Young Professionals

The Chamber is committed to attracting and retaining talented, educated, ambitious young professionals in our community. 

Our Young Professionals group offers networking events that are designed to introduce our young professionals to other young professionals in the community while also presenting many of the great assets in our region.  We plan great events and networking activities that are open to all young professionals who are in the earlier stages of their careers.

The Young Professionals also offer opportunities for professional development and community engagement.

PACE Awards

Four young professionals were honored for their outstanding professional and community contributions at the Danville Pittsylvania County Chamber of Commerce’s annual awards dinner on Monday, May 8. The PACE (Professional and Community Engagement) Awards were presented to exceptional young professionals who have made significant contributions to our region through professional achievements as well as through community/volunteer service. 

Recipients of the awards were Leslie Barksdale, Rachel Covington, David Hawker, and Phillip Hayes, Jr.  This is the fifth year that the Chamber has recognized outstanding young professionals in our region.

Nominations were solicited from the community for young professionals who are 25 to 40 years old and either reside or work in Danville or Pittsylvania County.

Criteria for the award included at least three years of professional work experience, demonstrated leadership within their profession, and contributions to this region through volunteer/community activities.

Leslie Barksdale

Leslie Barksdale is a Graduate Engineer in the Municipal Engineering Department for Dewberry, where she is involved in the design and implementation of water and wastewater systems. Originally from Pittsburgh, PA, Barksdale moved to Danville after graduating from Virginia Tech in May 2014.  She received her 200 hour yoga teaching certification in June 2016 from Hot Asana Yoga University in Danville, and now teaches at Hot Asana and the Danville Family YMCA.

Barksdale has a passion for giving back to the community with progressive and positive intentions. She is the chairwoman of the Danville Area Crop Walk which fights to end hunger both locally and around the world, a member of the Bright Leaf Brew Fest Board, a member of the Junior Wednesday Club, a co-leader of the Mount Vernon High School Youth Group, and a member of the Mount Vernon Handbell Choir.  She was also a graduate of Leadership Southside in 2016.

Outside of work, you can find her teaching or practicing yoga, running along the Riverwalk or Anglers Park trails, eating at a local River District restaurant, or relaxing at home in the River District Lofts. Barksdale shares that Danville has welcomed her with open arms and has provided so much opportunity to thrive as a college graduate starting her career, which she is very thankful for every day.

Rachel Covington

A native of Danville, Rachel Covington serves as the Assistant Director of Community Engagement at Averett University. Before joining the Averett family, she served as a Fellow for two years with Danville Regional Foundation promoting service-learning and civic engagement among the younger generations.

A magna cum laude graduate of the University of Mary Washington, Covington holds a degree in Political Science and Spanish. She has also earned her TEFL Certification and Duke University’s Certificate of Nonprofit Management. In addition, Covington is a graduate of Leadership Southside and the ACE Women’s Network Senior Leadership Seminar.

Covington believes that engaging in the community should be the norm, not the exception. To that end, she currently serves on the River District Association advisory council, the Danville Science Center board, the Festival in the Park board, and the Southside Area Tennis Association board. She is also a Middle Border Forward Fellow and volunteers as a big with Big Brothers Big Sisters.

David Hawker

David Hawker is a Danville native and a 2001 graduate of George Washington High School. He received an associate degree from Danville Community College in 2003 before transferring to Radford University, where he graduated in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in Business Management. Upon graduation, he returned to Danville where he worked as a general manager for Daly 7, Inc. until 2013. He has since been employed by Virginia Bank and Trust Company as manager of their Mt. Hermon branch.

Hawker is a member of the Board of Directors and past treasurer for Boys and Girls Club of the Greater Danville Area. He also serves on the finance committee for Sacred Heart Catholic School.

Hawker continues to share his passion for sports with area youth by volunteering his time coaching for Danville Little League, Danville Soccer Academy, and Danville Blast Travel Soccer.

He and his wife Katie, are proud parents of their two children, Jadon and Isabella.

Phillip Hayes, Jr.

Phillip Hayes Jr. is a native of Danville and is currently a Computer Science Engineer at Noblis Center for Applied High Performance Computing. At Noblis, his work involves debugging and modifying software applications, data management and storage, data information security and managing technical Standard Operations of Procedures documentations looking for the best solution for complex problems.

Hayes was a student in the Piedmont Governors School for Math, Science and Technology and the Technology Studies Academy where he graduated from George Washington High School in 2004. His academic involvement at GW made him pursue his dual Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science and Mathematics at Norfolk State University, his Masters of Science in Computer Science from Purdue University, and his Masters of Business Administration at Averett University.

Hayes is a member of Danville Rotary After Hours, Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc., River District Association Board Member, River District Festival Board Member, The Community Foundation Board Member, Leadership Connections, Young Professionals of Danville and Pittsylvania County, Middle Border Forward Fellow, Board of Trustees at his local church and basketball coach at the Danville Parks and Recreation City League.

 Meet Up Mondays

Join us on "Meet Up Monday," a networking event which will be held on the first Monday of each month from 5:30 - 7:00 p.m. at 2 Witches Winery & Brewing Co. (209 Trade Street, Danville).  Join other professionals who are in the early to mid-stages of their professional careers for social interaction, networking, idea exchanges, and fun.

While there is no cost to attend (cash bar), reservations are requested and can be made online, by calling 434-836-6990, or by emailing chamber@dpchamber.org.