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Education leaders part of Workforce Forward forum

An Educational Trendsetter Panel will be a highlight of the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center’s Workforce Forward 2012 forum on Sept. 20 at The Prizery in South Boston. The theme of the forum is “Virginia Manufacturing: Back to the Future?” 

As one of three facilitated panel discussions held at the forum, the Educational Trendsetters Panel will consist of educational practitioners who are breaking new ground in workforce education and training. 

According to Dr. Nettie Simon-Owens, director of workforce services at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center, “Each panelist offers unique and compelling takes on what is necessary to bridge the manufacturing skills gap.” 

Panelists include Dr. Julie Brown, project director of Dan River Region Collaborative, Dr. Keith Williamson, dean of the School of Engineering, Sciences and Technology at Virginia State University, and Dale Moore, chief executive officer at Moore Electrical and Mechanical and founder of Virginia Technical Institute.

Dr. Betty H. Adams, executive director of the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center, will facilitate the Educational Trendsetters panel discussion. 

The panelists will help to raise awareness of the reemerging manufacturing sector and spotlight the new educational approaches required to bridge the manufacturing workforce skills gap. 

Workforce Forward 2012 forum seeks to help Southern Virginia position itself to capitalize on these opportunities. The Educational Trendsetters panel will provide an enriching and engaging conversational experience.

Panelist Dr. Julie Brown provides management services for the Dan River Region Collaborative, a regional partnership dedicated to working with employers to address workforce needs while moving individual employees to high-skill, high-wage situations. 

She has 18 years of experience in education including working for a public research university, two community colleges, and regional K-12 districts. Brown has extensive experience in reporting federal grants, program development and fiscal accountability, managing over $4 million in local, regional, state and federal grant funds.

Dr. Brown received a B. A. in Environmental Science from the University of Virginia, a M.S. in Environmental Studies from Longwood University and her Ph.D. from Old Dominion University in Community College Leadership.  

Dr. Keith Williamson is dean of the School of Engineering, Sciences and Technology at Virginia State University. Williamson’s research at VSU, a Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing (C-CAM) Organizing University Member, spans a range of topics involving materials and thermal sciences.

Before working with the educational program, Williamson served as a naval architect and electronics engineer for the U.S. Navy. He holds a doctorate in mechanical engineering from Tufts University and a BSME from Bucknell University.

Dale Moore, chief executive officer and founder of Moore’s Electrical & Mechanical, is also the founder of the Virginia Technical Institute. Both companies are located in the Altavista area.  

After working at Abbott Laboratories in Altavista, Moore’s interest in the “technical” aspect of education began when he entered the Marines. He attended Technical School in Tennessee to become an electrician and then started his own business. Under Moore’s leadership, Moore’s Electrical & Mechanical employs more than 400 partners meeting commercial, industrial and residential needs throughout the state of Virginia. 

A visionary leader with an entrepreneurial spirit, Moore recently started the Virginia Technical Institute to offer trade training for those who are “technically gifted” and desire to pursue their education. The school is in its second year of operation and has a total enrollment of 250 students. VTI most recently partnered with Liberty University to offer the option of an associate’s degree for those desiring further education.

“Anyone involved in any way with employment, workforce and economic development, education (at any level), and the business sectors should attend this year’s forum. A wealth of information will be shared along with opportunities to network with workforce stakeholders from across the Southern Virginia region” said Simon-Owens. Early Bird registration rate is $40 per person ends Aug. 31. Registration can be done online at http://www.svhed.org/.   

For more information on the Workforce Forward forum or the panelists, go to http://www.svhec.org/index.php/speakers or contact Dr. Nettie Simon-Owens, SVHEC director of Workforce Servs, at 434-572-5477.