All In NC with Dan Gerlach

Talent management and development is the theme of this month’s Golden LEAF News. The Foundation has long invested in various strategies to build the knowledge, talent, and skills of North Carolina’s people, for that is the secret sauce for successful economic transition and development.

Mark Sorrells meets with graduates of Hoke Trade Center at its dedication in July 2015.

Dr. Mark Sorrells has been the heart and soul of Golden LEAF’s work in this regard for almost all of its history. But now Mark, our longtime Senior Vice President, will be departing at the end of the year to join my friend Dr. Larry Keen and the team at Fayetteville Technical Community College (FTCC) as Senior Vice President of Academic and Student Services. FTCC is the third largest college in the North Carolina system, and it is more than fortunate to have Mark join their number and help move that great institution forward.

When North Carolina envisioned biotechnology as a critical sector at the beginning of this century, it was Mark who led staff efforts to evaluate and support world-class training facility at NC State, a research facility at NC Central, and a network of strategically placed community colleges to provide comprehensive support to the industry, resulting in thousands of jobs and millions in capital investment.

When Dr. Jim Goodnight, the cofounder of SAS, challenged us to invest in digital learning well before it was cool to do so, it was Mark who led the efforts to begin it, to learn from it, and to guide its expansion across rural North Carolina.

Mark Sorrells cuts the ribbon on the welding training center expansion at the College of the Albemarle in February 2015.

When the Great Recession came, and jobs were scarce, it was Mark who developed a strategy for Golden LEAF to support equipment and personnel for community colleges to use to put people back to work quickly in the jobs that were available.

When the aerospace industry called workforce its number one challenge, it was Mark who designed ways to evaluate where the need was great and to encourage collaboration across education agencies to meet demand and reduce the concern of our companies.

And when we come today, to a time when jobs available outnumber people ready to work, Mark is plowing to the end of the row with Golden LEAF colleagues to meet that challenge.

All of this is a remarkable record.  But it is not what is most important about Mark.   He is a man of great faith, of devotion to his family, of passion for the mountains from which he came, and of hunger to help people in rural communities to have the opportunity he had and took advantage of to become well-educated and successful.

Mark Sorrells attends the check presentation for North Carolina Central University’s BRITE rural internship program with Board member Thomas Stith and Program Officer Miranda Dalton in August 2018.

Mark and I are strong-willed and proud men, so we have had differences. But I have learned from those differences, and I – and Golden LEAF – are better for it.

Early in our relationship, Mark showed me a picture of his grandfather, a man he called his role model. I know with every confidence that his grandfather is looking down with great pride and joy at all his grandson has done for himself, his family, his community and his state.

Be well, Dr. Sorrells. Go with God, Mark.

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