Chamber of Commerce announces speakers for annual dinner

Dr. Jerome Gilbert
Dr. Jerome Gilbert
Cathey Sawyer
Cathey Sawyer

The Greater Greenbrier Chamber of Commerce will hold its Annual Dinner on Tuesday, Mar. 15, at The Greenbrier Hotel. Business Leader of the Year for 2016 honoree will be Cathey Sawyer, artistic director for the Greenbrier Valley Theatre. The Chamber’s guest speaker for the event will be Marshall University President Dr. Jerome A. Gilbert. Tickets for the event will be $89 per ticket, and main sponsorship opportunities are still available. Invitations for the dinner will be sent in the mail.

Sawyer is in her 25th season as producing artistic director of Greenbrier Valley Theatre. She is a member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society and has directed over 200 plays professionally including several premiere productions.

Before moving to West Virginia, she held associate director posts and was a resident actor for Arkansas Repertory Theatre in Little Rock, AR, New Stage Theatre in Jackson, MS, and American Stage Theatre in St. Petersburg, FL, and was the Resident Director for Playhouse on the Square in Memphis, TN. She directed the premiere of “Glory Girls” for Abingdon Theatre Company in NYC. She holds a Master of Arts degree in English and a Master of Fine Arts in Directing. Also an Equity Actor, she has worked on stage and in film and television.

Favorite roles include Amanda in “The Glass Menagerie,” Jesse in “’Night, Mother,” opposite Academy Award winner Mercedes McCambridge, Desiree in “A Little Night Music,” Titania in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” and Louise in “Always, Patsy Cline.”

Sawyer is the vocalist for the WV Jazz Orchestra and for the Washington Street Strutters. She is a recipient of the Governor’s Award for Artistic Excellence and the Order of Arts & Historical Letters Recognition from the West Virginia Division of Culture & History. She was 2009’s Business Leader of the Year and currently serves on the Board of the Greenbrier Valley Chamber of Commerce. In 2014, she received the Governor’s Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts.

Dr. Jerome A. Gilbert was named the 37th president of Marshall University on Oct. 20, 2015. He assumed the presidency in January 2016.

A Mississippi native with a background in biomedical engineering, Gilbert previously served for nearly six years as provost and executive vice president of Mississippi State University. Before that, he was the university’s associate provost and associate vice president for academic affairs for six years. Earlier roles include head of the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering and coordinator for the biomedical engineering graduate program in the Bagley College of Engineering.

Gilbert attained the rank of professor in 1993 after joining the Mississippi State faculty in 1988 as associate professor. From 1989-2005, he also served as adjunct clinical assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery (research) for the University of Mississippi Medical Center. He served for 10 years as a research affiliate with the Institute of Neurocognitive Science and Technology at Mississippi State, and was among the first class of Mississippi State’s honors faculty in the Shackouls Honors College.

Gilbert was a graduate assistant at Duke University and held previous academic appointments at North Carolina State University and University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill) School of Medicine. In 2014, he was elected to the inaugural board of directors of the Association of Chief Academic Officers. A member of the College of Fellows of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, he also was inducted in the inaugural class of Fellows of the Institute of Biological Engineering, an organization for which he served as president in 2005.

He has a bachelor’s degree in biological engineering from Mississippi State and a doctorate in biomedical engineering from Duke.

Gilbert and his wife Leigh are the parents of three grown children, Caroline, Sallie and Peter. They have one granddaughter, Eliza.

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