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MSBA-HTM Speaker Series - Future of Hospitality Workforce in Southern VA Summit

Date: Wednesday, October 25, 2023; 10:00am-3:00pm

Location: Danville, VA

Since 2012, Starlette Johnson has served as a consultant to the hospitality and entertainment industries, through SBJ Advisory Group, LLC, working with both public and private companies. In March 2023, Starlette was appointed to the board of Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory (NASDAQ: RMCF) and serves as the Chair of the Risk & Security Committee, and as member of the Audit and Governance Committees.  Starlette has also served on the board of Jack’s Family Restaurants since October of 2019, after the acquisition of the company by AEA Partners, and currently serves on the Audit and Marketing Committees. From September 2012 (post its IPO) through February 2023, she served as a member of the Audit Committee, as Chair of the Nominating/Governance Committee and as Chair of the Compensation Committee for Chuy’s Inc., a full-service casual Mexican chain.   From March 2021 thru May 2023, she also served on the board of ARKO Corp. (NASDAQ: ARKO), the sixth largest convenience store chain in the United States, and as Chair of the Nominating/Governance Committee and as a member of the Audit and Compensation Committees.  Starlette served as Chair of the Board for privately-held SusieCakes, a classic desserts bakery based in Southern California from December 2014 through December 2020. She also served as a member of the Board and Chair of the Audit Committee of Bojangles’ Famous Chicken ‘n Biscuits from March 2016 until the completion of its go-private transaction in January 2019. From May 2008 through November 2013, Starlette was a member of the Board of Directors’, Audit Committee and chair of the Nominating/Governance Committee, for Tuesday Morning, Inc. (NASDAQ: TUES), a leading national closeout retailer. 

From January 2019 (following the acquisition of Lucky Strike Entertainment Group by Wellspring Capital Management) through October 2020, Starlette served as a board member and as Interim President of the Company, reporting directly to the board. From June 2006 to September 2010, Starlette served both on the Board of Directors and as President and Chief Operating Officer of Dave & Buster’s, Inc.  She joined the company as Chief Strategic Officer with responsibilities for Human Resources, Marketing and Development. She assumed the role of President/COO in April of 2007, and led the Company’s Human Resources/Training, Sales, Amusements, and Strategic Initiatives departments in addition to Operations.

Prior to joining Dave & Buster’s, Starlette was Executive Vice President and Chief Strategic Officer for Brinker International (NYSE: EAT), the parent company of Chili’s. She joined Brinker in 1995 as Director of Planning and assumed the role of Chief Strategic Officer in May 2001. After departing Brinker in November of 2004, Starlette served for 18 months as an industry consultant to both public and private companies assisting in the development of their long-term strategic plans.  She began her hospitality career as a director of finance for PepsiCo's KFC Division.

Starlette received an MBA from Duke University, and a B.S. in Finance from Virginia Tech. She recently concluded a 2-year term as the Chairman of the Virginia Tech Foundation. Prior to her Chair position, Starlette was a member of the VTF Investment Committee from 2017-2021. In July 2023 she also was appointed as a Trustee of Averett College in her home-town of Danville, Virginia.

Dr. Tiffany McKillip Franks became the President of Averett University on July 1, 2008, and she  is the first woman to hold the post since the University’s founding in 1859. During her tenure, the University has realized record enrollments in the traditional undergraduate program and has completed its first comprehensive capital campaign with the second campaign underway — securing almost $40 million, including $5.3 million for a significant expansion in the health sciences and over $15 million for major facilities improvements, including the new Schoolfield House Booksellers, the Galesi Family Student Success Center, Averett Central, the Violet T. Frith Fine Arts Center, the Frank R. Campbell Stadium, and the renovation of the University’s historic Main Hall. In addition, the University opened its Riverview Campus in Danville’s River District.

New academic programs have been launched for undergraduates in nursing and criminal justice and new graduate programs have been launched in criminal justice administration and leadership, applied data analytics, education, and nursing; and new intercollegiate athletics programs have been added in men’s and women’s lacrosse, wrestling and esports. A Center for Community Engagement and Career Competitiveness has been established linking the University to the surrounding region in ways that improve student’s lives as well as the surrounding community.

