Karen R. Jackson, Secretary of Technology for the Commonwealth of Virginia, will deliver the keynote address at the Virginia Tech National Capital Region Commencement ceremony at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, May 18,  at the George Mason University Center for the Arts in Fairfax, Va.

Approximately 400 National Capital Region students are expected to complete their degree requirements this spring.

As Virginia’s Secretary of Technology, Jackson is responsible for policy and legislative initiatives as well as developing programs to facilitate innovation, entrepreneurship, technology development, and adoption. She serves as a senior advisor to the governor on technology matters including innovation, modeling and simulation, telecommunications, cyber security, and unmanned aerial systems. 

She is also responsible for overseeing the commonwealth’s information technology infrastructure.

Jackson spearheads efforts to create opportunities in the unmanned aircraft industry, and she generated multi-state support for the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership — a joint initiative of Virginia, New Jersey, and Maryland. 

Her work to leverage the partnership's proposal to the Federal Aviation Administration to operate one of six exclusive sites to test unmanned aircraft in the nation paid dividends when the FAA chose the application after a rigorous 10-month selection process involving proposals from 24 states. 

Prior to her appointment, she served as Virginia's Deputy Secretary of Technology and vice president of broadband programs for the Center for Innovative Technology.

Engaged in several federal policy initiatives including the development of the National Broadband Plan, Jackson received a 2009 IP3 award from Public Knowledge for her work in information policy and was named to Government Technology's 2010 list of the top 25 Doers, Dreamers, and Drivers.

Jackson serves on a number of boards including the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, the Center for Innovative Technology, the Policy Committee of the National Modeling and Simulation Coalition, and the National Center for Collaboration in Medical Modeling and Simulation.

She holds a bachelor's degree from Christopher Newport University and a Master of Business Administration degree from The College of William and Mary.