September 23rd, 2021


[Danville, VA] – The Danville Pittsylvania County Chamber of Commerce’s annual awards event was held virtually on Thursday, September 16, 2021. The Chamber recognized three Young Professionals PACE [Professional and Community Engagement] award winners. Averett University, in partnership with the Chamber, awarded the 2020-21 Educators of the Year. Also honored were two outstanding businesses with the Pinnacle and Pinnacle Small Business awards.

Barry DuVal, President and CEO of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, offered remarks on Blueprint Virginia 2025 which engaged over 6,000 business and community leaders from around the Commonwealth. This action plan outlines strategies for strengthening Virginia’s economic competitiveness and getting Virginia back to the top of business climate rankings.

Three young professionals were honored as PACE award winners. The Chamber created the Professional and Community Engagement Awards to showcase exceptional young professionals in the Dan River Region. This year’s winners were Maggie Richardson, The Health Collaborative; A.J. Harper, Danville Otterbots; and Amanda Schlichting, Dewberry.

This year, 29 teachers were recognized as Educator of the Year winners from their schools, and three were selected from that pool each to receive a $2,500 stipend, generously provided by the Danville Regional Foundation. The winners were Gordon Thompson, OT Bonner Middle School; Dr. Jessica Jones, Tunstall High School; and Kellie Knapp, Tunstall Middle School.

The Chamber’s Board created the Pinnacle Small Business Award in 2019 to recognize excellence in businesses with fewer than 25 employees. The winner is distinguished as a small business or organization that contributes to the economic vitality and quality of life in the region through innovative, ethical business practices, professionalism and strong community involvement. It is the highest honor awarded to a small business by the Chamber, and this year was awarded to Leggett Town and Country.

Leggett Town and Country was founded in 2002 as a local family-owned retail store featuring premium quality merchandise. Year-over-year growth in revenue, net income and employment opportunities are the result of innovative retail strategies and the expansion of the market area through outside sales, e-commerce, social media marketing, and web portals for commercial customers. This business has been a corporate sponsor and participant in the SOS program at George Washington High School. Strong supporters of the community, the owners have served on committees for the City of Danville and Danville Public Schools. The store annually sponsors fundraisers for the Danville Life Saving Crew, the DPC Cancer Association and Christmas Bucks for Kids. This business received the Hamilton Carhartt Retailer of Excellence Award, and the Chamber is proud to award them the 2021 Pinnacle Small Business Award.

The Chamber Board created the Pinnacle Award in 2011 to recognize a business or organization whose outstanding achievements serve as a model for success. In addition, a nominee is respected throughout the community for commitment to the Chamber’s values, which include excellence, integrity, transparency, collaboration and diversity, equity and inclusion. It is the highest honor awarded by the Chamber, and this year’s recipient is the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research.

The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research stands out most for their vast contributions to our region, beyond the boundaries of Danville and Pittsylvania County. Their focus has and continues to be economic transformation across Southern Virginia. They value accessibility and agility, and these values are at the heart of all of their programs and services. For almost 20 years, this organization has focused on groundbreaking applied research, outcome-based advanced learning, collaborative and strategic economic development, industry-driven advanced manufacturing training and client-focused conference services. They are at the forefront of our region and lead career-ready initiatives. They build STEM capacity in equitable and inclusive ways to help attract and retain top employers. They create a healthier workforce to improve quality of life, attract and retain employers and promote productivity and robust operations. This organization leads collaborative innovation to meet and exceed the optimization and workforce needs of new and existing industry for healthy competition in a global marketplace. They merge biology and technology for sustainable agricultural production, lead Virginia’s analytical chemistry testing services with state-of-the-art labs, instruments and expertise, and are expanding knowledge, resources and research for the growing industry of indoor farming. They are powering economic progress for Danville, Pittsylvania County and the rest of Southern Virginia. The Chamber is thrilled to award this year’s Pinnacle to the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research.

On behalf of our Chamber Board and Members, we extend a heartfelt Congratulations to all of our award recipients and thank them for the meaningful contributions they make in our region.


The Danville Pittsylvania County Chamber of Commerce accelerates business growth by connecting its members to dynamic resources and networks. The Chamber’s number one goal is to help area businesses of all sizes to grow and prosper. For more information, visit