With more than 30 years of senior-level administrative experience in higher education that began when she was 23 as a dean of students, Franks’ leadership style and problem-solving expertise have led her through executive positions in admissions, financial aid, student life, marketing and communications, public relations, and fundraising. Prior to taking the helm at Averett, she served as the Executive Vice President at Greensboro College in North Carolina. Franks earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Ohio Dominican University; a Master of Science degree in Education from The Ohio State University; and a doctorate in Higher Education Management from the University of Pennsylvania. She is married to Joe Franks who is a high school teacher, head men’s and women’s golf coach at Grimsley High School, and the assistant director of the North Carolina Coaches Association.

City Manager Ken Larking began work for the City of Danville in March 2013 as Deputy City Manager. In December 2015, he served as interim City Manager until April 5, 2016, at which time he was appointed City Manager. He began his local government career as the Budget and Performance Manager for the City of Hickory, North Carolina, from April 1999 to January 2003 before serving as Town Manager of Yadkinville, North Carolina, from January 2003 to February 2010. He subsequently served as Assistant County Manager of Moore County, North Carolina, from February 2010 to March 2013. Mr. Larking received his B.A. and M.P.A. from Appalachian State University in 1995 and 1999, respectively. 

Eric Terry joined the Virginia Restaurant, Lodging, and Travel Association (VRLTA) in 2014, bringing over three decades of hospitality experience to the organization. Representing a membership of over 1,800 across the Commonwealth, VRLTA has represented Virginia’s restaurants, hotels, and travel attractions for nearly 80 years. As President, Eric steers strategic initiatives for the Association and leads advocacy efforts before the Virginia General Assembly and Congress on both state and national issues and successfully persuading state legislators to allocate $250 million in federal stimulus funds for industry relief during the COVID–19 pandemic. Prior to joining VRLTA, Eric found business success in the entertainment, hotel, casino resort, and events industries. Held positions include senior positions with Redstone Companies Hospitality, Benchmark Hospitality, and Malibu Entertainment Worldwide, Inc. He also served as President of Xelerate Group, a marketing agency he launched in 2002. The enterprise saw significant growth under his leadership, expanding at an annual rate of over 60 percent during his five years at the helm, and became recognized as a force in national events marketing, sponsorship partnering, media buying, and celebrity appearances. Some of the partnerships he helped facilitate include NASCAR, Chuck Norris (World Combat League), The Food Network, and Indy Racing League. Eric has also worked for Hollywood Casino Corporation/Pratt Hotel Corporation, Bristol Hotels, Marriott Hotels and Resorts, and Busch Gardens Williamsburg over the course of his career. In 2020, Eric was recognized in Virginia Business Magazine as one of the “Top 500 Power List in Hospitality/Tourism,” and was named one of “Virginia’s Heavy Hitters” by the same publication in 2023. Eric is a former board member of the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA), a past Chairman of the International Society of Hospitality Associations (ISHA) and is a former president and vice president of the Crowne Plaza Marketing Association. He graduated from the Hospitality and Tourism Management School at Virginia Tech and is also an Advisory Board Member of the Virginia Tech Hospitality & Tourism Management Department.

Bob has had a passion for the service industry that was instilled at an early age. That passion grew as he sold all he had to go to school in Switzerland and study in the Burgundy wine villages of France. Over 30 years later, with stints from working in D.C. convention hotels, Aspen resorts, to small boutique guest ranches in Colorado. He has championed the message of having fun and the mantra of creating a memory for guests and more importantly for those that worked with him. By understanding both the operational and ownership levels, he can implement strategies to match the overall vision and goals of the asset, company, and investors. This is done with the experience working with private equity groups, developers, family asset investors, national brands, and local municipalities.

As Vice President with Marshall/TPG Hotels and Resorts, Parks Hospitality, and Chesterfield Hotels, he was able to help grow, enhance, and develop strategies toward profitability and reputation recognition for the company and the owners of the assets. His hotels have garnered many accolades ranging from top 1% of the brand in operations and guest recognition, to his independent hotels being recognized in publications as the best of the best for hotels or food and beverage operations in the country. The growing trend of merging management companies has now led Bob to a glaring need for owners. The timing was right for him to move into helping fill that need for individual owners in having a resident expert to watch over their interests and help them with their development goals. This assures owners that their investments have individual focus and that clear communications are facilitated between the operator and owner. The current hospitality canvas creates a time that the slightest deviation from the asset focus can cause reprehensible damage to profits and reputation to the hotel or restaurant. Bob is now setting up owners with successful strategies to protect, and grow their investments through asset managing their hospitality and non-hospitality holdings. His independent asset work has now been combined with adding the successful hospitality and real estate team at Murphy Asset Management.

