Chess Counselor LLC

We're an independent chess instruction organization that offers individual and group lessons. We’re proud to offer high-quality instruction by trained professionals. We offer virtual and in-person services with a focus on developing critical thinking skills, improving memory, and learning coping skills. Our students know how to navigate the challenges of academia and life while becoming great chess players. Contact us for more information! 

Corey Hancock Jr.

Chief Executive Officer

In May 2021, Corey Hancock graduated with his Master’s in Counselor Education at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). Mr. Hancock has studied counseling under a full scholarship provided through a special education federal grant designed to train school counselors to improve the quality of support for students with disabilities. 

Mr. Hancock takes a person-centered approach to counseling, adopting the philosophy that each individual is a master of their own lives and the process of counseling is a collaborative effort to promote growth and development.

Before attending VCU, he served as a co-founder of Legacy Chess Academy (LCA), a nonprofit organization designed to implement comprehensive chess programs to provide K-8 students with effective skill sets in mindfulness practices, critical thinking skills, collaboration, and advocacy.


Ph.D. Counselor Edcuation, University of Missouri - Saint Louis (Current Student)
M.Ed. Counselor Education, Virginia Commonwealth University
B.S. Psychology, Virginia Commonwealth University
A.S. Social Science, Reynolds Community College

 “I absolutely hated going to school every day until I started playing chess. Once I started getting involved in chess clubs it was like a switch flipped and suddenly I was excited and motivated to get to school, which was a huge game changer for me. From there, I felt a sense of community by playing against and learning with my teammates, traveling to tournaments to compete, and to teach others what I learned along the way. I felt a strong sense of belonging that motivated me to want to do everything I could to get better and to contribute to the group; this is especially important because without realizing it, I was developing stronger interpersonal skills, I was building my confidence, and I was learning HOW TO THINK. My efforts in chess club quickly transitioned to improvements in the classroom and even in sports! I started to participate more in class, I was more patient when I did not understand a concept right away, more resourceful, and so on. Skills I learned in the game, transitioned to my life, and made it better. Fast-forward to today, now I am driven to create experiences like the one’s I was so fortunate to have. I pursued higher education so that I am able to develop and enhance programs that specifically target the needs of the populations I am serving. I am a strong advocate for research and utilizing evidence-based practices/models to maximize the outcomes of our students.” 


JaVonne Bowles 

Marketing Research Analyst

JaVonne is an adamant believer in the healing powers that each individual possesses. This belief is currently being fulfilled in her work at a number of values-based entities. While she is the Marketing Research Analysis for Chess Counselor, LLC, she is also a fellow with the Urban Sustainability Directors Network furthering her capabilities to educate and engage youth alongside partners and peers that are members of the City of Richmond, Office of Sustainability - RVAgreen 2050 Roundtable and Community Working Group. Along with aforementioned organizations, her work as a Community Advocate with Virginia Community Voice highlights her dedication in working with residents of the Commonwealth to inform institutions on making equitable decisions. JaVonne believes in taking holistic measures to maintain a sustainable lifestyle. To name a few of her accomplishments in supporting holisticity you can look at her work in teaching the practical skills of hatha yoga and meditation, contributing hours to local community gardens, and helping to establish a non-profit that teaches students interpersonal skills through the game of chess. Her education exhibits how interdisciplinary scholars make the most of their resources to craft unique solutions to personal and societal issues. Addressing environmental injustice is the current subject that sits heavy in her heart and mind. She finds it nurturing to balance this passion with soulful conversations between herself and her allies. Such conversations are often enjoyed over culturally diverse meals, an enriching game of chess while in nature. No matter the project, JaVonne chooses to live her best life by staying purposefully engaged in all ways. 

Joseph Vallejo Jr.

Senior Tech Specialist

Joseph Vallejo Jr. served in the US Navy for four years after graduating high school. While touring the Persian Gulf, he learned C++ in his spare time.

After the military, he worked as a sailor on the Annabel Lee while taking classes towards his Cisco certification and A+ certification.

During this time he also learned basic HTML and CSS in his spare time.

After Annabel Lee was removed from the James River and move to the Potomac, Mr. Vallejo decided to pursue his associate degree in computer science.

