The New College Institute has a new executive director after officials appointed Joe Sumner to the position. 

Joe Sumner. From LinkedIn.

Sumner comes to the Martinsville-based NCI by way of Georgia, where he currently serves as the associate vice president for economic development at Wiregrass Georgia Technical College. He will officially start Feb. 28, according to a news release from NCI.

“I am honored to join the team of New College Institute, and my family and I are excited to become active and engaged members of the Martinsville Henry County community,” Sumner said in the release. 

“I look forward to continuing the successes of NCI while developing new and innovative educational opportunities for current and future students. I am eager to strengthen existing relationships, rekindle past relationships, and establish new ones with partners who share the vision that NCI is an invaluable resource of opportunities for the region.” 

Sumner’s appointment is the culmination of a search that started in October. Richard Hall, who led the NCI executive search committee, said Sumner was uniquely geared toward the needs of the Martinsville area. 

“I was particularly sensitive to bringing in a leader that would embrace the deep hard-working blue-collar values of the residents that make up our community,” Hall said in the release. “Joe Sumner has demonstrated, throughout the interview process, a superior level of knowledge and expertise in the education and workforce training space, and he possesses a deep desire to work, live and raise his family in our community.” 

The state-supported NCI was created in 2006 with a goal of bridging the gap between higher education and students in Southside, and it sought to partner with colleges to bring classes, workforce training and other programs to its Martinsville location. 

Sumner will be its fifth executive director, and he comes during a crucial time for the institute, which has struggled to fulfill its mission, according to reporting last fall in the Martinsville Bulletin. The newspaper reported at the time that a number of highly touted training initiatives had never gotten off the ground, many classrooms sat empty, and fewer than half of NCI’s full-time positions were filled.

State Sen. Bill Stanley, R-Franklin County, who is chairman of NCI’s board of directors, said they will look toward Sumner for guidance. 

“Joe Sumner is just the leader we need to ensure NCI’s success in the future,” Stanley said in the release.

Sumner said he is looking forward to the transition. 

“I’m really looking forward to joining the community, getting to know everyone, putting down roots and calling it home,” Sumner said. “I’ve traveled a lot in my career and my family is at the point where we are looking for our forever home and we’re looking forward to getting settled in and live life in the area.” 

Dean-Paul Stephens is a reporter for Cardinal News. He is based in Martinsville. Reach him at