry working with the world’s largest cruise line. Sarah Jane’s focus on the importance of a strong arts/culture community comes from her background with the Northern Ballet School (Manchester, England) and other professional dance academies. She also serves as a board member with the Governor’s School for the Arts.

Sarah Jane is a native of Leicestershire, England. It is with great pride that she now calls Hampton Roads home. Sarah Jane’s husband, Stephen Kirkland, is a CIVIC alumnus (Class of 2007). Though only in third grade, their daughter, Sophia, hopes to join the class of 2039.

Amasa Smith

Director of Programming & Communications

Amasa Smith joined the CIVIC Leadership Institute in 2017 as Program Manager for the CIVIC Scholars Program. Under her management, the CIVIC Scholars Program expanded to a multi-year program with a rotating curriculum and developed class year experiences, which allow students to grow as they progress through the program. Amasa currently serves as the Director of Programming and Communications. In this role, she is responsible for the planning and operation of the organization’s flagship program, the CIVIC Executive Program, and the engagement of over 850 alumni. Additionally, she oversees the CIVIC Scholars Program, as well as managing the online presence of the organization. Amasa is looking forward to expanding the program’s Community Impact Initiatives and increasing the opportunities provided to both current class members and alumni.

A native of Norfolk, Virginia, Amasa left the area to attend Allegheny College in western Pennsylvania. She graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. in International Studies and concentration in Law and Policy. She has spent time working and studying in both DC and Paris but was excited for the opportunity to move back and reconnect with the Hampton Roads community. Amasa on the board of the YWCA South Hampton Roads, tHRive Young Professionals and 757 Proud. Amasa and her partner, Don, enjoy living in Norfolk. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, volunteering, and spending time outdoors.

Megan Shuford

CIVIC Scholars Program Associate

For eight summers Megan worked at the all-girls summer camp, Camp Carysbrook in variety of positions, starting as a cabin-counselor and lifeguard, and progressing as Head Counselor, Director of Leadership Development, and Director of Marketing. After graduation Megan spent two years working at the all-girls boarding school, St. Margaret’s School, where she helped recruit and mentor students from around the world. She then had the opportunity to travel in South America before beginning her time with CIVIC, which allowed her to practice her Spanish-speaking skills and build friendships with people from around the world.

As Program Associate Megan oversees the CIVIC Scholars Program, which is a collaborative initiative by CIVIC Leadership Institute and Old Dominion University to develop a spirit of civic engagement, professionalism and leadership in college students. ODU and TCC students accepted into the program enjoy opportunities to, network with executive leaders, become involved in community service initiatives and participate in programming focused on developing leadership skills. With a dedication to youth development and community engagement Megan is thrilled about the opportunity to be the program manager for the Scholar’s Program.

Contact the CIVIC Team by email at or or call the CIVIC Office at 757-683-6890.

Program Facilitated By

Cathy Lewis

Cathy Lewis is one of Virginia’s most respected media professionals, having worked in commercial and public broadcasting for more than 30 years.  Cathy Lewis has also served as President and CEO for the CIVIC Leadership Institute, and we are excited to work with Cathy as the program facilitator, where she presents highly interactive workshops that offer actionable ideas and strategies for the executives in the program.  

Cathy is committed to creating a more civil culture on the air, at work, and at home. She is a popular speaker, trainer, and facilitator of corporate and community conversations.  Cathy is a certified Gallup StrengthsFinders coach and works with organizations to build a culture of success by focusing on team members’ strengths instead of their weaknesses. She coaches corporate teams and individuals who want to lead with their strengths.

Her public radio talk show HearSay with Cathy Lewis is a fan favorite in readers’ polls and she has been named consistently to the Inside Business Power List, an annual roll call of the 75 most powerful people in the Hampton Roads region. In 2018, she was recognized by the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities with its Humanitarian Award. The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, Chesapeake Bay chapter inducted her into the Silver Circle Society in 2014, recognizing more than 25 years of significant contributions to the industry.

She has also served as President of the Virginia chapter of the National Speakers Association and has earned NSA’s Certified Speaking Professional® designation held by only 12% of the world’s professional speakers.

Find out more about Cathy Lewis at or email her at