Join the region’s most influential policymakers, higher education leadership, C-Suite, and senior HR executives.

At the 2024 Future of Talent Summit, regional leadership from all sectors will converge to redefine how employers, higher education, and government collaborate to develop talent. We’ll kick off with state leaders providing insights on their transformational plan to ensure Virginia is a magnet for talented young people and business investment while providing the skilled workforce needed to fuel business growth and job creation.

The summit will also feature a panel discussion with leaders from our region’s prestigious higher education institution. This panel will focus on timely and critical topics on how higher education can better cater to industry, how Industry should be engaging with students, and how to develop a healthy talent pipeline.

In the afternoon, there will be optional Lunch & Learn sessions created to dive even deeper into different aspects of talent development both regionally and within your organizations. These sessions are perfect for managers, human resources leaders, marketers tasked with hiring support, and those looking to connect with higher education and area support services. Questions? Please email julia@roanoke.org.

Roanoke College campus

This year’s Future Talent Summit 2024 will be hosted at the beautiful Roanoke College campus in Salem, Virginia.


This collaborative effort includes career-service professionals from every major college and higher education institution in the region to ensure buy-in from students, with incentives and transportation offered, and extra effort taken campus-wide to encourage participation.

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LOCATION: Roanoke College, Morris M. Cregger Center (detailed map sent to all registrants)

DATE & TIME: Thursday, March 7 from 8:30 am to 2:30 pm. Coffee hour starts at 7:45 am.

FORMAT: Following a welcome from state leadership, the morning program will include a keynote from former Virginia House of Delegates Speaker and President of the Virginia Business Higher Education Council, Kirk Cox, followed by a higher education leadership panel moderated by Dr. Shushok of Roanoke College. In the afternoon, there will be optional lunch and learn sessions covering three unique topics.

HOSTS: The event is hosted by the Greater Roanoke Workforce Development Board, Roanoke Regional Partnership, Roanoke Blacksburg Technology Council, Roanoke College, and in partnership with the New River Valley and all area higher education institutions.

ATTENDEES: The event is open to all private and public sector higher education, company decision-makers, human resource professionals, marketing departments, and local and state government.

COST: $45/Full Day Pass (Includes Lunch & Learn Sessions) or $35/Keynote and Presidential Panel only. Register Now.

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Keynote: Kirk Cox

President, Virginia Business Higher Education Council

Former Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates, Kirk Cox, has been leading the charge on the state’s Growth4VA program, emphasizing talent development and college affordability in the Commonwealth.

Cox’s deep experience at the intersection of businesses, education, and government will be especially valuable to execute the Growth4VA agenda, which calls for affordable talent pathways, internship opportunities, performance-based investments, and strategic partnerships throughout higher education.

State Leadership: Nicole Overley and Anthony Reedy

Nicole Overley
Deputy Secretary of Workforce, Commonwealth of Virginia

As Deputy Secretary of Workforce Development, Nicole supports the Commonwealth-wide ecosystem of employers, educators, agencies, and service providers who together enable every one of us to thrive. Nicole is also tasked with establishing the new and forward-leaning workforce hub called Virginia Works.

Anthony Reedy
Deputy Secretary of Labor,
Commonwealth of Virginia

In his role as Deputy Secretary for the Commonwealth, Anthony drives policies on workforce development and provides executive oversight to the Dept. of Professional and Occupational Regulations, Dept. of Labor, and the VA Employment Commission.

Higher Education Leadership Panel: The Intersection of Industry and Education

Frank Shushok Jr., Ph.D.
President, Roanoke College

President Shushok is an energetic, involved and curious president. He holds a B.S. in history from Baylor University, and M.A. in higher education and student affairs administration from Ohio State, and a Ph.D. in higher education policy from the University of Maryland. Read his full bio.

Robert H. Sandel, Ph.D.
President, Virginia Western Community College

In his 20-plus years at Virginia Western, Dr. Sandel has spearheaded unprecedented growth that has positively impacted countless students’ lives and helped drive the Roanoke Region to new heights. His leadership has helped Virginia Western become a forward-thinking community college that inspires individual, community, and economic transformation. Read his full bio.

