Southern Research announced today that Lillie Ryans has joined the Birmingham-based organization as director of contracts, following an extensive nationwide search to fill this key position.

Ryans comes to Southern Research after nine years as contracts director at SRI International, a Menlo Park, California, non-profit research center that like Southern Research focuses on serving government and industry clients. A deeply experienced contracts professional, Ryans has worked in the field for more than 30 years.

Southern Research Lillie Ryans
Lillie Ryans is joining Southern Research as its new director of contracts.

“Complementing our strong science and engineering are great administrative functions. Critical among these are contracts, which define how we work with our government and commercial clients,” said Art Tipton, Ph.D., president and CEO of Southern Research.

“Lillie has the experience and talent to help us continue and improve our strong contract processes in a way that drives additional growth,” Tipton added. “We’re thrilled to have her on board.”

At Southern Research, Ryans takes charge of a contracts team with a dozen staff members working in close coordination with the organization’s Drug Discovery, Drug Development, Engineering, and Energy & Environment divisions.

The team negotiates and manages contracts with government organizations such as NASA, the National Institutes of Health, and the Department of Defense, as well as commercial enterprises including large pharmaceutical and aerospace companies.

“In this highly visible role, Lillie’s leadership style will strengthen the collaboration among the contracts team and across all of our divisions, now and into the future,” said Michael Catalano, a Southern Research vice president and general counsel.

Southern Research Lillie Ryans
As Southern Research’s director of contracts, Lillie Ryans will work closely with Michael Catalano, vice president and general counsel.

“In addition to the day to day management of responsibilities, Lillie will identify opportunities for process improvement, lead training and development initiatives for the contracts team, and help to integrate certain functions of the intellectual property department into the contracts team.”

“I appreciate the kind of work being done at Southern Research and the impact it has on the lives of people,” Ryans said. “Activities like cancer research and Alzheimer’s research resonate with everybody. I look forward to being part of an organization that has a powerful vision and mission.”

At SRI International, Ryans was responsible for providing pre-award management for research contracts generating revenue exceeding $500 million. Prior to that, she served as director of Engineering Research Administration at Stanford University and as deputy director of the Office of Sponsored Research, where she provided pre- and post-award management.

She holds a master’s degree in procurement and contract management from Golden Gate University in San Francisco and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.