Business Development Managers
Our business development managers are your one-stop resource, whether you need help recruiting qualified job candidates, disability awareness training, job accommodation solutions or information on Virginia's economic and workforce development.
Dale S. Batten
Dale S. Batten is Deputy Director for Workforce Development for the Division of Rehabilitative Services. Dale had been Central Regional Director for DRS for the past seven years and has been with DARS for 30 years.
In this position, she will have statewide responsibility for leadership, strategic planning and oversight of our business development services - working to integrate current labor market trends with strategic assessment/evaluation services for job candidates with disabilities - as well as the Self-Employment Enterprise program, which helps DRS candidates to establish and operate their own business, and the Vocational Evaluation program.
Dale has been certified as a Workkeys Profiler and has helped the Governor's office develop the Virginia Career Readiness Certificate. She holds a master's degree in vocational rehabilitation counseling and bachelor's degree in rehabilitation services from Virginia Commonwealth University.
LaPearl Smith is the business development manager for the Northern Virginia region, covering DARS' Leesburg, Manassas, Fredericksburg, Alexandria, Manassas and Fairfax offices. LaPearl started with DARS in 1999 as a placement counselor serving Winchester and Leesburg. Prior to DARS, she was a program counselor, deputy director and associate administrator for Tri-County Virginia OIC, a job training and placement program. During this time she developed her passion for employment and workforce services, especially working with those that society sees as "disadvantaged."
LaPearl served on the Board of Directors of the Winchester-Frederick County Chamber of Commerce, is a past member of the Winchester SHRM, Winchester Community Services Council, Shenandoah Valley African-American Professionals and Winchester chapter of Business and Professional Women. In 1997, she was nominated as one of the outstanding women in the Winchester community.
She sees her role as service to others and looks forward to new opportunities as the business development manager in the northern region. She is a graduate of Shenandoah University and has done graduate work at James Madison University and George Washington University.
Nate Mahanes is the business development manager for the Blue Ridge district providing services to the Lynchburg, Charlottesville, Harrisonburg and Fishersville field offices. A native of Lynchburg, Nate is a born collaborator who describes himself as a "realist who enjoys service to others and getting things done."
Nate's variety of employment experiences include construction work while in college, wilderness guiding, directing youth and adult education programs and leading natural resource development projects in South America.
Nate received several accolades in 2015. He was nominated for Lynchburg Business Magazine's "Top 20 Under 40" and elected to the 2015-16 board of directors for the Lynchburg Regional Chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management. In 2014, he received a Virginia Community College System Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Workforce Development.
Peggy Hurley is the newest addition to DARS' business development manager team. She serves as an agency liaison, responsible for building partnerships with local and statewide businesses, workforce development boards, chambers of commerce and economic development and other community organizations. Working in the Southwest region, she will collaborate with DARS' Abingdon, Marion, Norton, Pounding Mill and Wytheville field offices.
Peggy is no stranger to business in the region, having previously worked for the Virginia Employment Commission as a workforce service representative. For DARS, she is your single-source contact for identifying potential job candidates, training needs, job market information or business connections.
A native of Buchanon County, Peggy received her bachelor's degree in business administration from King University in Bristol and is pursuing her master's degree in accounting through Liberty University. She lives in Abingdon.
Beth Groff has worked at DARS since 1998 in various positions including vocational rehabilitation counselor, manager of vocational evaluators, workforce development specialist, assistive technology specialist, manager of the Petersburg field office and now is business development manager for DARS' Danville, Farmville; Petersburg and South Boston offices. Prior to DARS, she worked for employment services organizations including Goodwill of Central Virginia and PARC Services.
As a liaison to the workforce development community and businesses, Beth provides information on job openings and recruitment events and advocates for qualified candidates. She also educates employers about the benefits of diversity in the workplace to include persons with disabilities and helping employers with job accommodations.
The Chester resident is active with several Chambers of Commerce and has served on several Workforce Investment Boards.
With more than 20 years experience in the human services field, Melissa Edmonds has a wealth of knowledge in workforce development. Known as Missie, she joined DARS in May 2005 as a job developer. She quickly started building business relationships in the Hampton Roads region.
Missie worked for more than 15 years for Goodwill Industries of Hampton Roads as vice president of workforce development, providing a foundation in both human resources and workforce development.
Cari Fessler, director, human resources and administration at Professional Risk Associates states, "Melissa is a caring, outgoing, knowledgeable member of the Norfolk DARS team. This shines through in her work with the Commonwealth Workforce Networks and the Workforce Business Services teams."
William E. Seaton
William "Wes" Seaton, using his tenacity and creativity, develops innovative solutions to meet the needs of businesses. His knowledge of workforce development, business and staffing services, tax incentives and disability awareness training ensures he creates a win-win outcome for persons with disabilities and businesses who hire them.
"People with disabilities are like other employees," observes Wes. "They want to do a good job, appreciate constructive supervision, enjoy new challenges and seek to get ahead." Wes is certain that businesses that successfully recruit and retain qualified employees maintain a competitive edge in the global marketplace.
Wes, a resident of Chesterfield County, has been involved with workforce development and programming since 1995. He is a member of SHRM, Richmond Area Diversity Roundtable and Business First Greater Richmond.