Growing activity and succession planning call for expanded executive leadership

The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) has announced its search for a President, a new position created by the board of trustees. To aid in the transition process, Dr. Betty Jo Foster will serve as Interim President for the newly formed role. Current Executive Director Mark Gignac will continue with certain administrative and operational responsibilities under the new structure. The expansion of executive leadership is a result of extensive growth in the level of activity of IALR, as well as strategic succession planning.

“The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research has served as a regional catalyst for economic growth and transformation of Southern Virginia since 2002, and we are committed to ensuring this legacy continues for many more decades to come," said Roy Ford Jr., D.Min., chair of the IALR board of trustees. “While the board recognizes and appreciates the accomplishments of IALR under the leadership of Mark Gignac, our recent completion of a seven-month strategic planning process uncovered the need for expanded top management resources to provide increased strategic leadership. The addition of a President will help better balance and focus responsibilities while fulfilling our strategy of intentional, well-executed succession planning.”

IALR has formed a seven-member search committee to identify, interview and recommend candidates for the position. It has also chosen Korn Ferry in Washington, D.C., to conduct a national search. The firm will work with community stakeholders to gather input regarding the preferred attributes and qualifications for the new President. The President will provide high-level, strategic leadership, and the goal is to fill the position in 2022.

Foster will serve as Interim President, effective Jan. 5, bringing significant leadership experience to the role which includes time as former Chair of the IALR board of trustees. She also has served as Interim President for both Danville Community College and Central Virginia Community College. In addition, she was the Interim President and CEO for the Danville Pittsylvania County Chamber of Commerce.

“We are delighted to welcome Dr. Betty Jo Foster as Interim President and look forward to the keen insight and strategic oversight she will provide,” said Ford. “Her valuable experience and deep knowledge of our area’s challenges and opportunities will aid our efforts to establish an expanded leadership structure and continue driving successful economic transformation throughout Southern Virginia.”

IALR recently completed a seven-month strategic planning process. The work involved input from various internal and external stakeholders, including the entire board and all employees as well as many others, and resulted in the following strategic themes, all requiring significant strategic oversight: Virginia’s go-to partner for business and economic growth, center of excellence for education and workforce development, globally competitive business ecosystem, collaborative team success, excellence in board leadership and decision making, strategic expansion of applied research, and culture of learning.

The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research serves Virginia as a regional catalyst for economic transformation with applied research, advanced learning, economic development, advanced manufacturing and conference services. IALR’s major footprint focuses within Southern Virginia, including the counties of Patrick, Henry, Franklin, Pittsylvania, Halifax and Mecklenburg along with the cities of Martinsville and Danville. For more information, visit www.ialr.org.