Prior to Murphy and his operational V.P. roles, Bob worked for as an award winning full service and boutique General Manager. Bob has dual degrees in hospitality from both Virginia Tech and Caesar Ritz College in Le Bouveret, Switzerland. He currently serves as Chairman for the Virginia Tech Pamplin Business College’s Hospitality and Tourism Management school advisory board.

Youshique Gilbert is a highly accomplished professional with a diverse background in gaming and Human Resources. Originally from the Bahamas, Youshique has over 13 years of experience in the gaming industry, making significant contributions to renowned companies such as Kerzner International, Walt Disney Company, Royal Caribbean Group, and Boyd Gaming.

Youshique's journey began after completing the Human Resources Management Program at the University of Miami, where he gained a solid foundation in HR practices and principles. With a passion for the hospitality industry, Youshique is currently pursuing a degree in Hospitality Management at Averett University, further enhancing his expertise in the field.

Currently serving as the Director of Human Resources at Caesars Virginia, Youshique plays a pivotal role in overseeing the HR operations, implementing strategic initiatives, and fostering a positive work culture. His extensive experience in talent acquisition, employee development, and employee relations has made him an invaluable asset to the organization. Youshique's commitment to excellence and his ability to build strong relationships have been instrumental in driving organizational success. With a thorough understanding of the gaming industry and a passion for providing exceptional guest experiences, Youshique continues to make significant strides in his professional journey.

Outside of work, Youshique enjoys exploring new gaming trends, staying updated with industry developments, and actively participating in professional networking events. His dedication to continuous learning and personal growth underscores his commitment to excel in his career and make a lasting impact in the gaming and hospitality sectors.

Brian Wells brings over 25 years of exemplary leadership experience as general manager and has experience in food and beverage and within property operations to his new position at The Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center Curio. He was most recently general manager for the Hilton Durham near Duke University located in Durham, North Carolina. During his tenure there, the hotel received numerous awards of excellence from the Hilton, TripAdvisor, and Interstate Hotels. During Brian’s career much of his experience was in New England in a variety of locales. He has been a hotel general manager for boutique hotels, large city center properties, a university hotel & conference center, and a private executive conference center for a Fortune 100 company. Community involvement and promoting tourism has always been a focus to develop hotel business, and to positively impact small businesses in the region. Mr. Well’s ties to the communities where he has lived and worked run deep. He recently served as a volunteer photographer for Sara P. Duke Gardens – Durham NC. In a previous position, he was the President and 5-year Executive Board Member of the Windham Region Chamber of Commerce. He also served as a Board Member of The Last Green Valley – a National Heritage Corridor. Additionally, he was appointed to the Joint Use Committee, the Conference Partners Committee, and the Family Weekend Committee at the University of Connecticut. In the Roanoke region he is on the Executive Committee for Downtown Roanoke Inc, the Roanoke Hospitality House, a start-up non-profit to assist develop a lodging facility for medical visits of adult families in financial need, and he has received the Tourism Excellence Award from Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge. He serves as a director for the Virginia Restaurant, Lodging, and Travel Association and he is also a volunteer as a regularly contributing photographer for the Nation Park Service for the Blue Ridge Parkway. Advisory Board member for VT Pamplin HTM program, and curriculum advisor for the Claude Moore Culinary program for VWCC. Since joining the Hotel Roanoke the property has received the Connie Award, F&B Excellence Award, Award of Excellence, Owner of the Year for Hilton, and Commercial Team of the Year from Hilton Worldwide. The property also regained the Four Diamond status from AAA after rebranding to Curio.

In 2001, Paul founded Retro Hospitality, a Richmond based hotel consulting and management firm. Over the past twelve years, Retro has been involved in many historic, adaptive reuse projects that have been converted into some of the most distinguished hotel and culinary destinations in Virginia.

Paul recently served a Chairman of the Shenandoah Valley Region for the VRLTA, is a current distinguished member of the Stabe Board of Directors for the VRLTA, and the present Chairman of the VRLTA Foundation, a 501 © 3 that supports hospitality education across the state. Additionally, Mr. Cooper serves as a Board Member for the Richmond Region Tourism TID (Tourism Improvement District) Governance Committee and as a member of the Hospitality Management Program Board of Directs at the Virginia State University.

