The Hampton Roads Business Journal featured a special Inside Business issue announcing the 2019 Top 40 Under 40 honorees. Heather Wilson, Founder and Executive Director of Kennedy’s Angel Gowns, was a selected honoree.
Top Forty Under 40 recognizes outstanding young businesspeople in the Hampton Roads community. An independent judging panel chooses honorees from a group of publicly-submitted nominees. While they exemplify success in their profession, emphasis is placed on their community involvement and giving back or using their talents to advance the region.
Heather Wilson is Executive Director and Founder of Kennedy’s Angel Gowns, a nonprofit that provides free handcrafted infant burial garments (“angel gowns”) to bereaved families who have suffered the loss of a baby through miscarriage, stillbirth or early infant death. Kennedy’s Angel Gowns also provides education and raises awareness of the silence that often surrounds infertility, miscarriage, early neonatal loss, stillbirth, and infant loss.
Heather founded Kennedy’s Angel Gowns in 2016 after the stillbirth of her firstborn daughter Kennedy Milan Wilson, who gained her angel wings on August 17, 2009. Through her devastating loss and grief, she knew she needed to share her story with others to bring healing and let them know they were not alone in this journey. Shortly after its inception, Kennedy’s Angel Gowns began serving as a patient advocate and grief support to bereaved parents, offering funeral assistance and bereavement resources, and hosting annual fundraising events. The Angel Ball, 5K Angel Run, and more recently Bubbly For Babies raise funds to provide Cuddle Cots or Caring Cradles to local hospitals to comfort newly grieving parents and allow them to remain with their baby. Thus far, Heather and her team have provided seven of these devices to localhospitals. Kennedy’s Angel Gowns goal is to give every hospital throughout Hampton Roads one by 2020.
She has counseled children, adolescents, adults, and families throughout Heather’s career. In addition to her loss and professional training working with various populations, she has experience working with individuals who have experienced physical or sexual abuse, depression, self-harming behaviors, anger, anxiety, trauma, grief, and relationship issues.
Heather Wilson has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from American International and a master’s in urban community counseling from Norfolk State University. She pursued fashion merchandising classes at Virginia Commonwealth University and pursued a Licensed Professional Counselor designation. Heather is an active member of Enoch Baptist Church, where she is on the Women Helping Women Board. She received a Ladies in Red 2019 Exceptional Women Awards and the 2017 Hampton Roads Gazeti Exemplar Awards.