Strategic Partnerships Make Good Business Sense

Juanita Murphy

Successful companies drive local economies and, likewise, a competitive workforce can sustain the success of the company. Forsyth Tech has a history of working with businesses to develop skilled employees, enhance contract training programs for staff, and to identify and implement assessment tools for pre-screening potential job candidates.

In fact, Forsyth Tech was founded in 1960 through a partnership with R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company now Reynolds American, Inc. (RAI). When R.J. Reynolds needed more skill development for their employees, the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Industrial Education Center was formed, which later became Forsyth Tech.

Through the years, as changing technology has required more advanced skills, Forsyth Tech has continued to provide opportunities at RAI for training, assessing, and screening employees. Through the Economic and Workforce Development Division (EWD) of Forsyth Tech, one of the tools offered to local businesses is a unique employment assessment system called WorkKeys®. These assessments help employers determine the potential success of an employee for a specific job and to reduce turnover.
“Working first with Reynolds American, Inc., we developed a process for pre-screening and a model for workforce assessment using WorkKeys® from ACT Workforce Solutions,” said Juanita Murphy, career readiness certificate coordinator with Forsyth Tech. “The testing removes the guesswork to determine an applicant’s skills using a variety of aptitude tests.”

Barbara CarterThe testing is now being offered to additional companies throughout Forsyth and Stokes counties. Over the past eight years, Murphy has coordinated scheduling and testing for Herbalife; Reynolds American, Inc.; Sonoco; Siemens; Triumph; Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools; and Wieland, among others, to help them meet their hiring goals.

Students and Alumni Pay it Forward

a group of women outside of Senior Sevices

Human Services is a specialized, yet growing career field offering entry-level positions in a variety of roles. From mental and social services to agencies serving older adults, the prerequisites for this career are compassion and the willingness to serve others.

Forsyth Technical Community College offers degrees and certificates in both Human Services, along with a Human Services/Gerontology concentration.

“Forsyth Technical Community College is one of only five community colleges in North Carolina that offer a degree in Gerontology,” said Betsey Zook, program coordinator of human services technology. “The field is growing as the population ages and employees are needed.”

Students in both these fields are required to complete internships in non-profit agencies. This semester, there are three agencies where Forsyth Tech interns pair up with Forsyth Tech alumni, who now work as employees at Senior Services, Inc., The Bethesda Center for the Homeless, and The Enrichment Center.

Senior Services, Inc. provides a variety of services for seniors from lunch programs, Meals-On-Wheels, personal care, information and referrals, and case management, to supervised care at the Elizabeth and Tab Williams Adult Day Center. Forsyth Tech alumni, Dorothy Thomas and Yveline Buford, are employees at Senior Services and are responsible for coordinating activities during the three-day-a-week lunch programs. Rudine Holmes and Lakesha Barley are Forsyth Tech student interns at these sites.

Thomas is located at the Sprague Street Community Center and mentors Holmes, while Buford is located at the Brown and Douglas Recreation Center and mentors Barley.

”I want to write a book on how to tap into these seniors’ passions and talents,” said Thomas. “To me, they are remarkable with so much to share. I love working with the seniors.”

All four women had previous careers and returned to school at Forsyth Tech, knowing they were committed to work with senior adults through geriatric services.

The lunch programs are an opportunity for seniors to get out of their homes, have lunch, and socialize. “We provide activities before lunch, and the seniors love the games — especially Bingo,” said Buford.

As the seniors are leaving, the staff said they see positive changes on the participants’ faces, and the seniors have a renewed sense of purpose.

“You can see that the seniors care about each other when they come to lunch,” said Barley. “They have become like a family.”

The Bethesda Center for the Homeless operates a day shelter and an emergency overnight shelter for homeless men and women in Winston-Salem. Its mission, to “create opportunities through emergency and supportive services,” gives hope to countless men and women annually as moving from homelessness to housing becomes a reality.

