LaVinia Ray

Southern Research
Associate Director, Operational Controls and Compliance Services

Greetings, my name is LaVinia Ray. I am currently the Associate Director of Operational Controls and Compliance Services at Southern Research. I have over 20 years of leadership experience in Research, Healthcare, and Retail Industries.
I was born on a farm in rural Davis County, Iowa. The nearest civilization was Eldon, a picturesque town best known for a small white house with large Gothic windows depicted in a painting by Grant Wood entitled The Gothic House. In 1930, Wood sketched the small house while visiting Eldon and later added it as the background to a painting of a stern farmer with a pitchfork and his “wife.” Life for me was far from idyllic, but I still appreciate the joy of the countryside I was blessed to explore as a child.
In his letter to Henry H. Rogers, 26–28 April 1897, Mark Twain said, “A successful book is not made of what is in it, but of what is left out of it.” This could be said of this introduction. I could write voluminous accounts of what has brought me to where I am now, but it would all wind up here. In life, I have many labels, my favorite is Mama, but I am also a strong woman, abuse survivor, epilepsy warrior, scientist, leader, and a proud member of the LGBTQ community.
I have grown twin daughters and a son. Additionally I am blessed with two rescued furry children, a Min Pin and a Beagle .
I began my career as a Histotechnician in 1989 in my home state of Iowa. I moved to Birmingham, Alabama, in 2001 to start my tenure at Southern Research. Working for a nonprofit contract research organization has given me many opportunities to develop skills that have made me a proud contributor to many significant studies. To me, diversity is the spice of life, and I work in an environment that celebrates diversity, and we are all better people because of it.
I have been the proudly honored recipient of numerous awards within the histology community, including in 2020 Histotechnology Professional of the Year from the National Society of Histotechnology and in 2016, Laboratory Professional of the Year by the Laboratory Healthcare Professionals Network. My CV includes degrees, certifications, and qualifications of which I am immensely proud.
I am currently enrolled at the University of West Alabama, within weeks of receiving a Bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary studies with a minor in Nonprofit Leadership. Since beginning my studies at UWA, I have often been asked why I am returning to college, seemingly in the latter half of a successful career. I always reply to the inquirer, “It is for me!” A Bachelor’s Degree and further, a Master’s degree, would signify the completion of lifelong goals. I am sure the degrees will be recognized as a motivator for future growth within my organization, but moreover, it is a personal goal to “finish” what I “quit” years ago.
I am still a dreamer and incredibly excited to have the opportunity to travel along this journey into lifelong learning and friendship with the incredible women of Momentum Birmingham.

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