Educational Foundation Member Making Impact | Virginia Peninsula Community College

Educational Foundation Member Making Impact

July 7, 2022
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Danny Bridges is in his third year on the Educational Foundation board.

When Danny Bridges, an executive with the engineering firm of McGill Associates, relocated to Hampton Roads in 2018, he looked for ways to form relationships with community partners.

“I participated heavily in the chamber of commerce, attended a lot of their events and meetings and tried to meet people,” he said.

Among those he met at one of those chamber meetings were Cyndie Callaway and Tracey Ashley. Callaway is the vice president for institutional advancement at Virginia Peninsula Community College and on the board of directors for the College’s Educational Foundation. In Ashley’s role as the director of development at the College, she is on the foundation’s staff.

After learning more about Bridges and McGill Associates, Callaway and Ashley thought Bridges would be a powerful addition to the foundation and invited him to become a board member.

“I don’t know exactly how that came up,” admitted Bridges, who is in his third year on the board, which consists of volunteers.

While he did not attend a community college, he’s a proud graduate of North Carolina State University, he’s familiar with the benefits they can provide a community. When he was working for McGill in Asheville, North Carolina, the company and other engineering firms developed a relationship with Asheville-Buncombe Technical College.

“I was the representative of McGill Associates with that committee,” he said.

The businesses on that committee and the college explored the possibility of expanding classes that might interest residents and give them other career opportunities.

“We had folks come to work for us that had gone through those programs,” he said. “We were pretty active with the community college there in Asheville.”

From that, Bridges knows many engineering firms no longer make a four-year degree a condition of hire.

“We do have a multitude of those for sure,” he said. “But one of the things that we had been looking for, and even more so now, is we're looking for folks coming out of a community college that have a two-year technology degree.”

That experience is proving beneficial to Virginia Peninsula Community College.

“Danny Bridges understands the role and value of the community college in partnering with local business and industry not only in providing training for the workforce needed today, but also in identifying emerging workforce trends to prepare the workforce of tomorrow,” Callaway said.

The educational foundation was established in 1979. In part, it works with local businesses to support students and faculty, sometimes through internships, and to develop new courses and programs. It also funds more than 50 scholarships every year.

Bridges said the foundation board is a great way for people of various backgrounds and experiences to get involved with the College.

“I think the foundation board offers another area of broader participation and even a broader perspective,” he said of the 15-member committee.

Ashley said that insight is important.

“He has knowledge of the community college benefits for our students and community especially as an employer hiring today,” she said.

Not being an alum of the College hasn’t negatively impacted his influence on the board. In fact, he thinks it’s an added benefit when those with little or no previous affiliation to the College serve on the educational foundation.

“The message that I would hope gets carried over here is here's someone that actually attended a four-year university and yet they’re sitting at the table, supporting a local community college, in a whole different area,” he said. “They’re telling us is that it’s important to the community.”

He and others with a business perspective are showing the benefits of being associated with a community college.

“It is important to the industries that work here, that have offices here, that are looking for future employees,” he said.

Callaway and Ashley said Bridges is more than a board member. He’s a friend of the College, and to all of those associated with it.

“We are fortunate to have his experience and service on the Board of Directors for the Foundation,” Callaway said, “and the College’s engineering programs and students have benefited from his vision and direction.”

It all started from his vision to be more involved with the community.