Named the Virginia Hotelier of the Year for 2020, Paul and Retro Hospitality are very involved with several volunteer hospitality and tourism initiatives focused on education, including ProStart Program, a nationwide, two-year high school culinary program that reaches nearly 150,000 students and Mercy Chefs, a global non-profit and humanitarian relief organization.

Additionally, Retro Hospitality offers an annual summer internships program to select hospitality management students at its hotel properties and at the corporate offices. Paul and his team also fund and sponsor the Tetro Hospitality Scholarship which is awarded annually to Richmond Metro Area high school seniors who plan to study at a two-year or four-year college/university or post-secondary school that specializes in culinary arts or hospitality management. 

Madison currently holds the position of dual General Manager at the Bee Hotel and the Holbrook Hotel, two boutique properties in the charming city of Danville, Virginia, both managed by TPG Hotels and Resorts.

Madison attended Virigina Tech where she obtained a bachelor’s degree in hospitality and tourism management. It was during her time there that Madison discovered her passion for the hospitality industry. Her experience in the industry started within she worked at a country club during high school and later an internship at an ocean resort during college, which led to a management position at the Virginia Hotel in Lynchburg, VA

Her journey from the Virginian Hotel’s Front Office Management to Catering Manager showcased her versatility and ability to create exceptional experiences, and today, her leadership shines as she adeptly manages both the Been Hotel and the Holbrook Hotel, emphasizing impeccable guest service.

Beyond her career, Madison’s love for culinary exploration keeps her busy in the kitchen, while her time off revolves around travel and spending time with family and her two beloved dogs.

Kiersten Pearce serves as the Senior Vice President, Strategic and Executive Initiatives for AHLA. Kiersten’s role is to ensure that AHLA continues to deliver a compelling value proposition model to the more than 30,000 members across all membership categories. Kiersten comes to AHLA with extensive experience within the hospitality industry and project managed AHLA’s Consumer Innovation Forum (CIF), where she served as Director of Industry Relations at Kalibri Labs for nearly four years. Prior to joining Kalibri Labs, Kiersten worked at Qatar Airways, where she managed direct online sales and OTA relationships for the Americas, and at MICROS E-commerce (formerly TIG Global), where she maintained corporate relationships with hotel brands such as Hyatt Hotels Corporation and KSL Resorts. Kiersten holds a Bachelor of Science in finance from Virginia Tech.

Jacob Bower serves as Special Projects Manager for the Partnership Marketing division of Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC). As a member of VTC’s Partnership Marketing Team, he works directly on the development and implementation of the DRIVE Tourism program throughout Virginia which aims to build stronger, more vibrant communities and partnerships. A Southern Virginia native, Jacob loves traveling with his wife and dog, crafting homemade knives, and cheering the Hokies on to victory.

Courtney has led the Charlottesville Albemarle Convention and Visitors Bureau (CACVB) as the Executive Director since August 2019. Under her leadership, the CACVB has become a national leader in creating welcoming environments through destination stewardship. The CACVB is the pilot for Destinations International’s Tourism for All program, which she helped create. Her work has been recognized with a U.S. Travel Association’s Destiny Award and HSMAI Adrian Award for Discover Black Cville and as a Destiny Award finalist for the Monticello Wine Trail. She also received the George Washington University Master’s of Tourism Administration Alumni Award for Social Impact. She is the author of The Future of Destination Organizations: A Guide to a Community-based Welcome. Her destination is also now recognized as one of the top five wine regions in the world, according to Wine Enthusiast for 2023, thanks to strategic marketing initiatives focused on wine, starting with her tenure. Prior to coming to the CACVB, Courtney served as the Executive Director of Discover Bristol TN/VA and the Marketing Director for the Arlington Virginia Convention and Visitors Service. She is a frequent guest lecturer at The George Washington University, where she earned her Master’s in Tourism Administration in 2010 and was recognized by Beta Gamma Sigma for her academic achievements. 

