• As chair of the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce Veterans Committee I'm always searching out new ways the Chamber might support veterans in our community, our workforce and as entrepreneurs. So in 2016, we've introduced In the Spotlight: Veteran Business Owners. Each month I'm featuring a veteran business owner – highlighting the diversity, creativity and community service of veterans who continue to strengthen our country with their small business endeavors and entrepreneurial spirit.

    Want to be In the Spotlight? Please send me an email and tell me about your military service and your business.

    June 2016
    In the Spotlight: Ellie Thornton

    Eleanor (Ellie) Thornton, an Air Force veteran, is the president, CEO and founding principal consultant of Visionary Consulting Partners, LLC, a woman-owned, service-disabled, veteran-owned and small disadvantaged business headquartered in Fairfax, Virginia. Ellie provides operation and fiscal direction for Visionary, and oversees multiple corporate to client engagements that aim to promote optimum health for all persons, with a special emphasis on socially and medically underserved populations. Ellie leads Visionary in endeavors intended to help healthcare providers, community-based organizations, and public health agencies design, implement, and manage health promotion programs for underserved populations. The firm also provides information technology solutions for healthcare delivery and business process challenges, as well as program and project management services.

    Ellie’s passion for service began in Chicago at the age of 19 when despite her small frame and the shortage of female minorities in the elite service branch; she was determined to qualify for admission. Ellie was unwavering and approached adversity as a merely a challenge to overcome. Consequently, she developed a diet regimen to gain weight, qualified for admission and realized her goal. More than 30 years later, Ellie continues to apply the same approach to adversity with the resilience and commitment that she had when she started her journey to make a difference in the lives of others.

    While in the Air Force she learned that she had asthma, a chronic condition, which had gone undiagnosed throughout her childhood. As a result of her diagnosis she conducted research that showed the problem to be widespread in similar, underserved communities. Ellie translated her experience into making a difference in the lives of people by bringing diagnoses and treatments of asthma and other chronic diseases to underserved, minority communities like those from her childhood, so that other children do not suffer undiagnosed. Her efforts continue through the growth of Visionary, a profitable business co-owned with her husband, Michael Thornton Sr., also a retired career veteran, which is largely staffed by retired veterans. Ellie leads the Visionary team with a mission that she lives by each day: Promoting optimal health, transforming lives. Ellie always communicates to her staff the value of living and working with passion for their work, respect for their clients and dedication to improving the lives of those they seek to help: underserved, minority populations, veterans and the families of veterans.

    Ellie is devoted to helping communities by providing support and solutions that are appropriate for effectively managing chronic illness and navigating the health care system. She is specifically involved with many organizations that provide aid to veterans, including the Fisher Foundation for Military and Family Members, Virginia Values Veterans (V3), Vets Moving Forward, Vet to Vet Entrepreneurship Program (V2VE), Fairfax Area Christian Emergency and Translational Services (FACETS) organization to combat homelessness, the National Military Family Association (NMFA) and the presidentially mandated veterans’ hiring initiative; providing gainful employment within Visionary or Visionary’s network of partners.

    In addition to her roles as CEO of Visionary, Ellie continues to counsel individuals referred by colleagues, employees and friends, according to their unique needs, free of charge. Her counseling in asthma and other chronic disease includes promoting optimal management; treatments; advocacy; health care system navigation, to clarify the severity of the disease; and completely utilizing the tools and resources provided by insurance companies.

    Ellie remains actively involved in establishing networks and partnerships with local community organizations to promote optimal asthma management and access to quality asthma care, including being a collaborative partner for the George Washington School of Public Health and Health Service and the Community of Healthcare for Asthma Management and Prevention (CHAMPS) initiative.

    Ellie has a heart that is devoted to service for our country, veterans and underserved populations around the world. Her philosophy to promote optimal health and transform lives is personal, yet the foundation by which she continues to direct Visionary into a sustainable business.

    If you would like to learn more about Ellie, Visionary or connect with her team, she invites you to visit Visionary Consulting Partners at 4031 University Drive, Suite 100 at the Mason Enterprise Center in Fairfax or visit virtually at vcp-llc.com.

    Charles McCaffrey is the volunteer chair of the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce Veterans Committee. His fulltime job as director of the Veterans Business Outreach Center at Community Business Partnership pays the bills.

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