People to watch

Teresa Sullivan: She made headlines when she became UVA's first female president in 2010, but her sudden unexplained firing and subsequent rehiring in June 2012 put UVA in the national spotlight as questions about the influence of money and politics on University boards swirled. Will Sullivan 2.0 be able to work with the Board of Visitors, and, in particular, controversial Rector Helen Dragas? We'll all be watching.

Helen Dragas: Her role as the public face of UVA prez Teresa Sullivan's firing made Dragas few friends, but she has soldiered on, remaining on the Board of Visitors as rector despite a maelstrom of calls for her resignation. Dragas, a Virginia Beach real estate developer, has taken up part-time residence in the former home of late billionaire John Kluge, and she appears to be banking on online courses– something Sullivan had already been working on– as the path to UVA's financial salvation. Will hindsight prove her prescient?

Ken Boyd: If the day comes that you can skip more than a dozen traffic lights during your travels between Charlottesville and Ruckersville, you'll have Albemarle County supervisor Ken Boyd to thank. And if the road that affords north-of-town travelers that luxury happens to cut through your front yard and across a formerly bucolic countryside, you can curse the same guy. In June 2011, Republican Boyd engineered a midnight vote on the Board of Supervisors to approve the Western Bypass, a road discussed for so many years that most people believed the project couldn't possibly come to pass. While opposition to the road remains, 2013 could well be the year the Western Bypass is born.

McNeish says Occupy taught him that the direct approach may accomplish more than the ballot (something he's forbidden from using). Jordan McNeish: After spending six months behind bars for a felony marijuana possession conviction, McNeish emerged an activist eager to change what he believes is an unjust system. In May, after presenting what Charlottesville City Councilor Dave Norris called a "very reasonable and well thought out" argument, Council passed a resolution urging the Governor and the General Assembly to revisit laws regulating pot possession. As founder of the Charlottesville chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, McNeish is at the forefront of a growing consensus that pot laws just don't make sense. Is it time to just say yes?

Chip Harding: When Virginia became the third state in the country to conduct familial DNA testing in 2011, there was little doubt that the Commonwealth wouldn't have been so cutting edge without the efforts of Albemarle County Sheriff Chip Harding, who spearheaded the formation of the state DNA databank back in the 1990s and has continued to push for improvements in DNA databases in states across the country. Look for more cases to be solved through familial DNA, which matches samples from unknown offenders to close family members whose genetic material may be in a state database, helping to narrow the search for violent and elusive criminals like the killer of Morgan Harrington.

Tom Worrell: Former newspaper publisher Tom Worrell is now one of the world's leading water management visionaries with a for-profit company called Worrell Water Technologies that makes Living Machines, man-made estuaries that purify wastewater. At a March 2012 summit held at McGuffey Art Center, Worrell made a rare appearance to announce the launch of his nonprofit, Living Technology Institute, and to urge decentralization of water supplies around the world as a step toward bringing clean water to the estimated 900 million people living without it.

Leslie Bowman: Some people stress about having a dinner party for six. Leslie Bowman does a little more than that– she welcomes 450,000 guests per year as executive director of Monticello, a position she took in 2009. In 2012, Bowman, an acclaimed historian, curated an exhibit that's on display at the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture through October 14. “Slavery at Jefferson’s Monticello: Paradox of Liberty” features many artifacts from Thomas Jefferson's plantation and the Smithsonian's collection, and offers a glimpse into the lives of six slave families who lived, worked, and in some cases, died at Monticello.

Mike London: After leading the University of Richmond Spiders football team to victory in the FCS Championship in 2008 and getting named ACC Coach of the year in 2011 in his second season at UVA, London's gearing up for his third year with the Cavaliers, and hopes are high for another winning season thanks to a returning QB and a strong class of recruits. Cavs fans are hoping this could be the year that the decade-plus-long streak of losing to Tech comes to an end. Head to Scott Stadium this fall to see if it happens!