Bret Danilowicz, Ph.D.
President, Radford University

Since assuming the presidency of Radford University in July 2022, Bret Danilowicz works to ensure that the transformative benefits of higher education are readily accessible to the diverse populations served by Radford University. Under his leadership, Radford is connecting the talents and knowledge of its students and faculty with businesses, nonprofits, and local governments to develop work-based learning opportunities and strengthen economic outcomes for the surrounding region and the Commonwealth. Read his full bio.

Mirta Martin, Ph.D.
President, Ferrum College

A native of Havana, Cuba, and an immigrant to the United States, Martin uses her interpersonal and cultural expertise to work diligently to promote access to affordable educational opportunities. She has been involved in both the public and private sectors with expertise in strategic planning, marketing, crisis management, budgeting and risk mitigation, program innovation, and funding. Read her full bio.

John J. Rainone, Ed.D.
President, Mountain Gateway Community College (MGCC)

Dr. Rainone has over 30 years of experience as a teacher, administrator, and chief executive officer of MGCC. Student success is his number one priority and ensuring that MGCC has a positive impact on the communities in this region by affirming the values of learning and service, enriching the lives of students, and enhancing the quality of life in the area. Read his full bio.

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Lunch & Learn Sessions (Optional Add-On)


Explore success stories from exemplary employers like Novozymes and Branch Group who are not just hiring but developing innovative talent pathways in cooperation with K-12, community colleges, vocational training, higher education, and beyond. Hear from interns and previous interns about the impact these experiences had on their lives, emphasizing a model for retention. Start dreaming and planning a custom talent pipeline plan for your organization with help from our services teams.

Alex Hyler
CytoRecovery, VP and CSO

Working at CytoRecovery, Dr. Hyler leads a team aimed at commercializing a novel cell sorting platform with improved cell viability, recovery, and behavior. She has taken an ambitious approach when it comes to teams of interns and developing a mutually beneficial system for her company goals and student development.

Jared Heffron
Novozymes, Senior Scientist

Jared has been a microbiologist at Novonesis (Novozymes) for 11 years developing microbes for use across industries. He led the summer intern program at the Salem facility for eight years, creating an immersive opportunity for young engineers and scientists who are looking to develop a career in the industrial biotechnology industry.

Cecilia Viara-Scott
Brown Edwards, HR Director

Cecilia is an experienced Human Resources professional at Brown Edwards & Company, LLC, with over nine years of experience. She enjoys helping organizations reach their target through the implementation of initiatives aimed at increasing manager effectiveness and promoting an inclusive environment for talent.

Brenna Valle
VT Center for Economic and Community Engagement

A recent Roanoke College graduate who interned at the Salem-Roanoke Chamber in 2023, and now supports internships in Virginia through her work at the Virginia Talent + Opportunity Partnership (GO Virginia project).

Aaron Kelly
Lawrence Companies

Director of HR at Lawrence Companies with over 13 years’ experience. Aaron’s servant leadership model and community involvement continue to foster a culture of diversity, inclusion, and opportunity.

Courtney Callis
Branch Group

Courtney has 20 years’ experience in the construction and engineering industries with a focus on human resources, benefits and compensation, employee relations, and learning and workforce development.


If you show a list of 100 regional employers to students on area campuses, they may know who two or three of them are. As a region, we need to change that! Hear from college career services folks and employer relations advisors, on all the ways you can showcase internships and early career opportunities on campus. Learn effective strategies for communicating with Gen Z students so your team can confidently build brand awareness on campus.

Meghan Jester
Roanoke College, Director of Career Exploration

In her role at Roanoke, Meghan is focused on student-centered career development where she aims to enhance student experiences and career readiness. Jester creates and implements programs, services, resources, and engagement opportunities that support Roanoke students as they explore and prepare for their chosen career path.

Carrie Cousins
LeadPoint, Director of Digital Marketing

Award-winning interdisciplinary marketing leader with experience in marketing, design, and media. For 15+ years she has helped businesses tell their story and get better results. An adjunct professor of marketing at Virginia Tech and a background in economic development, she is consistently recognized as best in class.

Lee Svete
Radford University

Lee joined Radford University as the Director of Career and Talent Development in 2024. He has built two new career programs in higher education over two decades at Notre Dame, Wake Forest, and the founding director of The van Vlissingen Career Center at Emory & Henry College.