Four student interns work with three graduates of Forsyth Tech. Interns Tanner Bowden, Angela Gaskin, Michael Hoots,

New Dean of College and Career Readiness

Sydney Richardson

Sydney Richardson has joined Forsyth Tech as the dean of College and Career Readiness (CCR). As part of the Economic and Workforce Development Division, College and Career Readiness serves approximately 2,900 students who take Adult Basic Education classes, Adult High School courses, and English as a Second Language courses, leading them to either additional academic pursuits or the workforce.

Prior to joining Forsyth Tech, Richardson worked at Salem College as Director of the Writing Center, Assistant Professor of Education, and Dean of Adult Education.

Richardson holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, a master’s degree in English and African American literature from North Carolina Agriculture and Technical University, and a doctorate of philosophy in educational studies with a specialization in cultural studies and women and gender studies from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

“My vision for CCR is to help the students we serve reach their next level of success by providing career and academic pathways, and connecting with community organizations to assist in this effort,” said Richardson.

New Executive Director for the Foundation and Chief Development Officer

Bill Green

Bill Green joins Forsyth Tech as the new Executive Director for the Forsyth Tech Foundation and the College’s Chief Development Officer.

In his new role, Green will lead the Foundation in building relationships in the community to secure investments for student scholarships, professional development grants, and technology purchases.

“I’m thrilled to be at this remarkable institution to help continue the tradition of support for our students  and faculty provided by the Forsyth Tech Foundation,”said Green.

Green comes to Forsyth Tech following a distinguished career in banking. Most recently, he worked as the Winston-Salem City Executive with High Point Bank & Trust until the time of its merger with Bank of North Carolina, in late 2016.

A native of Columbia, S.C., Green is a graduate of both Davidson College and the Kenan Flagler School of  Business at UNC-Chapel Hill. He completed Leadership Winston-Salem’s flagship program in 1996.

Green’s volunteer activities have included board leadership positions at The Centers for Exceptional Children, Habitat for Humanity of Forsyth County, and the University of North Carolina School of the Arts Foundation. He currently serves on the Program Committee for Financial Pathways of the Piedmont.

Pathways to Possibilities

Early Childhood Lab

Pathways to Possibilities exemplifies what is achievable when the community supports the mission and values of one of its most respected resources, Forsyth Technical Community College. In its nearly 60- year history, the college has been the foundation for education and workforce development in Forsyth and Stokes counties.

Forsyth Tech has faced what many other community colleges face: the growing need for improvement in technology and institutional advancement to keep up with changes needed to educate the workforce of the future, while resources decrease. Forsyth Tech recognized the necessity to raise funds to offset financial needs.

Over the past three years, the Forsyth Tech Foundation has been immersed in an $18 million capital campaign to improve student success and workforce innovation.

Forsyth Tech is pleased to announce we achieved that and more, with pledges totaling $20,001,600, or 111% of our goal.

Pathways to Possibilities has had an impact on every department and division of the college. So far, donations from the campaign.

“We have been overwhelmed by the generous support of our partners in the health care community,” Dean of Health Technologies, Linda Latham said. “Through our Capital Campaign, we were able to update technology in our nursing and allied health labs so that we can better prepare the employees of tomorrow. We can now simulate so many scenarios that will be encountered in the ‘real world’ of health care today.

“While our students spend a great number of hours in the clinical setting, it is critical for health care programs like ours to have reliable, relatable technology in the classrooms,” said John Sherman, program coordinator for respiratory therapy. “We have always emphasized a ‘practicing like you play’ approach to learning; we try and simulate a real patient care experience.”

Current technology in the classroom provides a non-pressure learning environment for the students, making them more confident in applying their clinical knowledge and skills with patients.

“Our virtual treatment simulator enables us to explain complex theoretical concepts and principles in a highly visual environment,” said Chris Gibson, program coordinator for radiation therapy.

Virtual reality is also a game changer in the architecture and interior design department.

“New equipment purchased in Architecture and Design enables students to walk virtually through their architectural designs and to be fully immersed in the experience of their creations,” said Todd Shoaf, program coordinator, architecture. “Donations from the campaign also added a certificate program entitled 3D Scanning and Building Information Modeling. This certificate is geared toward those completing our associate degrees with the goal of keeping them ‘tooled’ for the future. These graduates will offer employers advanced technology skills, which will help business growth in architecture.”

One of the departments that was able to add programs and certifications through the funding of the campaign was the Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning program.

“In the future, students will receive certifications from Trane in areas such as business management, airflow, refrigeration diagnostics, variable speed motors, and air-to-air heat pumps,” said Dwight Cornelison, program coordinator. “We are working on becoming a National Trane Center of Excellence through the NC3 Coalition of Certification Centers.”

Through a generous campaign donation from V.B Lougee, the Early Childhood Lab School was renamed the Carol L. Danforth Early Childhood Lab School in honor of his daughter.

“Thanks to a generous gift from Mr. Lougee, the Early Childhood Lab School will become licensed, which will offer opportunities for the facility to gain greater funding to help students and parents with financial assistance when needed,” said Karatha Scott, coordinator, Carol L. Danforth Early Childhood Lab School.

Another department benefitting from the generous donations from the campaign is the Center for Advanced Manufacturing (CAM). As manufacturing has evolved over the years, so have the educational needs for the workforce. Forsyth Tech has worked with our manufacturing industry partners in advancing our manufacturing programs and in keeping pace with industry trends.

The CAM building was renovated, adding high-end equipment, creating an additive manufacturing lab, adding robotic welding, and expanding computer numerical control (CNC) machines.

“The donations also strengthened our relationships with industry partners, creating a hub of learning for students and businesses,” said David Dinkins, department chair for advanced manufacturing. “Forsyth Tech is the only community college in the region designated as a ‘Superlab’ by Statasys, the 3-D printer manufacturer.”

The funding also made it possible for the Center for Advanced Manufacturing to hire a student technician, Chris Price, to run the daily operation and maintenance of the additive manufacturing lab.

Price said, “Working in the lab helps me affirm I made the right career choice. I feel like I’m getting more experience and can apply what I’m learning as a student.”

The impact of Pathways to Possibilities Capital Campaign will have far-reaching effects for years to come. We now have the opportunity to encourage and inspire many more students and faculty/staff with generous donations from this campaign. There is no one path that fits every student, and we are challenged to offer students who desire a chance to achieve their educational goals and dreams. Many would not have the opportunity to earn a degree or further their education without scholarships or financial assistance. Several work one or two jobs, and have families, yet are committed to earning a degree and improving their lives. It is through these gifts that donors help give back to the students, who, in turn, give back to the community. Imagine how far students can go when they see the clear path and possibilities.

Strickland Gift to Support Students through New Career Center

The Stricklands

The Pathways to Possibilities gift from longtime Winston-Salem residents Robert and Elizabeth Strickland has already changed the landscape at Forsyth Tech, and will soon be improving the lives of our students as they prepare to head into the workplace. The Stricklands’ gift of $2.8 million is the largest ever received by the college from individual donors; and at their request, it will support the development of the college’s Career Center, including an endowed position of Career Center director. The Center will be located in the former Oak Grove building on the school’s Silas Creek Parkway campus,  where new signage was recently installed to reflect its renaming by the college Trustees as the Robert L. Strickland Center.

“The additional leadership position for the Career Center will help coordinate resources for our students, and there will be a new physical location in a renovated space along with new software and other services,” said Forsyth Tech President Gary Green. “While the knowledge and skills students acquire at Forsyth Tech make them qualified to work in their chosen field, their degree doesn’t automatically get that student a job. Forsyth Tech offers help with job search skills, such as resume writing and interviewing, and connecting them with potential employers. Bringing it all together in one place, and having a center director, will help students take full advantage of these and expanded services.”

