McDowell Technical Community College announced new administrative appointments today that became effective on June 1, 2022 as part of a strategic realignment to place greater emphasis on promoting workforce development, which is central to the college’s mission, values and goals and its vision to “Learn and Grow.” Two of those appointments were promotions of long-time college employees, while the other resulted in a new administrator who is a native of McDowell County.
- Stacy Buff, Associate Vice-President of Workforce Development.
- Valerie Dobson, Dean of Curriculum Programs.
- Brandon Hensley, Associate Dean of Career and Technical Education.
“We are excited to welcome Stacy, Valerie and Brandon to these new roles and are excited about the leadership, vision and expertise they will bring to our administration,” said Dr. Brian S. Merritt, MTCC President. “Collectively, they bring over 45 years of commitment and results-oriented service to the North Carolina Community College System and the individuals, businesses and community we serve. Their appointments represent a renewed laser-focus on workforce development.”
In his new role as Associate Vice-President of Workforce Development, Buff will have primary responsibility for all targeted aspects of Workforce Education, including:
- Industry Engagement and External Relations
- The McDowell Apprenticeship Program (MAP), inclusive of all work-based learning opportunities
- Workforce & Continuing Education programs
- Fast-Track Career Training Academies (e.g. Plumbing Level I, Intro to Residential Electricity, etc.)
- Emergency Medical Science Training
- Fire and Rescue Training
- Basic Law Enforcement Training
- Small Business Center
- College and Career Readiness and Human Resources Development
- Adult Basic Education and Adult Secondary Education
From 1993 until 2011, Buff held progressively responsible positions in law enforcement in Western North Carolina and throughout the state, working with Morganton Department of Public Safety, Burke County Sheriff’s Office, NC State Attorney General’s Office and the NC Division of Motor Vehicles: License and Theft Bureau. During that time, Buff also held teaching appointments at both McDowell Technical Community College and Western Piedmont Community College in Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Training programs.
In 2011, Buff was named the Program Director/Administrator of Law Enforcement Training and Emergency Management Training at McDowell Tech, a position he held until 2018 when he was named Dean of Career and Technical Education, a position he held until his current appointment.
Professionally, Buff has served on a number of boards and professional associations over the years, including:
- North Carolina Community College Adult Educators Association—Board of Directors, President Elect, and upcoming, President (2023-2024).
- NC Private Protective Services Board—a NC Senate Appointment—Screening Committee Chair
- National Association of Student Personnel Administrators—Member
- McDowell County Workforce Pipeline—Chair
- Region C Workforce Board—Member
- McDowell Chamber of Commerce—Board of Directors, Executive Officer, Vice-Chair
- Workforce Development Leadership Committee, NC Department of Community Colleges
- National Association of Workforce Development Professionals—Member
- Association of Career and Technical Educators—Member
- NC Association for Career and Technical Education—Member
- Freedom Life Ministries—Board of Directors
- NC Community College System Office—Performance Measures Review Committee
- Rotary International of Marion—Member
Buff holds an Associate Degree in Applied Science from Western Piedmont Community College (1993), a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from Lees McCrae College (1999), a Master’s Degree in Higher Education, University and College Leadership from Appalachian State University (2018), and an Educational Specialist Degree, University and College Leadership from Appalachian State University (2020). He anticipates completing his Doctor of Education Degree in Educational Leadership from Appalachian State University in 2023.
In her new role as Dean of Curriculum Programs, Dobson will supervise two associate deans, one with primary responsibility for curriculums in Business and College Transfer, and one with responsibility for curriculum programs in Career and Technical Education. Collectively, Dobson and the two associate deans will be responsible for all curriculum programs offered at the college, ranging from Health Sciences, Cosmetology and Welding, to Business Administration and Computer Integrated Machining, among others.
Dobson began teaching at McDowell Tech in 2001 as a faculty member in Health Information Technology and was named Program Director/Coordinator of Health Information Technology in 2005, a role she held until her current appointment. In addition, since 2005, she has been Department Chair for all Health Science Programs.
