Denny Morris, left, is presented with Fort Lee’s first Good Neighbor Award by Maj. Gen. Rodney D. Fogg on June 7, 2021. Photo by Jon Watson, courtesy US Army.
In 2022, one of CCALS’ founders and oldest friends – Denny Morris, longtime Executive Director for the Crater Planning District Commission (CPDC) – retired from the Board. CCALS began in 2010 as the Virginia Logistics Research Center through an initiative of the CPDC, with Morris playing a key role in the organization’s formation. He continued to be a tremendous asset and a great support to CCALS in the years that followed.
“The Crater PDC hired folks and funded the original feasibility study for what became CCALS,” said outgoing CCALS President and Executive Director Mark Manasco. “Denny was the genesis and convener of all of this. He saw the need and brought the folks together to create this thing called CCALS.”
Morris continued to advise and support CCALS as a board member during the following years. “Denny does not say much during meetings but when he speaks everyone pays particular attention,” said CCALS Board Chair Dawit Haile. “The enthusiasm and insights that he has shared over the years have always been inspiring.”
In addition to his support of CCALS, Morris has helped to shape the region he served in many ways. He was just out of graduate school in Tennessee with a stint in Korea with the US Army under his belt, when he was hired by CPDC in 1971. (Coincidentally, time spent at Fort Lee while in the army was his first introduction to the area.) In 1984 he was named executive director and remained there for 51 years.
During that time he helped to grow and strengthen what later became Virginia’s Gateway Region. He supported the region’s small business community through the Commission’s Crater Development Company, established in 1985 to provide small business financing by working cooperatively with the region’s financial institutions. He coordinated the area’s response to the 2005 Base Realignment & Closure Commission, which saw Fort Lee double in size, becoming home to the Army Logistics University, Ordnance School, portions of the Army Transportation School, among other initiatives; and the new location of the Defense Contract Management Agency, along with $1.9 billion in facility construction and major road improvements in the surrounding communities. He worked to develop Petersburg Area Regional Tourism, contracting the original feasibility study on a marketing initiative and how it should be structured. And, he was recognized by the Friends of the Lower Appomattox River for his work in conserving and protecting the Appomattox River.
Morris has served on Virginia Association of Planning District Commissions (VAPDC) committees and as a member of its Board of Directors. He continues his service to the region, serving on the GO Virginia Foundation Board and the Brightpoint Community College Foundation Board, and he was awarded Fort Lee’s Good Neighbor Award.