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USAF Brigadier General Headlines Virginia Job One Event in Roanoke

April 06 2011

Business execs hear about link between school readiness, workforce development and national security

Roanoke, VA (April 7, 2011) – Almost 100 local business leaders in greater Roanoke learned that investing in quality early childhood development is not only vital to growing a smarter workforce, it’s a matter of national security. So said Brigadier General John W. Douglass, U.S. Air Force (ret.) at a breakfast meeting on April 7 at the Hotel Roanoke.

The meeting was sponsored by Smart Beginnings Greater Roanoke with support from the Partnership for America’s Economic Success, Verizon and Virginia Job One, an initiative of the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation.

Prior to the keynote address by General Douglass, attendees were welcomed by Dr. Robert Sandal, President of Virginia Western Community College and Chair of the Steering Committee for Smart Beginnings Greater Roanoke. Other speakers on the agenda included Paul Hirschbiel, President of Eden Capital in Virginia Beach and Chair of Virginia Job One, and Scott Hippert, President of the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation.

In his keynote address, General Douglass shared his unique perspective regarding the connection between school readiness, workforce development and future military readiness. Now President and Chief Executive Officer of The Douglass Aerospace Group, LLC., General Douglass is a board member of the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation, and a member of Mission: Readiness, a national security organization made up of over 200 retired generals and admirals.

He competed 28 years of U.S. Air Force service and retired as a brigadier general in 1992. His numerous Air Force assignments included service as the deputy U.S. military representative to NATO as well as director of plans and policy and director of science and technology in the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force.

In his remarks, General Douglass noted that, according to Defense Department estimates, 75 percent of Americans ages 17-24 are unable to join the military, because they are physically unfit, have a criminal record or do poorly in school. The general noted recent research by the Education Trust that shows one in four Virginia high school graduates who seek to join the military are unable to do so because of low scores on the military’s basic exam for math, literacy and problem solving.

“When someone like General Douglass is concerned about the future of our country’s national security, then we must do everything possible to provide young children with meaningful early childhood experiences so they’ll do well in school and be eligible to serve in the military if they choose that career,” said Scott Hippert. “The preschool years are truly the launching pad to a productive workforce, as well as a skilled military to keep our nation safe.”

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"The impact of our community's collective efforts around school readiness through Smart Beginnings has captured the attention of many people around the world. It demonstrates that positive changes can happen when we are focused, and collect quality data for the same outcomes in a coordinated and collaborative manner."


 Frank Rogan, United Way of Roanoke Valley president & CEO

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The United Way of Roanoke Valley serves as the fiscal agent for Smart Beginnings Greater Roanoke.

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