The Board of Trustees at the Institute for Advanced Learning & Research (IALR) has named Mark Gignac as the new Executive Director following a three-month nationwide search.

“Mark has been serving as our interim director for the past three months and has done an excellent job,” said Don Merricks, chairman of the Board of Trustees at IALR. “As executive director, he will bring his entrepreneurial spirit, his distinct management style with an ability to run efficient organizations and his collaborative nature to IALR to keep us moving in a positive direction as we grow our economic, research, career and educational development resources within our footprint and beyond.”

Gignac lives in Danville and has founded, owned and operated businesses within the region over the past 30 years. These include Engineering Design & Sales, Inc., Chartwell Homes LLC, Dan River Plants LLC and mostly recently he served as the director of research at IALR.

He is a graduate of Virginia Tech with a bachelor’s degree in marketing and is an active member of the community having previously served on Danville City Council and the Danville Development Council. He has also served on the boards of the Dan River Business Development Center, Southside Rising Venture Capital and the Southern Piedmont Technology Council.

“I am humbled to be chosen to lead the Institute during this exciting period of southern Virginia’s history,” said Mark Gignac. “Many exciting projects are underway in the community and the Institute is poised to continue our leadership role. I look forward to working with our team and our partners in moving the Institute to the next level to better serve the community and accomplish our core mission of economic development.” 

Gignac will begin his new role on November 1.

“We are fortunate to have someone of Mark’s caliber ready to step in and lead right here in southern Virginia,” continued Merricks. “Mark is the kind of leader that offers the opportunity for all within the organization to lead and to grow in their respective fields while working collaboratively with our partners to make sure that the Institute is fulfilling our mission.”

The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) serves as a regional catalyst for economic transformation. Their core focus areas include research that provides a clear path to commercialization, advanced learning opportunities where education meets experience, and economic development through conferencing and a partnership with the Southern Virginia Regional Alliance.

The IALR footprint served includes the counties of Patrick, Franklin, Henry, Pittsylvania, Halifax and Mecklenburg along with the cities of Martinsville and Danville.

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