President Timothy Sands will welcome a group of Virginia Tech students participating in National Capital Region-based programs and alumni with opening remarks at a special by-invitation-only event sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for the National Capital Region at the Virginia Tech Research Center — Arlington on Thursday.

Leadership and Public Service in the National Capital Region: A Forum for Hokies in Government and Public Policy will feature a panel discussion with distinguished Virginia Tech alumni, all of whom have achieved remarkable success in their careers in public service and policy leadership positions and exemplify Virginia Tech’s motto Ut Prosim (That I May Serve). 

Virginia’s first district Congressman Rob Wittman, who graduated from Virginia Tech with a bachelor of science in biology, will also address the group during a reception immediately following the panel discussion.

Students from across the university who are participating in a wide variety of programs, internships, and hands-on learning opportunities made possible by Virginia Tech’s presence in and around the nation’s capital will attend the forum. These include the Washington Semester, a summer program which has been offered by the School of Public and International Affairs in Old Town Alexandria for the past 18 years; Hokies on the Hill, a spring semester program entering its sixth year; and the Intelligence Community Center for Academic Excellence, a year round program run by the Hume Center for the past five years. 

The audience will also include students who are broadening their educational experiences by working in one of Virginia Tech’s many interdisciplinary research centers located in the National Capital Region, and alumni who have benefited from the host of opportunities offered in the region. 

Hokies in public service and policy leadership positions who will participate in the panel discussion include:

  • Paige Atkins, deputy associate administrator for Spectrum Planning and Policy, U.S. Department of Commerce, who holds a bachelor of science in electrical engineering from Virginia Tech
  • Kristen Baldwin, principal deputy, Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Systems Engineering, who holds a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering from Virginia Tech
  • Mark Shuart, program manager, R&D Facilities, Advanced Manufacturing, U.S. Department of Energy, who holds a bachelor of science with distinction in engineering science and mechanics and a master of science in engineering mechanics from Virginia Tech
  • John H. Thompson, director, U.S. Census Bureau, who holds both a bachelor and master of science in mathematics from Virginia Tech
  • Cathie Woteki, under secretary for Research, Education and Economics, U.S. Department of Agriculture, who holds a master of science and a Ph.D. in human nutrition from Virginia Tech

Steve McKnight, vice president for the National Capital Region, will serve as moderator for the panel discussion. McKnight earned a bachelor of science in materials engineering from Virginia Tech and has also served in executive level positions in the federal government before joining Virginia Tech in March 2014.

"We are pleased to welcome President Sands, our eminent alumni leaders, and so many students – past and present – who benefit from the many unique opportunities that Virginia Tech offers in the National Capital Region,” said McKnight. “In convening this leadership and public service forum we wanted to introduce our students to Hokies in high government positions who are great role models for them and affirm that Virginia Tech’s ideals extend far beyond their undergraduate years at the university.”

Students attending the forum will be invited to share on video -- via a National Public Radio StoryCorps-like format -- their experiences during Virginia Tech-enabled internships and research projects in the National Capital Region. These 30-second video clips may be used by Virginia Tech at campus events and on the Virginia Tech website.