Corrie Bobe (pronounced bo-bay) joined the Danville Office of Economic Development and Tourism in November 2009. In her current role as Director, Bobe is responsible for leading the organization’s mission to improve the economic health and quality of life of the city of Danville through the creation and retention of jobs, building of local wealth, and increasing the tax base. Prior to this position, Bobe served as Assistant Director and led redevelopment efforts within Danville’s award-winning River District. She also serves as staff to the Industrial Development Authority of Danville, Virginia, the Danville Pittsylvania Regional Industrial Facility Authority and the Staunton River Regional Industrial Facility Authority. 

Bobe is a member of the West Piedmont Workforce Investment Board, member of the Virginia Economic Developers Association where she serves as co-chair of the Downtown Special Interests Group, member of the International Economic Development Council, Secretary of the Dan River Business Development Center Board of Directors, Chair of Southern Virginia Regional Alliance, Executive Director of the Danville Community Development Entity, board member of the Danville Area Development Foundation, board member of Danville Industrial Development, Incorporated, and Executive Director of the Key to Danville Foundation. 

Bobe is a native of Danville, Virginia and graduated from Virginia Tech with a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing Management. She is also a graduate of the University of Oklahoma’s Economic Development Institute and the Danville Pittsylvania County Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Southside program. Bobe has been named to the Virginia 500 Power List by Virginia Business Magazine for three consecutive years.

Dean of the Virginia Tech Pamplin College of Business Saonee Sarker officially began as Dean of the Virginia Tech Pamplin College of Business on July 1, 2023.

Prior to her role as dean, Saonee (pronounced Sha-o-nee) Sarker served as a professor in the Department of Informatics in the School of Economics and Management at Lund University, Sweden. While at Lund University, she also served as a visiting professor in the Department of Management at the London School of Economics. Previously, Dean Sarker was at the University of Virginia McIntire School of Commerce from 2013-21, where she held many roles including senior associate dean for academic affairs, area coordinator of IT, Rolls Royce Commonwealth Commerce Professor, and professor of IT. At Washington State University, Sarker’s 11-year tenure included chair of the Department of Management, Information Systems, and Entrepreneurship; George and Carolyn Hubman Distinguished Professor in Management Information Systems; associate professor of information systems; and Ph.D. program coordinator. 

Dean Sarker brings a wealth of research experience to the Pamplin College of Business. She is the director of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) for MIS Quarterly, serving as an ambassador for DEI initiatives and senior editor emeritus for the journal. She also is senior editor of the Journal of the Association for Information Systems. Among her research interests are smart infrastructure and sustainability, healthcare information technology and technostress, technology-enabled collaboration, and more.

Dean Sarker earned a bachelor's degree from Lady Brabourne College (Calcutta University), an MBA from the University of Cincinnati, and a Ph.D. from Washington State University.

Dr. Kristin Lamoureux is an accomplished hospitality and tourism professional with over 25 years of experience as an educator, researcher and consultant in tourism, ecotourism, adventure tourism, tourism development, destination management and marketing, hospitality management, marketing, strategic planning and research. 

Most recently, she serves as the Director of the MSBA-HTM Graduate program and a Collegiate Professor of Tourism and Hospitality Management at Virginia Tech University. Prior to VT, she served as the Associate Dean of the Jonathan M. Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism at New York University.  Prior to NYU, Dr. Lamoureux was the Executive Director of the International Institute of Tourism Studies (IITS).

Her primary focus areas include indigenous tourism development,  tourism development, sustainable tourism, tourism and hospitality workforce development, policy and infrastructure intervention, economic development, culture-heritage tourism, accreditation, destination management, public private partnerships, animal welfare and tourism and rural or community tourism development.

Dr. Lamoureux has an A.S. from La Universidad Catolica del Ecuador, a B.S. from Johnson and Wales University in Rhode Island, a Master of Tourism Administration and a Ph.D. in Business Administration with a focus on Strategic Management and Public Policy from The George Washington University in Washington, DC. She is a native-born English speaker and is fluent in written and spoken Spanish.

Nancy Gard McGehee, PhD is Professor and Co-editor of the Journal of Travel Research, the 2021 top-ranked impact factor journal in the area of tourism and Pamplin elite journal.  Her research focus is rural tourism development at both the domestic and international levels. She has published over 49 refereed journal articles, 2 books and 5 book chapters. She is a Fulbright Specialist Program Awardee (Portugal, May 2015, Rural Tourism Development), received the Virginia Tech Alumni Award for Excellence in International Research in 2014, was cited as an Outstanding Woman in Travel Research by Women in Travel and Tourism International (WITTI) in April 2017, and received the Best Qualitative Research Methods Paper Award, TTRA Conference, June 2021. 

