The School of Public and International Affairs in the greater Washington, D.C., metro area is offering an intensive one-week course intended to set the bar for national security professional development.

This National Security Executive Leadership Program is designed to empower and prepare participants from all backgrounds to bridge the policy and technical gap and assume critical leadership positions.

Through interdisciplinary training, the program, which will be held from March 22-26, will provide participants with a comprehensive understanding of the U.S. national security apparatus, the appropriations process, gaming, decision-making under adverse conditions, and the relationship between emerging technologies and national security. 

“As the geopolitical landscape continues to change and we face new emerging threats, our future national security leaders must not only be dynamic, but have expertise spanning policy, law, and science,” said Mehrzad Boroujerdi, professor and director of the School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA).

“Because 50 percent of SPIA’s faculty is located in the vibrant Washington, D.C., metro area, we are nicely situated to contribute to the university’s overall decision to augment its activities in the critical area of national security,” Boroujerdi said. “And providing executive education programs also enables Virginia Tech to reach out to nontraditional students.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Security Executive Leadership Program has been modified from in person to a virtual lecture-based course.

Boroujerdi said this year’s vision is to preserve public health guidelines while offering an equivalent lecture-based approach via Zoom with supplemental course materials, such as slides, short videos, and readings. There will also be a day-long simulation exercise where participants will deal with a national security crisis.

“We have chosen a stellar group of speakers comprised of both Virginia Tech faculty and leading outside experts in policy and national security, including from the uniformed services and federal agencies,” he said.

These include Sean O'Keefe, who has served as comptroller for the Department of Defense, secretary of the Navy, deputy director for the Office of Management and Budget, administrator of NASA, and CEO of Airbus Group North America, who will address the topic of leadership in national security; and Charles Clancy, senior vice president and general manager of MITRE Labs and a former research leader at the National Security Agency, who is a world-renowned expert on wireless communications and information security. Clancy will discuss the topic of the future of the internet and impact to national security.

Among Virginia Tech faculty is Jonathan Black, professor and director of the Aerospace and Ocean Systems Laboratory in the Hume Center for National Center for Security and Technology, and co-director at the Center for Space Science and Engineering Research, who will lecture on “Emerging Issue: Drones,” and cover technical and policy challenges with these platforms and focus on the opportunities they present.

“I believe national security education is central to Virginia Tech’s core workforce development mission,” Black said. “There is a great demand from employers — including aerospace companies located in northern Virginia and ocean companies like Newport News Shipbuilding in southeastern Virginia — for hiring national security experts.”

Ideal candidates for the National Security Executive Leadership Program are mid-level national security professionals with three to eight years of relevant experience seeking professional development for their career trajectory. This includes public and private sector professionals in the military/intelligence community, as well as corporations, think tanks, and foreign embassies in the D.C. area.

“But,” said Black, “even for executives who are not directly in the national security arena, knowledge of the policy makers’ and funding sources’ goals and objectives is valuable because it allows for truly strategic planning and analysis. Those who complete this program will have a competitive advantage in that regard.”

Participants who complete all requirements will receive 3.5 continuing education credits and a Virginia Tech certificate of achievement.

For more information on the National Security Executive Leadership Program, contact Patty Tatro in Continuing and Professional Education. Employers seeking to offer the course as executive training for multiple employees can inquire about special arrangements.

Select seats will be reserved for current Virginia Tech students enrolled in degree-seeking programs. To inquire about taking the course for credit, contact Amanda Fawkes for more details.