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2019 inductees into West Virginia Business Hall of Fame have led widespread growth from West Virginia roots

composite photo of two men, one woman in the center

Bill Bayless, Judy Sheppard and Leo Vecellio, Jr., are the 2019 inductess into the West Virginia Business Hall of Fame. They will be honored at a reception at The Greenbrier in August.

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The three inductees for the 2019 West Virginia Business Hall of Fame share a common thread: they all acquired a taste for business in West Virginia, and have found incredible success in the state and far beyond.

Bill Bayless, chief executive officer of American Campus Communities Inc.; Judy K. Sheppard, chief executive officer of Professional Services of America, Inc.; and Leo A. Vecellio, Jr., chairman, president and CEO of Vecellio Group, Inc., comprise the 2019 Hall of Fame class. The Hall of Fame will honor the inductees at an evening ceremony and reception Aug. 27 at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, the event that will kick off the 2019 West Virginia Business Summit and Annual Meeting.

The Business Hall of Fame was launched in 2001 by West Virginia University’s John Chambers College of Business and Economics to recognize business leaders who have strong ties to West Virginia and have made a significant impact across the business landscape of their local communities, the state, the nation and around the world. WVU’s business school established a partnership in 2017 with the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce, host of the West Virginia Business Summit, and the event was moved to The Greenbrier. To date, 67 individuals from a variety of business sectors and from various parts of the country and world have been inducted.

“Bill Bayless, Judy Sheppard and Leo Vecellio all got their first involvement in business right here in West Virginia,” said W. Marston “Marty” Becker, chairman of the Hall of Fame Committee. “Bill discovered what he wanted to do while he was a student at WVU, Judy founded a business in West Virginia and Leo helped to manage and expand a family business that was founded in this state. They all were remarkably successful and the result is that their businesses reach far beyond our state borders.”

Bayless co-founded American Campus Communities in Austin, Texas, in 1993, a company that today is the nation’s largest developer, owner and manager of high-quality student housing with more than 133,000 students calling an American Campus community home. Known for his contagious enthusiasm and true passion for student success, he is considered one of the nation’s foremost experts on student housing. In 2004, he led the student housing industry to a new plateau when American Campus Communities became the first publicly-traded student housing company in the nation. As its chief executive officer, Bill provides the guiding vision for the company and is considered one of the nation’s foremost experts on student housing. He has been featured in Fortune Magazine, NYSE Magazine, the Wall Street Journal and has appeared on CNBC. Over his 30-year career, Bayless has been involved in the development and acquisition of more than $13 billion of student housing assets. In 2017, he was named the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in the category of real estate, construction and lodging. Bayless graduated in 1986 from the then-WVU College of Business and Economics. He is married to his WVU college sweetheart, Jamie, and they have two children and three grandchildren.

Sheppard leads Professional Services of America, a human resources company she founded in Parkersburg in 1989. The company has grown into a global leader in human resources and business management, as Sheppard has overseen all operations of her company and its commitment to delivering quality services. She is the designer of innovative human resource programs and services for large, private sector companies and government agencies, including 30 Federal Government agencies as past and present clients. She received her education from Chattahoochee Technical College and earned an honorary degree from WVU-Parkersburg in 2008. Sheppard serves as a U.S. Ambassador for the West Virginia Division of the Ohio River Valley Women’s Business Council, West Virginia Area Roundtable, Wood County Development Authority, WIPP (Women Impacting Public Policy), and works with the Euro-American Women’s Council and Certified Women’s Business Enterprise (WBENC). Her awards include the Ernest & Young Entrepreneur of the Year (2003); Minority Entrepreneur of the Year (in 2004); Small Business of the Year (2005); SBA Women in Business Champion (2006); and SBA Small Business Person of the Year (2011).

Vecellio is chairman, president and CEO of Vecellio Group, Inc., a fourth-generation, family owned and operated business with substantial heavy/highway, mining and petroleum operations throughout the southeastern and mid-Atlantic U.S. He joined Vecellio & Grogan in 1973 with construction and engineering degrees from Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech, along with four years of international construction management experience as an officer in the U.S. Air Force. He became a leader in the family business, which was founded in 1938 as a West Virginia road construction company by his father, grandfather and uncle. He has participated at all levels of industry leadership, culminating in his service as Chairman of American Road & Transportation Builders Association in 2007-08. He is a founder of Floridians for Better Transportation and of West Virginia’s Flexible Pavements Council, and is active in the state’s Contractors Association. Vecellio is joined by other family members in giving back to the community through the Vecellio Family Foundation, which has included collegiate endowments and scholarships totaling more than $3.4 million. He and his wife, Kathryn, have two sons, who joined the company in 2002 as the fourth generation of family-owned leadership.

In addition to attendees of the West Virginia Business Summit and Annual meeting, the public is also welcome to attend this free event.



CONTACT: Patrick Gregg,
WVU John Chambers College of Business and Economics

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