PRESS RELEASE: Over 400 Attendees Gather for 2022 Virginia Education and Workforce Conference 
October 11th, 2022

PRESS RELEASE: Over 400 Attendees Gather for 2022 Virginia Education

and Workforce Conference 

“Positioning Virginia’s Workforce for Success: Connecting Learning to Earning”

Contact: Hannah Emerson

RICHMOND, VIRGINIA – Moments ago, the 2022 Virginia Education and Workforce Conference, hosted by the Virginia Chamber Foundation, the Virginia Business Higher Education Council (VBHEC), and the Virginia Talent and Opportunity Partnership (Virginia TOP), concluded with participation of over 400 attendees.  

This signature conference serves to foster meaningful discussions between Virginia’s business, higher education, and public policy leaders on how Virginia can adapt to successfully compete on a global stage by aligning its education systems with the needs of our modern workforce to prepare today’s learners for tomorrow’s career opportunities.

“Collaborative efforts to fill the current workforce demand are needed for Virginia to keep its rank as a top state for business, education and talent,” said Virginia Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Barry DuVal. “Together policymakers, business and higher education leadership can work together to meet the growing workforce needs of the Commonwealth and its economy.” 

The Virginia Chamber of Commerce also announced several recipients of the Free Enterprise Award given to members of the Virginia General Assembly for their efforts to advance legislation supporting education and workforce initiatives as outlined in Blueprint 2030.

Free Enterprise Award Winners Include: 

Delegate Glenn Davis
Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn
Senator Jennifer McClellan
Senator Todd Pillion

Note: Additional Free Enterprise Awards will be presented later in 2022. 

“I am honored to receive the Virginia Chamber of Commerce Free Enterprise award. The chamber is unapologetically pro-business and continues to support bold initiatives to help the next generation of entrepreneurs succeed, small businesses flourish, and relocate successful companies to Virginia bringing large numbers of jobs with them.” said Delegate Glenn Davis

“As Speaker of the House of Delegates, I worked to create a Virginia that was open and welcoming and for the Commonwealth to earn recognition as the number one state to do business was a highlight of my tenure. I share the Chamber’s goal of investing in public education from our littlest learners to our world class colleges and universities, which is why I patroned bills creating the G3 program and expanding access to early learning. It is an honor to be recognized today and I look forward to continuing our work to create a more prosperous Commonwealth for all Virginians.” said Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn

“Our public education system is the foundation of a thriving economy. Thank you to the Virginia Chamber of Commerce for your commitment to strengthening and investing in education from birth to career and recognition of my work to do the same. I’m proud to have led the Senate efforts to fully fund our K-12 schools, expand the number of counselors and support staff for our children, and make historic bipartisan investments in repairing school infrastructure. I will continue to work with Virginia business leaders to support job growth in our Commonwealth and make the necessary investments in our quality public schools.” said Senator Jennifer McClellan

“Working to make Virginia the best place to live, work, and raise a family is a continuous and collaborative enterprise. We have an important responsibility to foster an environment in which competition and innovation can thrive through a free market, strong workforce, and world class education system. Promoting these ideals as a small business owner and legislator remains a top priority at home in Southwest Virginia and in Richmond.” said Senator Todd Pillion

Additional Highlights from Conference Included:

(Listed in order of appearance)

Welcome and Opening Remarks:
Barry DuVal, President & CEO, Virginia Chamber of Commerce
Fred Thompson, Chief Administrative Officer, Thompson Hospitality and Chair, Virginia Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors

Morning Keynote Address:
The Honorable Aimee Guidera, Virginia Secretary of Education

Special Remarks:
Peter Blake, Director, State Council of Higher Education for Virginia  

Panel Discussion: “How Virginia Is Addressing Workforce Readiness”
Moderated by:
The Honorable Bryan Slater, Virginia Secretary of Labor
Dr. Makola Abdullah, President, Virginia State University
Ed Dalrymple, President, Chemung Contracting Corporation/ Cedar Mountain Stone
Dr. Sharon Morrissey, Interim Chancellor, Virginia Community College System
Dr. Katherine Rowe, President, William & Mary 

Special Remarks:
Chris West, Director of Government Relations, Kaiser Permanente

Panel Discussion: “The Future of Virginia’s Talent Pipeline”
Moderated by:
Dr. Bill Hazel, Senior Deputy Executive Director, The Claude Moore Charitable Foundation
Dr. Scott Brabrand, Executive Director, Virginia Association of School Superintendents
Heather McKay Executive Director, Virginia Office of Education Economics
Dr. Tim Sands, President, Virginia Tech
Nile Somerville, VP of Field Human Resources, Cox Communications
Joe Wilkins, President, Bon Secours St. Francis Medical Center

Panel Discussion: “Creating an Economy for All”
Moderated by:
Dr. Dietra Trent, Executive Director, White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity through Historically Black Colleges and Universities
Susan Dewey, CEO, Virginia Housing
Natasha Gray, Global Lead, People Resource Groups, S&P Global
Dr. Paula Pando, President, J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College

Special Remarks:
Kirk Cox, President, Virginia Business Higher Education Council

Luncheon Keynote Address:
Kevin Stevenson, President & CEO, PRA Group, Inc.


About the Virginia Chamber Foundation:

The Virginia Chamber Foundation tracks Virginia’s economic competitiveness, conducts research and analysis, and hosts programs, connected to the priorities of Blueprint Virginia. In December 2021, the Chamber released its new statewide strategic economic development plan, Blueprint Virginia 2030, which has engaged over 7,000 business, economic development, workforce, education, housing, and other community leaders to lay out a plan to ensure Virginia remains at the top of national business climate rankings. Learn more at

About the Virginia Chamber of Commerce:

The Virginia Chamber of Commerce is the largest business advocacy organization in the Commonwealth, with more than 28,000 members. The Chamber is a non-partisan, business advocacy organization that works in the legislative, regulatory, and political arenas to act as the catalyst for positive change in all areas of economic development and competitiveness for Virginia. Learn more at