“We are extremely grateful for the generosity of the Stricklands and their commitment to advancing the life success of our students,” said Bill Green, executive director of the Forsyth Tech Foundation and chief development officer for the college. “This gift is a long-term investment that will transform lives. It establishes the first endowed position at the college, and brings much-needed resources and capabilities to the critical work of our career services.”

Bob Strickland served as Chairman of the Board of Lowe’s Companies, Inc. (Lowe’s Home Improvement)  and retired in 1998 after 41 years of service. He joined Lowe’s in 1957 as its seventh employee.

He also served on the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, as Vice Chairman of Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Corporation, as a Director with Hannaford Brothers, and as a Director with T. Rowe Price. Strickland has long been an advocate for education. He served in the N.C. General Assembly from 1961-1963 and was a founding trustee at Wilkes Community College in 1965. Strickland also served on the board of trustees at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill from 1987 – 1995.

“Betty and I have both long believed that you don’t go to college simply to learn how to make a living – you go to college to learn how to live,” said Bob Strickland. “It is our fondest hope that this new career center will be able to give our community’s students an extra boost of the guidance, information, and mentoring wisdom they’ll need to propel their Forsyth Tech education into exciting and productive careers – and thereby, we hope happy and fulfilling lives for themselves and their families. The gift reflects our desire to encourage others. As William Jennings Bryan writes, ‘destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a choice. It is not a thing to be waited for; it is a thing to be achieved.’”

“Bob and Betty Strickland have long been supporters and advocates for community college student success, and at Forsyth Tech that means connecting students with career opportunities,” Gary Green said. “Through their generosity, the College will put students on the path to a successful career and a secure economic future.”

New Board Members 2017-2018

Beth BaldwinBeth Baldwin is active as Philanthropy Committee Chair of the Women’s Council of Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center Foundation, a member of the Emma Bahnson Service League, the Women’s Fund of Winston-Salem, and as a Community Representative on the Forsyth Tech Nursing Advisory Committee.


Scott CarpenterScott Carpenter is co-founder of Capture Public Relations & Marketing, based in Winston-Salem. A native of Shelby, N.C. and a graduate of Wake Forest University, Carpenter has served on the boards of several nonprofit organizations, including Crosby Scholars, the Children’s Museum of Winston-Salem, and the YMCA of Northwest North Carolina.


John CocklereeceJohn Cocklereece has been practicing law in Winston-Salem since 1979, and is currently a director of Bell Davis & Pitt, PA, where his practice is concentrated in business, tax, and estate planning/administration matters. Cocklereece is also a current member of the Forsyth Tech Community College Board of Trustees.


Charles CorpeningCharles Corpening is a Director for Alex Brown and previously was a trust officer with First Union and Planters National Bank. Corpening’s involvements include St Paul’s Episcopal Church, prior Assistant Scoutmaster for Boy Scout Troop 920, Ravenscroft School, Summit School, Wofford College, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Parents Council.


Edward GriggsEdward Griggs is a Partner on the Private Wealth Team at Womble Bond Dickinson. He is an Elder at First Presbyterian Church, Past President of the Winston-Salem Estate Planning Council, Past Chair of the Estate Planning & Fiduciary Law Section of the North Carolina Bar, Past Chair and Board Member of The Ronald McDonald House of Winston-Salem, Inc., and Member of the Major Gifts Committee of Samaritan Ministries.


Ginger SaltGinger Salt serves as Senior Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer at Piedmont Federal Savings Bank. Prior to joining Piedmont Federal, Salt served in senior marketing roles with First Community Bank, Truliant Federal Credit Union and BB&T. She is active in Crosby Scholars, Winston-Salem Street School, and Stratford Rotary.


Ken WalkerKen Walker is the Winston-Salem facility manager for Progress Rail, a subsidiary of Caterpillar. He is currently a board member of the Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce, Winston-Salem Business, Inc., and an active member of the Kernersville Chamber of Commerce.


