Campus & Community

PBSC joins new initiative linking businesses and schools

From left are: Dr. Gary Vonk, Dr. Kimberly Lea, Dr. William “Bill” Fleming, Dr. John Kelly, Dr. Robert Avossa, Ava Parker, J.D., Dr. George Hanbury and Dr. Kevin Ross.

In an unprecedented partnership between industry and education, the Business Development Board of Palm Beach County has created the Academic Leaders Council, a sweeping new initiative that joins businesses and schools to ensure that curricula prepare students for jobs and create a skilled workforce for the many companies that are flocking to Palm Beach County.

Kelly Smallridge, president  & CEO of the Business Development Board of Palm Beach County, launched the program at a forum on Oct. 20 at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach.  Coming together for the first time, event participants included PBSC President Ava L. Parker, J.D., as well as the presidents of five other universities in Palm Beach County; the Palm Beach County School District superintendent; and officers of 17 Palm Beach County companies in the life sciences, aviation, aerospace, engineering, IT/communications and trades/manufacturing industries.

“As more companies are attracted to the economic and lifestyle advantages of moving to and expanding in Palm Beach County, we are pulling out all the stops to ensure that the hiring needs of business are met,” Smallridge said. “Our inaugural meeting focused on four industries – Life Sciences, Aviation/Aerospace/Engineering, IT/Telecommunications and the trades.  Future meetings will include Business and Financial Services, Logistics and Distribution, Manufacturing and Corporate Headquarters.  All of these sectors are expanding rapidly in Palm Beach County.” Additionally, many participants marveled that so many top-level academics and industry leaders convened in one room for this purpose.

 In addition to Parker, the leaders of Palm Beach County’s academic institutions at the launch included:

  • Robert Avossa, Superintendent, Palm Beach County School District
  • William “Bill” Fleming, President, Palm Beach Atlantic University
  • George Hanbury, President  & CEO, Nova Southeastern University
  • John Kelly, President, Florida Atlantic University
  • Gary Vonk, Flagship Campus President, Keiser University
  • Kimberly Lea, West Palm Beach Campus President, Keiser University
  • Kevin Ross, President, Lynn University

Industry leaders at the launch included:

  • Aviation/Aerospace/Engineering : Catherine Haas Barre, President, Parametric Solutions, Inc.; Russell Moore, Operations Manager, Belcan Engineering Group, LLC; John Fischetti, General Manager, Sikorsky and Michael O’Neill, Site Manager, Pratt & Whitney.
  • Life Sciences and Healthcare:  Dr. Fred Sancilio, Founder and President, Sancilio & Company; John Swartz, Vice President, KRS Global Biotechnology;  Dr. Claudia Zylberberg, Founder & CEO, Akron Biotechnology, LLC and Dr. Adam Ibrahim, CEO, Horizon Pharma.
  • Information Technology and Telecommunications : Daniel Cane, President & CEO, Modernizing Medicine;  Jim Milton, CEO, Campus Management Corp.;  Lenny Chesal, Chief Evangelizer,; and Robert Missroon, VP – Finance, CFO, Document Storage Systems (DSS).
  • Trades/Construction: David Aiken, Director Commercial Development, Florida Region, US Operations, Cemex;  Michael Daley, President, Hi-Tech Roofing; Rick Seymour, CEO, Carpenter Electric;  Dale Hedrick, President, Hedrick Brothers Construction; Alan Poston, Vice President, Hardives, Inc. and Carol Bowen, VP Govt. Affairs,  Associated Builders and Contractors.

The Academic Leaders Council is the first of its kind in Palm Beach County and will focus on preserving and expanding intellectual capital in the county and ensuring that the curriculum taught in the classroom meets the needs of industries that are growing in the County.  The direct goals of the Council are to:

  • Create a formal connection between top leaders of academic institutions and industry leaders
  • Increase internship opportunities for all students
  • Review curricula to ensure better alignment with employer needs
  • Provide a platform for academic leaders to better understand the technology and innovation that is present in Palm Beach County

Among other topics, during this first session the Academic Leaders Council discussed creating expanded opportunities for internship programs, apprenticeship programs, externship programs for teachers, as well as close collaboration, mentorship and other initiatives that will provide students with real-life exposure to the diverse industries in Palm Beach County.

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