Shonny Cooke
Career Services, Virginia Western Community College

Shonny drives initiatives, activities, and events that impact outcomes for student access

Shonny drives initiatives, activities, and events that impact outcomes for student access to services, career readiness, work-based learning, and employment. Through collaborative partnerships with the private sector VWCC can provide workforce solutions that bring opportunities to students and graduates.

Thallya Diaz
Career Coach, Radford Univ.

A dedicated educator striving to guide students to becoming the masters of their careers. She offers professional workshops and seminars, professional development and community engagement events, networking opportunities with employers, and individualized coaching to students.

Matthew Cowley, Ph.D.
Associate Vice Provost for Career and Professional Development, Virginia Tech

Dr. Cowley began his career in higher education and career services at Auburn University. He has been privileged to serve the University of Florida’s Career Connections Center and, most recently, in Old Dominion University’s Career Development Services. Dr. Cowley is driven by the opportunity to provide positive postsecondary outcomes for all students and recognizes the invaluable role that internships and other work-based learning opportunities play in career readiness and postgraduate success.


Join Amy White, the Dean of STEM and Workforce Solutions at Virginia Western Community College, and discover how new and existing programs are meeting the changing needs of industry while creating meaningful paths toward in-demand and innovative careers. Hear firsthand experiences from VWCC students who have taken diverse pathways through their educational journeys in the sectors of advanced manufacturing and biotechnology. Engage in a dialogue about the exciting possibilities that lie ahead for our region and hear how these students are being prepared to advance and support our regional workforce.

Amy White
Virginia Western, Dean of STEM

Driven by a lifelong love of science, has been a teacher and professor, and is now a leader at Virginia Western Community College creating revolutionary workforce solutions and providing students with drive and purpose in meaningful fields.

Kari Stanley
Fralin Biomedical, Phd Candidate

Follow Kari’s talent journey from Virginia Western Community College to Virginia Tech to graduate research assistant in translational biology, medicine, and health at Fralin Biomedical Research Insitute. What drives these choices, and what support did she receive along the way?


Recruiting and retaining talent reduces business costs and drives success. Learn best practices for retaining your current workforce, while recruiting your future workforce. Our panelists will discuss real experiences and solutions being implemented by regional businesses and industry partners. Learn how to take advantage of incentives and funding, and discover resources to help your bottom line.

Marty Holliday
New River/Mount Rogers Workforce Board, Executive Director

Marty’s focus is on initiatives that foster regional collaboration and collective impact to improve the availability of skilled labor for in-demand occupations needed by businesses and provide livable.  To meet their goals her board has leveraged over $10 million to the region for training, employment and capacity-building in six years. 

Morgan Romeo
Greater Roanoke Workforce Board, Executive Director

The GRWDB provides strategic solutions and programs to assist business, industry, and economic development partners with a qualified workforce. This includes talent pipeline development to ensure businesses have skilled employees who meet current and future job demands.

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7:45 AMCoffee and NetworkingLobby – Mezzanine
8:30 AMProgram Begins –
Welcome: Dr. Frank Shushok, President, Roanoke College
Cregger Center
8:40 AMGreeting: Nicole Overley, Virginia Deputy Secretary of WorkforceCregger Center
9:00 AMIntroduction: Heywood Fralin, Chairman, Retirement Unlimited Inc.
Keynote: Kirk Cox – The Future of Talent in Virginia
Cregger Center
10:00 AMCoffee Break
**Visit employer services vendors
10:30 AMPresidential Higher Education Panel Discussion – Moderated by President Shushok, Roanoke CollegeCregger Center
11:30 AMBreak and Networking
**Visit employer service vendors
Lobby – Mezzanine
12:00 PMLunch & Learn Sessions (Optional Add-On)Four Breakout Locations
1:30 PMVisit Employer Service Vendors (optional)Lobby – Mezzanine
2:00-2:30 PMDepart

**Details are subject to change slightly (location, time, etc.).

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Interested in Sponsoring Talent Attraction in the Roanoke Region?

Leverage Get2KnowNoke to help your company engage with young talent. We are looking for sponsors to invest in talent attraction events and programs including;

Please reach out to Julia Boas ASAP with interest. We can customize options and are flexible regarding budget and scope.

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