New position ensures access to opportunities created by the Advanced Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturing Cluster regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, or geographic location.

Richmond, VA – February 28, 2022 The Cluster Accelerator for Advanced Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturing, an entity launched to fast-track the development of a globally competitive essential medicines manufacturing hub across Central Virginia, announced the hiring of Vanessa Womack as its lead for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. The new position will oversee efforts to ensure the diverse rural-urban community that comprises the Greater Richmond-Petersburg MSA can participate in opportunities created by the emerging Advanced Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturing industry.

Jeff Gallagher, interim Executive Director of the Cluster Accelerator said, “We are excited to have Ms. Womack as part of our team and we will lean on her expertise in diversity, equity and inclusion, to help us craft and execute on a strategy to support these efforts in life sciences. We are building a global industry and we are scaling up quickly, and the selection of Vanessa will ensure the opportunities and benefits of this emerging industry extend to the diverse population in the region.” The Central Virginia region is diverse, covering five cities and twelve counties with both urban and rural populations.

The New Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Lead role will be responsible for driving a region-wide diversity, equity and inclusion strategy, and will coordinate and implement regional efforts to support an inclusive culture for life sciences, focusing initially on the DEI plan component of the Build Back Better Regional Competition grant award from the US Economic Development Administration (EDA). Working collaboratively with public and private sector organizations, Ms. Womack will design and execute the strategy to engage the community training, employment and supplier for life sciences and act as an important community liaison.

Prior to this role, Ms. Womack served as Programs, Training and Technical Assistance Planner at the Virginia Community Healthcare Association for nearly nine years developing strategic training programming and advancing efforts to grow an educational resource for healthcare leaders. She also has significant experience in DEI initiatives through her consulting company, Vanessa Womack Consulting, working with organizations on managing diverse teams, improving organizational culture, and board training.

The Advanced Pharmaceutical Manufacturing and Research & Development (R&D) Cluster Accelerator is built upon regional research, innovation and manufacturing assets with a goal of building a world-class hub to research and manufacture essential medicines for Americans by leveraging our competitive assets.

The regional cluster accelerator’s goal is to help build a globally competitive pharmaceutical manufacturing and R&D industry in the Central Virginia region. The work will fast-track regional efforts to reshore and secure the production of essential medicines in the United States, lower their costs and ensure access to quality medicines in the U.S. and around the world. Many organizations will support scale-up in infrastructure, workforce development, and supply chain development.


About Advanced Pharmaceutical Manufacturing and R&D Cluster Accelerator

The Accelerator is an initiative designed to accelerate the scale-up of a globally competitive ecosystem in Central Virginia focused on manufacturing essential medicines in the United States. The initiative is led by a multi-jurisdictional coalition of public and private sector stakeholders actively engaged in the cluster’s R&D, manufacturing, workforce development, and supply chain development, and supported by GO Virginia and the Grow Capital Jobs Foundation. The founding leadership board includes Activation Capital, AMPAC Fine Chemicalsthe City of Petersburgthe City of RichmondCivicaRxthe Community College Workforce Alliancethe Greater Richmond PartnershipMedicines for All Institute at Virginia Commonwealth University College of EngineeringPhlow Corp.Virginia Economic Development Partnership,  Virginia’s Gateway Region, and Virginia State University. The process, participants, and strategic plan for the Cluster Accelerator can be found here.

About Activation Capital

Activation Capital is a leading innovation ecosystem development organization providing social, knowledge, and financial capital to clusters, entrepreneur support organizations, and entrepreneurs – accelerating their progress through development and maturation.

An independent authority of the Commonwealth of Virginia, our mission is to grow life sciences and other advanced technology innovation by promoting scientific research, commercialization, and ecosystem development that attracts and creates 21st-century jobs and companies. It operates the 34-acre Virginia Bio+Tech Park –  the hub of life science and technology innovations in Central Virginia; oversees the Cluster Accelerator for Advanced Pharmaceutical R&D and Manufacturing; and supports the development and expansion of startup ecosystem assets such as Lighthouse Labs, Startup Virginia, Dominion Energy Innovation Center, Riverflow Growth Fund and 757 Collab.  For more information, visit

Media Contacts:

Sara Maddox email:

Betsey Odell email: