Virginia Tech’s Division of Advancement has opened offices in Arlington and added key members to its team in support of the university’s push to increase its prominence and impact in the National Capital Region.
“No university is better positioned to help greater Washington, D.C., grow its innovation economy,” Virginia Tech Executive Vice President and Provost Thanassis Rikakis said of the expansion, which is in line with the university’s strategy to become a top-100 global university. “Our research strengths align with key industries. We have a strong track record with government agencies that fund research. Our alumni are present in large numbers. We are committed to playing a growing role in this region. Advancement is an essential partner in this process.”
The Division of Advancement is responsible for Virginia Tech’s fundraising, university relations, and alumni relations activities.
“There is tremendous opportunity for both our nation’s capital and our institution to capitalize on discoveries in fields of critical importance to society, such as cybersecurity and intelligent infrastructure,” Vice President for Advancement Charlie Phlegar said. “But we cannot reach our full potential unless we raise our profile, raise the level of engagement of our alumni, and raise more money through philanthropy than we have in the past. If we are to be major research university in the capital, we must have an advancement presence that is best-in-class.”
In recent months, the university has hired Shannon Andrea as media relations director for the National Capital Region and Nicole Santos as assistant director of leadership gifts. They joined a team that includes Alumni Programs Director Jack Hutcheson and Assistant Director for Communications Barbara Micale. Hutcheson has served in his position since 1994. Micale has served in her position since March 2014, and in university relations for Virginia Tech in the region since 2004.
Principal Gifts Officer Natalie Hart, who led efforts that secured $25 million in private support for Virginia Tech’s Intelligent Infrastructure and Construction Complex project, will relocate and join the team in August. One of Hart’s first priorities will be developing relationships to advance Virginia Tech’s growing impact in areas of integrated security and cybersecurity, in coordination with the Hume Center for National Security and Technology.
The Hume Center’s research and education programs, which take place in both Blacksburg and the National Capital Region, have shown considerable growth, in keeping with strong demand from government and industry for workforce development and technology solutions in the cybersecurity and national security domains. Since its founding in 2010, the Hume Center’s education programs have grown to involve approximately 300 undergraduates and 100 graduate students per year. The center’s research expenditures and contract awards have more than doubled since 2012.
“Industry and government have a strong, and growing need for innovation and expertise in the cybersecurity and national security sectors,” Virginia Tech President for Research and Innovation Theresa Mayer said. “The Hume Center helps Virginia Tech address these needs through its research, education, and outreach programs in both the National Capital Region and Blacksburg.”
Virginia Secretary of Technology Karen Jackson said there are an estimated 36,000 unfilled jobs in cybersecurity within the commonwealth, based on research conducted by Burning Glass Industries for the Business Higher Education Forum.
“We are on an upward trajectory,” Jackson said. “There’s always been a need for cybersecurity and network security, but we have a perfect storm brewing with the Internet of Things coming on and more devices being connected than ever before.”
Hart became a principal gifts officer in 2016, having held positions of progressive responsibility at Virginia Tech since 2002, including advising President Tim Sands on large-scale initiatives, serving as director of government affairs, and serving as deputy chief of staff for the president. Within advancement, she reports to Associate Vice President for Principal Gifts Monecia Taylor.
Andrea became media relations director for the National Capital Region in January, and reports to Virginia Tech Media Relations Director Michael Stowe. She previously served as marketing communications director for the National Catholic Educational Association, and before that was media relations director for the National Parks Conservation Association. Andrea has more than 16 years of public relations and strategic communications expertise in the nonprofit and educational sector within greater Washington, D.C.
In January, Santos became assistant director for leadership gifts in the National Capital Region, reporting to Director of Leadership and Major Gifts Judy Wolfe. Leadership gift officers focus on securing sizable, current-use contributions from alumni and friends of the university. Santos previously directed annual giving at Elms College. She has also worked in fundraising at Berkshire Hills Music Academy.
Virginia Tech has roughly 58,000 alumni living within an hour’s drive of Washington, D.C. In addition to the Virginia Tech Research Center – Arlington, where members of the advancement team are located, the university has locations in Alexandria, Falls Church, Leesburg, Manassas, and Middleburg.
“Our strong presence in and around the nation’s capital is a differentiating factor for Virginia Tech,” said Steven McKnight, the university’s vice president for the National Capital Region. “We are seizing the opportunity to drive innovation and make a positive impact on the economy and people’s lives. By engaging our alumni, building strong partnerships, attracting media coverage, and inspiring donors, our advancement team will help us meet our mission as a global land-grant university.”