Mark Gignac
Executive Director

Mark spent his early career building an electronics manufacturing business (E.D.S.) that operated for many years in Danville, VA. As an entrepreneur he has always enjoyed supporting economic development activities required to help transform the region. Gignac has also been actively involved in the community including serving as a member of the Danville City Council, Dan River Business Development Center, and the local venture capital fund. Gignac is a graduate of Virginia Tech. He resides in Danville with his wife Leannah where they raised four children.

Julie Brown
Director of Advanced Learning

Dr. Julie Brown joined IALR in December 2013 as the Director of Advanced Learning. She has eighteen years of experience in the education sector, working for a public research university, two community colleges, and regional K-12 districts.  Dr. Brown has extensive experience in federal grant reporting, program development, and fiscal accountability, and currently provides management services to the Dan River Region Collaborative, a regional partnership dedicated to working with employers to address workforce needs while moving individual employees to high-skill, high-wage situations.  Dr. Brown holds degrees from the University of Virginia, Longwood University and Old Dominion University. She resides in Pittsylvania County and serves on numerous non-profit boards, including The Arc of Southside, Danville Pittsylvania Community Services Board, The United Way, and the West Piedmont Workforce Investment Board.

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Leslie Dobbins
Director of Institute Conference Center & Facilities

Leslie oversees events and catering-related activities in support of the overall mission of IALR. This includes strategic promoting of IALR's Conference Services to enhance regional economic development. Leslie came to IALR in the fall of 2003 as Sales and Event Planner. She began her career in the hospitality industry in 1983, holding such positions as Membership Development Director, and Social Director for well-known hospitality organizations in Milwaukee and Louisville. Leslie’s focus is on providing service excellence, high quality integrated services and innovation. Leslie holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin.

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Linda Green
Director of Economic Development

Linda Hutson Green was selected to serve as the Director of Economic Development for the Southern Virginia Regional Alliance in October 2016, bringing experience at the federal, state, and local levels from public and private sectors and the resources of the hosting Institute for Advanced Learning and Research to assist local economic developers in marketing the Southern Virginia region. Together, they will work to provide recruitment and retention of industries in the regional footprint to create and sustain jobs and ensure the economic vitality of the region. Green worked as District Director for U.S. Congressman Robert Hurt, as Director for Federal Funding and Entrepreneurship for the Center for Innovative Technology, where she also served terms as Director of Manufacturing and Regional Technology Transfer. She also served as the President and CEO of the Dan River Business Development Center and worked as a Quality Engineer for Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. A Certified Quality Engineer, Linda holds a Master’s in Business Administration from Duke University, and is a graduate of Averett University and Danville Community College.

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Scott Lowman, PhD
Director of Applied Research

Dr. J. Scott Lowman joined IALR in 2014 and was named Director of Applied Research in 2018. He has most notably championed work in biotechnology and advanced imaging to improve agricultural productivity and sustainability. His team seeks to identify promising natural microbial biostimulant and biocontrol agents (including beneficial plant bacteria, or endophytes) to increase plant growth and health while protecting the environment. Scott’s team also uses the latest technology in unmanned aerial vehicles, multispectral and thermal imaging and robotics to improve plant productivity. In recognition of his work, Scott was named a 2017 Outstanding Recent Graduate Alumnus at Virginia Tech and was presented the Commonwealth Environmental Leadership Award from the Waldorf Foundation. He played an integral role in IALR’s recent licensure of a collection of endophytes to Indigo Ag, Inc., a leading company dedicated to harnessing nature to help farmers sustainably feed the planet. Scott has helped lead efforts to produce a library of more than 1,500 characterized endophytes, which continues to grow.

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Troy Simpson
Director of Advanced Manufacturing

Troy Simpson joined IALR in July 2018 as Director of the newly added Advanced Manufacturing division. This division works with Danville Community College (DCC) to produce a work-ready talent pipeline of skilled machinists through the existing Gene Haas Center for Integrated Machining located at IALR. Simpson brings 27 years of experience from DCC, where he led the curriculum development and implementation for advanced manufacturing. Prior to his time at DCC, he worked in design, tool and die making, and machining for the public and private sectors. Simpson has formed many industry partnerships that have resulted in more than $3 million of support for advanced manufacturing programs. He also has successfully managed more than $8 million of federal, state, and local grants to support these programs. Simpson spearheaded the development of DCC’s Metrology program and the Capstone program at IALR’s Haas Center, which has been recognized nationally as a benchmark model. He serves as the chair of the Pittsylvania Career and Technical Center advisory board and advises other manufacturing programs. 

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