Leading the charge in the development of the Hospitality Management and Tourism program, and elevating Hospitality Leadership in our region is Thomas Perugini. Thomas comes to Averett from Jupiter Florida with over thirty-five years of leadership experience in the hospitality industry. He has worked for some of the finest hotels and resorts in South Florida including the Ocean Reef Club, the Breakers Resort, Hilton, and Marriott. Thomas also has over seven years of teaching and program development experience in both Hospitality Management and Culinary Management. He has his MBA, MHM, and is ABD in his doctoral program in Organizational Leadership. With his combined industry experience and educational background Thomas brings a well-balanced skill set to Averett for the development and launch of this exciting new program.

Mrs. Angela Rigney is the Director of Career, Technical, and Adult Education for Pittsylvania County Schools.  She has served in this role for the past twelve years; in addition, she also served as the Principal of the Pittsylvania Career and Technical Center for three years.  In her role as CTE Director, she is committed to the success of her region and state by growing and expanding the Career and Technical Education Programs to meet the demands of industry.  She oversees 77 CTE Instructors in 4 Middle Schools, 4 High Schools, STEM Academy, and a Career and Technical Center.  She is involved in managing numerous budgets at the local, state, and federal level, data collection, professional development, program evaluations, curriculum and program development, grant writing, serving on advisory committees, developing partnerships with business and industry as well as other regional partners, and providing leadership in the daily requirements of Career and Technical Education. 

She is passionate about CTE and works with many partners across the Region, State, and Nation to transform education and ensure we have a skilled workforce.  She serves on numerous committees and has implemented new programs at PCTC including Precision Machining, Electrical Automation and Robotics, Mechanical Automation and Robotics, Welding, STEM Academy, Elementary STEM Program, Cybersecurity Systems Technology, and Computer Network Hardware Operations with plans for additional expansions.  In addition, she has been a key member of the planning committee for the Go Virginia Initiative that will increase opportunities in Advanced Manufacturing and Information Technology.  She served as the coordinator for the Go-Tec Career Connections labs that were introduced to middle schools and serves on the Career Expo Planning Committee along with many others.  She has served in numerous leadership roles including Past-President of the Region VI Career and Technical Education Administrators, Region VI Representative, President-Elect, President, and Past President of State Board for VACTEA.  She has also presented at conferences across the country to share the vision and passion of “Innovation, Opportunity, and Excellence” in Pittsylvania County Schools. Mrs. Rigney and her team host tours of the divisions innovative CTE programs to potential students, parents, community members, business and industry partners, higher education institutions, economic development prospects, and others from all the country both nationally and internationally. 

Mrs. Rigney has been recognized on several occasions for her leadership roles and passion for Career and Technical Education. She was recognized in New Orleans in December 2021 as one of three finalists in the country for the 2021 Trade and Industrial Education Lifetime Achievement Award. In addition, she was named the 2022 Virginia Association of Career and Technical Education Administrator of the Year.

Dr. Gwyndolyn Stone is a Danville native.  I received my Bachelor's Degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, my MBA from Averett University, and my doctorate from Virginia State University.  I have worked for Danville Public Schools for 13 years, mainly as a passionate Business Education Teacher, enthusiastically fueling students' critical thinking ability and creating engaging learning opportunities.  Additionally, I served as the Work-Based Learning Coordinator, and this year, I was promoted to the Career and Education Director. Embarking in this new role enables me to implement and support programs and teams.  My proudest accomplishment is being the parent of three children: my daughter is a Senior at Hampton University, and my two sons are successful DPS students in the 11th-grade Academy of Engineering and Technology program and a 6th-grade Middle School Student.

Natori Neal serves as the Apprenticeship Program Coordinator II with IALR. She is responsible for employer outreach and developing registered apprenticeship positions in partnership with regional employers and the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry. Neal has several years of experience in workforce development, community and business engagement and human services. She most recently served as an NCWorks WIOA Youth and Young Adult Program Coordinator in Rockingham County, N.C., for Goodwill Industries of Central North Carolina. Neal holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science with a minor in Criminal Justice from East Carolina University, a certificate in Facilitating Career Development from the NCWorks Training Center, and a certification in Nonviolent Crisis Intervention from the Crisis Prevention Institute.