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Leaders who helped build art program to step down

Three “stars” associated with the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center’s  Business of Art & Design program — two staff and one student — have accepted positions with Glerin Business Resources, Inc.,  in Halifax, Executive Director Dr. Betty H. Adams announced Friday.

Recruited for the local private sector positions at Glerin, a web and mobile design, branding and strategy company, include Program Coordinator Ben Capozzi, Project Coordinator Tina Morgan and Student Intern Heather Chipps.  

Glerin also will be contracting with several other students from the program, Adams said.

She expressed pride and confidence in her former staff saying, “The market demand for these positions vindicates our vision for the Business of Art & Design curricula. These are the 21st Century jobs that will revitalize the regional economy by keeping local talent at home and attracting new human capital  to the area.”

Morgan and Chipps are from Southern Virginia, and Capozzi is originally from Christiansburg.

 “They have contributed to the economic development of Southern Virginia in their Southern Virginia Higher Education Center roles and now will have an opportunity to contribute at a greater level in private industry. I wish them all the very best,” Adams said.

Capozzi said, “It has been a great privilege to work with so many students, colleagues, community stakeholders, partners and professionals over the last four years developing the Business of Art & Design programs at the SVHEC. Our efforts demonstrate clear proof-of-concept that Halifax County is willing and able to develop creative and sustainable human capital to transform the region. I’m the luckiest guy in the world, grateful to have had the opportunity to serve so many students and now to take up a second ‘dream job’ as creative director at Glerin.”

Summarizing her feelings about the move to Glerin, Morgan said, “I was excited to join the Business of Art & Design program three years ago when I was recruited from Virginia Tech.  I am happy to say that I can move on to the private sector with the satisfaction of knowing the impact the program has made in the lives of the students who have come through it.  I am proud of our role in developing local talent, and I know the program will continue to evolve and produce the creative professionals that our region needs.”

Regarding the future of The Business of Art & Design, Adams said even prior to these announcements, her leadership team already had begun a project to “re-vision” the program in light of expiring grants.

 “In early June we began developing a game plan for taking the Business of Art & Design into its next logical iteration. The key is finding an educational partner or partners willing to take ownership of and invest the necessary resources in maintaining and growing the program we have incubated here in South Boston,”  Adams said.

The Business of Art & Design is an innovative program launched with tobacco commission seed grants and in partnership with Danville Community College and Halifax County Public Schools. 

Since 2008, two Business of Art & Design degree tracks have utilized art and design to teach essential workplace skills of problem solving, creativity, collaboration, teamwork, entrepreneurship and innovation. Drawn to the high tech, real world, project-based curricula, more than 450 high school and community college students have enrolled in Business of Art & Design classes since its inception.  

A number of student projects have earned local, regional, national and international attention in juried competitions.

Halifax County native Lisa Kipps-Brown founded Glerin in 1996 in Florida, and relocated the company to the town of Halifax in 2001. 

Glerin specializes in helping businesses compete on the global stage through integrated marketing, branding and strategy. 

“Ben and Tina have done an outstanding job building The Business of Art & Design program at SVHEC and mentoring students like Heather to build valuable, marketable skill sets,” Kipps-Brown said. “We’re fortunate to be able to add the three of them to the Glerin team and are excited to bring new jobs to Halifax County – jobs that very well may not have existed without SVHEC.

“We’ve been big supporters of, and believers in, The Business of Art & Design program’s vision and look forward to working with SVHEC to help meet the growing demand for talented, entrepreneurial designers in Halifax County and the region,” she added. “Through SVHEC’s leadership, our region has the opportunity to become known as a hotbed for creative talent.”

Departures won’t impact future of design program

After learning that Business of Art & Design Program Coordinator Ben Capozzi and Business of Art & Design Project Manager Tina Morgan have been recruited to private sector jobs by Halifax firm Glerin, Southern Virginia Higher Education Center Executive Director Dr. Betty Adams sent emails informing members of South Boston Town Council and the Halifax County Board of Supervisors Friday.

She was quick to tell elected officials, these departures will not affect the center’s plans for the Business of Art & Design program “one iota.” 

Last month South Boston Council members and county supervisors approved a joint resolution to contribute $312,686 for a higher education grant for the center to be divided over three years to match the $625,372 offered by the tobacco commission.

The joint resolution between the county and Town of South Boston will contribute $312,686 for a higher education grant for the center to be divided over three years to match the $625,372 offered by the tobacco commission.

Three appropriations of $104,229 will be paid out in 2013 through 2016.

Adams said the infusion of promised funding has given a boost to morale around the center.

“Most of our staff’s positions are funded by grants, and now we’ll be able to tell them they can breathe a sigh of relief,” said Adams of the assurance provided by the joint resolution.

“Ben and Tina have assured me that their moves were not due to funding concerns but because they found the opportunity to work in a new, even more creative environment extremely appealing. We anticipate that they will both continue to assist the SVHEC in contract capacities, so we’re not really losing them altogether. And, certainly the community is gaining their creative expertise,” she wrote in the email.

“To be sure this was an unexpected development that happened quickly over the past two weeks,” she told supervisors and council members. 

However, she assured the local governing bodies that “it does not change the center’s plans for the Business of Art & Design program one iota.” 

In fact, Adams said a project team had already begun working to “re-vision” the program in light of expiring grants. 

The executive director explained that instead of Capozzi and Morgan leading the re-visioning effort, she and Amy Cole will now be taking on this responsibility. 

Business of Art & Design classes will continue over the next year as planned, which will give the center time to determine its future strategy. 

“After getting over the initial shock, I sincerely see this as a positive development. It validates what we hope to achieve with Business of Art & Design programs – tapping into local creative talents in hopes of keeping them in the region and attracting new human capital by providing technologically innovative programming at the SVHEC,” she added.