Ann WattsAnn Watts is a long-term Forsyth Tech employee, who started as a teacher in the Early Childhood program in 1998 and served as the Director of Stokes County operations for Forsyth Tech from 2006 until her retirement in 2017. She currently serves as Board Chair for New Life Center Child Care of First Baptist Church-Walnut Cove and is a Board Member of the Stokes Partnership for Children.

Gisele Taylor Wells: Improving Design Education

Gisele Taylor Wells

Gisele Taylor Wells, program coordinator for Interior Design, received her National Council for Interior Design Qualification Certification (NCIDQ) in December 2017. The certification is the industry’s standard measure of proficiency in interior design principles and establishes a designer’s commitment to the profession.

Since 2008, Wells has been an instructor at Forsyth Tech, beginning as part time, then moving into the program coordinator and full-time instructor role. She holds her Bachelor of Science Degree in interior Architecture and her Master of Science Degree in Interior Architecture with a concentration in Historic Preservation, both from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

“Earning my certification will help me better prepare students on what design principles and knowledge are expected of excellent interior designers in today’s professional environments,” said Wells. “What is most fulfilling in my role is to find ways to improve design education for today’s students and help them understand they must be above average to succeed in this profession.”

Brent Martin: Stay Focused and Don’t Play Around

Brent Martin

Joining the Air Force had always been his dream. Yet, when he found out in 11th grade that he had diabetes, Brent Martin could not join the military. According to the American Diabetes Association, the military still severely restricts enlistment for people with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. But if you are already serving, you can seek to stay in.

“However, I’ve always liked electronics and machines, and was good at repairing things. So I decided to get my Associate in Electronics Engineering degree,” said Martin.

“In looking at schools, I didn’t want to go to a four year school and take on a lot of debt. So I chose to come to Forsyth Tech.”

His favorite instructor and advisor was Mr. David Rehder. “Mr. Rehder made sure we were registered for the right classes and we knew as much as we needed to know about what the environment will be like on the job.”

Brent has taken six classes every semester except this semester, when he only had three classes to complete. This schedule enabled him to complete his degree in two years while working part time on the weekends.

Through the 15 to Finish program, Forsyth Tech encourages those students who can to take 15 credit hours per semester to graduate on time.

When asked how he manages his schedule, Martin said, “I go to class every day and on time. I’m simply focused on school and don’t fool around.“

Martin didn’t need to join the military to learn discipline and determination.

John Moore: Finding His Purpose

John Moore

John Moore’s route to his current career wasn’t the straightest or most direct, but he feels it was the right one even when life threw him a major curve.

“I moved to Florida in 2009 to attend a motorcycle mechanics institute,” said John. “Two weeks before I was scheduled to start, I was hit head on by a John Moore: drunk driver while riding my motorcycle.” During his hospital stay, he decided Finding His Purpose nursing might be a good career choice. Once he returned to North Carolina, he attended the nursing program at Surry Community College. As a student nurse, he completed a rotation in the oncology unit at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

Thats when I realized, I am very tenderhearted and knew I couldn’t handle being in a hospital every day,” said Moore. “Seeing cancer patients really got to me.”

John reflected on his passion and discovered what he may have known all his life: he enjoyed working on cars.

“I was building hot rods as a kid, so I wish I had decided this earlier,” said Moore. “Once I made this decision, I knew I wanted to open my own shop.”

John completed his Associate in Applied Science in Automotive Systems Technology degree at Forsyth Tech and graduated with honors in May 2016.

In May 2017, John opened Nester’s Automotive in Yadkinvillle.

Together with his father helping out, John offers numerous auto services including mechanics, repairs, and detailing. They also sell used cars when they have the inventory.

“I enjoy giving people straightforward advice when their cars cannot be repaired or if it would be cheaper to buy another car,” said Moore.

He finds it amusing when people call and want him to diagnose problems with their car over the phone. Moore laughs and says, “without seeing the car, thats like telling them the weather outside in a room without windows.”

John’s belief is that honesty is the key to a lasting business, especially in mechanics and auto sales. “People won’t come back if they know you are not being truthful with them,“ said Moore. “I’m counting on repeat customers.”