South Boston, VA—Dr. Betty Adams, Executive Director of the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center (SVHEC) has announced plans to retire from her position within the next 12 months. Adams made the announcement on Wednesday, March 27th during a town hall meeting with SVHEC staff and partners.

“Returning to Southside Virginia to help support my home community through the resources of the SVHEC is without question the highlight of my career,” Adams stated. “I am filled with gratitude and pride for the phenomenal work we have been able to accomplish. This would not have been possible without the SVHEC’s talented and committed staff and partners along with a supportive board and dependable Foundation. Because of this collective effort, today the Center sits upon a strong and solid foundation—a foundation that positions the SVHEC and our community for continued future success,” she continued.

Dr. Adams assumed leadership of the SVHEC in January 2009 after building a successful academic career in North Carolina. During her 15-year tenure, the Center experienced unprecedented program success and growth which included launching several signature workforce training programs including the IT Academy, Career Tech Academy, HVAC and Welding programs. To date, hundreds of students have completed these programs earning in-demand skills and industry recognized certifications. In fiscal year 2023 alone, SVHEC’s adult workforce training programs served 205 students who earned 228 credentials. The Career Tech Academy, which serves high school juniors and seniors, served an additional 51 students who earned 155 credentials.

Adams oversaw the rebranding and relaunching of the Center’s advanced manufacturing research & development center as ProductWorks. ProductWorks is the Commonwealth’s only single source location for product design and development services. Working with regional employers and entrepreneurs, the staff at ProductWorks provide a range of services including design planning, prototyping, and small production runs.

Through Adams’ adept leadership, SVHEC achieved financial stability, focused its mission and brand, and raised its state-wide profile. The Center also increased its physical footprint with the 2011 opening of the 46,000 sq. ft Innovation Center, and the 2018 relocation of the ProductWorks division into 10,672 sq. ft of space at Imperial Lofts. Today, SVHEC’s operations stretch across three repurposed, historic textile and tobacco warehouses in the heart of downtown South Boston.

In addition to her success as executive director, Dr. Adams has also been a tireless advocate for Halifax County serving in leadership roles to assist with key community efforts. Her work includes:

  • Member of the Halifax Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership 2020 Workgroup which advocated and garnered support for the County to undertake a six-month strategic planning process in 2019.
  • Member of Team Halifax which advocated for the YES for Schools 1% local sales tax increase for school renovation and construction in 2019.
  • Serving as one of three chairs for the Community-Wide Strategic Planning Initiative
  • Past Chair and Ex-Officio Member of the Halifax County Chamber of Commerce Board
  • Member and current Chair of the Southside Behavioral Health Board
  • Member and current Chair of the GO Virginia Region 3 GO-TEC Committee
  • Chair of the Community Strategic Plan Implementation Committee
  • Chair of the CTE Showcase Committee
  • Member of the Henrietta Lacks Hometown Initiative and state-appointed member of the Henrietta Lacks Commission.

Dr. Adams has committed to remaining at the helm of the SVHEC until a successor has been named and a transition period defined. The SVHEC Board of Trustees will work with a firm to launch a national search for Adams’ successor.