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SVHEC adjusts structure to meet changing needs

South Boston News
From left, Brenda Terry, chief finance and operations officer; Nettie Simon-Owens, chief workforce advancement officer; David Kenealy, special assistant for research and development.
SoVaNow.com / March 08, 2018
Betty H. Adams, executive director of the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center announced changes to the agency’s organizational structure to better match agency needs with staff expertise.

Agency needs include growing and professionalizing SVHEC technical training programs, ensuring workforce trainees have appropriate support services to ensure success, maintaining the sustainability of technical training programs, and expanding the economic development capacity of the R&D Center of Advanced Manufacturing and Energy Efficiency, Adams said.

“Since 2015, the SVHEC has evolved significantly. We’ve launched the SoVA Center of Manufacturing Excellence and IT Academy initiatives, and been successful in securing the authority and partial funding needed to deliver non-credit workforce training. The reorganization will allow us to adjust to the SVHEC’s evolution by ensuring we are matching the agency’s needs with staff skills,” said Adams.

Newly named chief finance and operations officer Brenda Terry maintains oversight of accounting and budgets, human resources, maintenance, operations, and information technology. Under the new organizational structure, Terry will assume oversight of the SVHEC’s Student and Partner Advancement division which includes communications, literacy, and the Center of Nursing Excellence. She has been tasked with maintaining program sustainability and ensuring SVHEC trainees have the support services required to be successful in their technical training careers.

Terry has held senior level accounting positions in the manufacturing, healthcare, and finance sectors, and previously served as the SVHEC’s accounting manager for 10 years. As accounting manager, Terry held primary responsibility for the agency’s day-to-day accounting operations, and managed a complex budget encompassing multiple funding sources and multi-year grants.

With 25 years of public and private sector experiences including small manufacturing operations, instructional and training facilitation, and training program development and implementation, Nettie Simon-Owens has been named chief workforce development officer. In this role, she assumes oversight of all SVHEC workforce training programs, including the SoVA Center of Manufacturing Excellence and IT Academy. Simon-Owens has been tasked with building program enrollment while ensuring program quality and standardizing processes across the agency’s training programs.

“We’ve launched strong workforce training programs, and now we have to take them to the next level and ensure consistency and quality of training across all programs. There is no one more capable or experienced to do that than Nettie Simon-Owens,” Adams said.

According to Adams, one of the agency’s strategic needs is a renewed focus on the R&D Center for Advanced Manufacturing & Energy Efficiency. To bring this focus, Adams has named David Kenealy special assistant for research and development. Kenealy brings an impressive set of comprehensive experiences to this position including research and development for manufacturing, higher education program development, and holding senior level positions within industry including Plant Manager for Highland House Furniture, based in Mandawa, India and director of quality assurance, engineering, and sample-making for Maitland-Smith, Inc., based in Cebu, Philippines.

Kenealy will focus on expanding the SVHEC R&D Center’s project portfolio by positioning it as an economic development incubator. “We’re working on some exciting projects, like the reusable wine barrel and our continuing research with Virginia Tech on the use of Southern Yellow Pine to produce Cross-laminated Timber (CLT), that have great potential for economic development. Under the new organizational structure, David will be able to focus on developing existing projects while looking ahead for the next best educational opportunity,” Adams said.

One of those opportunities includes exploring the potential for energy-related programming. Energy efficiencies being adopted in construction and manufacturing processes by residential, commercial and industrial markets are creating the need for workers skilled in the installation, maintenance, and oversight of energy systems. “We believe there’s an opportunity for SVHEC and our educational partners to get in front of this trend, but first we need to do our due diligence--that’s what David is being asked to do,” Adams said.

Kenealy will be responsible for launching the SVHEC’s Career Tech Academy (CTA). This program will provide high school students in Halifax, Charlotte, and Mecklenburg counties with access to hands-on training in mechatronics, IT, and precision machining. Students will earn valuable job skills, industry recognized certifications, and have a direct pathway into advanced technical training programs offered by the SVHEC and its educational partners.

The SVHEC’s new structure is only a few weeks old, but Adams said she can already see the positive impact it is making. “Reorganizations are never easy, but our staff is adapting incredibly well and seems energized. The best part of the SVHEC is our people, and we’ve made a concerted effort to match the right people with the right skills in the right jobs. We have a lot of exciting opportunities ahead of us. I’m confident these organizational changes will position us for continued success.”

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