While earning his associate degree, he worked at his school as an A/V Tech, earning his Extron certification in the process. He also worked alongside Corey Hancock Jr. performing technology-related services and graphics for Legacy Chess Academy.

After finishing his associate’s Mr. Vallejo was hired in his attending college as an Information Technology Specialist. 

chris Jeter

Wellness Advocate 

Chris Jeter is a wellness advocate who uses creative expression and mindfulness practices to promote high-level wellness - an individual's active commitment to maximizing their potential. Chris actively promotes wellness through his roles as a yoga instructor, musician, and counselor-in-training. Each of these layers helps Chris deepen his practice of wellness and spirituality.


In 2019, Chris began his Yoga Teacher Training at Faith Hunter’s School of Yoga in Washington, D.C. During training, he explored the philosophy of yoga, which has ultimately assisted him in finding the voice of a teacher. As a 200-hour Certified Yoga Teacher, Chris focuses on personal expression and connection as ways to deepen both his teaching and personal practices. Flows & Grooves, Chris’ signature class, offers a space to invite creative movement, expression, and rhythm into yoga practice.

As a musician, Chris- known by the moniker i.D. (intelligent design); utilizes his voice to make observations of the world- and himself. These observations are rooted in Chris’ commitment to spirituality, mindfulness, wisdom, lifelong learning, and freedom.  

In May 2021, Chris graduated with a Master of Education in Counselor education, and has experience working with primary and secondary schools in the Richmond Metro area.. Through his counseling practice, he has utilized mindfulness-based and expressive arts interventions to promote client wellness. Chris has successfully implemented a music and mindfulness program focused on building skills to effectively identify and creatively express emotions. His overall goal is to develop and implement culturally relevant interventions to promote wellness in the African-American and other communities of color

mary koval

Program Coordinator

Mary Koval received her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Master of Arts in Sociology from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Her concentration area in Sociology is Social Inequality and Sociology of Gender. She has over 15 years of Human Services experience with various types of agencies including suicide hotline, domestic violence, and children with disabilities.   Mary also has 4 years of Higher Education Administration experience in admission and enrollment. She has been teaching at the college level since November 2012.  Mary presents information on cultural diversity and social inequality at various state and national conferences for public service agencies. Mary is a trauma-informed/trauma-support certified instructor as of April 2021.  She moved to Richmond from Western PA in June 2011.  Mary has 2 dogs and 3 cats and fosters puppies for a local dog rescue. Mary has been a USCF rated chess player since 2014. She has taught chess in Richmond area schools and was the coach for her son’s school chess club for 1 year. 

Joanna duggan

Business Consultant

Having been employed since the age of 16, and self-employed in various small businesses for 23 years, Ms. Duggan has learned that being a successful entrepreneur is about resiliency, courage, integrity, imagination, creativity, hard work, and intelligence.

With her partner, she opened a fabrication shop in 1986, and was involved in all aspects of daily decision making. The company specialized in custom acrylic fabrication mainly for kitchens and baths, and also for commercial projects. The business grew and adapted over 10 years; and was respected by customers, suppliers, and competitors. It was sold at a profit.

In 1995, they started SOLIDSURFACE, a trade magazine about the fabrication business, the target audience being business owners like themselves. Many good decisions were made up front, and the magazine was an enormous success, loved and supported by the industry. She became president and publisher in 1997. When she exited this business, SOLIDSURFACE had subscribers in 50 states, 56 foreign countries, on 6 continents, and had been sold at a profit to a large publishing house.

In “retirement,” Joanna worked with Bath Fitter as an Outside Event Representative. Theirs is an acrylic product, a perfect fit for her background. She enjoyed the chance to perfect her communication and sales techniques, and achieved ‘Top 10’ sales status out of 1000+ representatives in 15 states.

Ms. Duggan has been a volunteer with RVA Works since 2015, helping new business owners develop and succeed. “Achieving long-term success in any business is not simple, and there is usually a big learning curve. The ability to identify the root of a problem and solve it in a win-win fashion, is key.” Ms. Duggan is passionate about helping small business owners succeed.

She is very excited to be joining the team at Chess Counselor LLC, whose vision and goals she respects, and whose people she believes are the right ones to accomplish their goals.