In addition to her academic and administrative positions, Dobson has served on a number of college-wide committees, including:
- Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP)—Lead for SACS-COC reaffirmation, 2008-2012
- HIT Program Director’s Curriculum Improvement Project
- College-wide Curriculum Review Committee
- College-wide Wellness Committee—Chair
- Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force—Chair
- College-wide Policy Committee
In 2014, Dobson was instrumental in the college’s receipt of a $900,000 grant from the US Health Resources and Services Administration and served as Project Director to train rural health information technology and medical records professionals to enter the workforce. Professionally, Dobson has served on the Commission on Accreditation of Health Informatics and Information Management (CAHIIM), Health Information Management Accreditation Council (HIMAC), and has been a member of several professional boards, including:
NC Health Information Management Association (NCHIMA)—
- President, Director and Education Chair
- NCHIMA Vice-President, Annual Meeting Program Chair
- NCHIMA Secretary
- NCHIMA Publications Chair
- Western Foothills Region Coordinator and Coordinator-Elect
- Annual Meeting Program Committee Member
Florida Health Information Management Association (FHIMA)
- Executive Director, Education Initiatives
McDowell County Health Coalition
- Board Member
- Finance Committee
- Tobacco Workgroup Chair
- Wellness Where You Are Workgroup Chair
- Annual Meeting Planning Committee
- Emeritus Board Member
McDowell County Volunteer Center Board
- Board of Directors
- Board Vice-Chair
- Governor’s Volunteer of the Year Service Awards Committee
- Awards and Nominating Committee Chair
Dobson has also spoken at various professional association meetings over the years, including:
- Commission on Accreditation of Health Informatics and Information Management, Summit on Higher Education
- American Health Information Management Association, Curricular Development and Revision
- NC Health Information Management Association, Coding Updates, Leadership and Advocacy as well a presenting research on the Multi-Generational Workforce
Dobson holds an Associate of Arts Degree/College Transfer from McDowell Technical Community College (1998), a Bachelor of Science Degree in Health Information Management/Administration from Western Carolina University (2000), a Master’s in Health Science, Health Science, Adult Education and Program Evaluation from Western Carolina University (2007), an Educational Specialist Degree, Higher Education and Community College Leadership from Appalachian State University (2021), and anticipates completing her Ed.D. from NC State University in Community College Leadership in 2025.
In his new role as Associate Dean of Career and Technical Education, Hensley will be responsible for a variety of curriculum programs in vocational areas such as Heating, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Technology; Welding; Automotive Systems Technology; Electrical Systems Technology; Mechatronics; Engineering Technology and Applied Science, among others. He will also work with Human Services Programs, like Early Childhood Education, and will be a key player in the enhanced McDowell Apprenticeship Program and work-based learning efforts.
An engineer by training and experience, Hensley began his full-time professional career as a Software Test Engineer with Integrated Industrial Information of Raleigh, NC in 2002. In 2004, he moved to Morganton, NC, where he became Lead Design Engineer and Engineering Manager with Toner Machining Technologies, a role he held until 2010 when he became Program Coordinator of Computer Integrated Machining at Western Piedmont Community College.
In 2016, Hensley was named Department Head of Engineering Technologies at Western Piedmont. In 2019, he moved to Catawba Valley Community College where he became Senior Project Manager for Technical Programs. In his latest role before accepting his current position at McDowell Tech, Hensley was Associate Dean of Engineering and Construction Technologies.
Hensley is a member of a number of professional organizations, including:
- The Order of the Engineer
- Pi Tau Sigma Honorary Mechanical Engineering Fraternity
- National Society of Collegiate Scholars
- Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society
In addition, he has a number of professional certifications, including:
- Quality Matters APPQMR (2020)
- NIMS Professional Inspector Credential
- NC3 Starrett / Snap-On PMI Certification
- NIMS Certificate of Special Merit
- Lean Six Sigma Greenbelt (WPCC 2016)
- Certified SolidWorks Professional
- North Carolina Board of Engineers and Land Surveyors Certificate of Engineering Intern
- Multiple third-party trainings and credentials
His leadership experience includes:
- Senior Project Manager for Technical Programs (2019- 2021)
- Department Head of Engineering (2016-2019)
- 2019 Leadership Burke (2019)
- WPCC Leadership Academy (2018)
- WPCC PTK Advisor (2011-2017)
- NCSU Department Chair’s Institute (2016)
- WPCC Certified Six Sigma Greenbelt (2016)
- WPCC Lifelong Learning Program (2014 Level 1)
- Institute on Best Practices in Institutional Effectiveness; Towson, Maryland
- Lead Design Engineer (2005-2008)
- Lead Test Engineer (2003)
- Lab Instructor for CSC 112L Fortran lab, N.C. State University, Raleigh, NC (1999-2001 School Term)
- Company Commanding Officer for McDowell High NJROTC, McDowell High School, Marion, NC (1997-1998)
- Vice President of National Crisis Simulation, National Youth Leadership Forum on Defense, Intelligence, and Diplomacy (NYLF-DID), Washington D.C. (1998)
Hensley holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Technology Education, Industrial Technology Concentration with a minor in Graphic Communications from NC State University (2003), a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering from NC State University (2003), a Master of Science in Technology Systems from East Carolina University (2008), and anticipates receiving his Doctor of Education in Community College Leadership from NC State University in 2025.
Hensley is returning home to work in McDowell County where he was raised and graduated from McDowell High School.
“These appointments reaffirm our commitment to promoting workforce development throughout our region. Innovative leadership in these new, restructured roles will help us focus on student learning, completion of quality credentials, college transfer and/or direct employment into high-demand, well-paying careers,” said Merritt, MTCC President.