Seal of the Governor
For Immediate Release: July 1, 2019
Contacts: Office of the Governor: Alenaa Yarmosky, | Office of the Secretary of Finance: June Jennings, Deputy Secretary of Finance,

Governor Northam Announces New Virginia Management Fellows

In collaboration with Virginia Tech, program aims to develop next generation of government leaders

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced the second cohort of Virginia Management Fellows (VMF). The program is an initiative of the Commonwealth of Virginia developed with Virginia Tech to help meet the state’s needs for future government leaders.

“The Virginia Management Fellows program is an effort to build our leadership bench throughout state government,” said Governor Northam. “This new cohort of Fellows are an impressive group of aspiring managers and leaders that have diverse educational experiences and backgrounds, and represent our Commonwealth’s best and brightest. We are fortunate the VMF program is working to ensure that Virginia has the leadership in place across our state agencies to keep our Commonwealth moving forward.”

The General Assembly approved the curriculum and learning program, salary, and benefit structure of the VMF. The program aims to create a succession pipeline for leadership and management jobs in all branches of state government that will be in high demand as current employees begin to retire. According to recent data from the Commonwealth, 42 percent of general managers, 39 percent of financial managers, and 30 percent of compliance and safety officers will be eligible for retirement within the next five years.

“The Virginia Management Fellows program is a smart investment for Virginia,” said Secretary of Finance Aubrey Layne. “Our office has oversight of the program, and we’re pleased that the General Assembly continues to see the value in the VMF. Well-educated, well-trained, and well-supported emerging leaders are the trifecta for ensuring that the Commonwealth has the talent pool it needs to grow economic vitality, expand services and opportunities for citizens, and take the long-view of hiring and training people to manage tax dollars to their highest and best use.”

Deputy Secretary of Finance June Jennings, the state liaison to the program, works with finance colleagues, state agencies, executive cabinet members, legislators, and faculty members from Virginia Tech’s School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA) to support the program’s implementation. 

“SPIA at Virginia Tech is honored to work with the Governor’s Office, Finance Secretariat, and state leaders in the implementation and growth of the VMF program, which is both cutting-edge and thoughtful in its approach,” said Leisha LaRiviere, Associate Director of SPIA and VMF Director. “The new Fellows tackle theory, practice, direct service requirements, and research that identifies and troubleshoots areas for improvements in state functions. Deputy Secretary Jennings and I are pleased to announce a new service learning element of the VMF program.”

The 2019–2021 VMF cohort will work with the community and the public and private sectors to design, fund, and deliver a collaborative project benefiting an under-served program.

During the two-year program, Virginia Management Fellows build technical understanding and skills across four core areas: customer service; operations; legislation, regulation, and compliance; and analytics. Each fellow is assigned to and embedded within a state agency for an eight-month rotation. Virginia Management Fellows research, study, and understand “wicked problems” during each rotation, culminating in a solutions-driven policy analysis with recommendations. A special feature of each agency rotation is the support and guidance of a mentor who advises Fellows on systems and functions.

Fellows build generalist leadership and management skills alongside their mentors as leadership development certificate program members in the Virginia Public Sector Leader program. All educational elements of the VMF program are designed, researched, tested, and implemented by faculty from the School of Public and International Affairs in Virginia Tech’s College of Architecture and Urban Studies. 

Partner agencies include the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services;  Department of Criminal Justice Services; Virginia Department of Health; Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services; Department of Conservation and Recreation; Department of Health Professions; Department of Mine, Minerals, and Energy; Department of Housing and Community Development, Department of Human Resources Management; Department of Motor Vehicles; Department of Planning and Budget; Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation; Department of Social Services; Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission; Senate Finance Committee; State Council of Higher Education in Virginia; State Corporation Commission; Department of Taxation; Department of Treasury; and, the Virginia Retirement System.

The 2019–2021 Virginia Management Fellows are:

John W. Cronin, with a Bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Mary Washington
Alex M. Frazier, with a Bachelor’s degree in history from George Mason University
Jaclyn R. Friedman, with a Master’s degree in marine science from The College of William & Mary and a Bachelor’s degree in marine biology from the University of Rhode Island
Jessica C. Gaines, with a Master of Business Administration degree with a healthcare management concentration (in progress) from Western Governors University and a Bachelor’s degree from Old Dominion University
Joseph R. Roman, with a Master of Public Administration degree (in progress) and a Bachelor’s degree in health services administration from Old Dominion University
Ian W. Rose, with a Master of Public Administration degree (in progress) and a Bachelor’s degree in political science from Virginia Tech
Bradley T. Shipp, with a Bachelor’s degree in global studies from the University of Virginia
Elizabeth M. Spach, with a Master’s degree in public policy and Bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Virginia
Grace C. Wheaton, with a Master of Arts degree in political science and a Bachelor’s degree in political science from Virginia Tech from Virginia Tech
Cassidy L. White, with a Juris Doctorate degree from The College of William & Mary Law School and a Bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Kentucky  
Michael T. York, with a Bachelor’s degree in philosophy, politics, economics, law and leadership studies from the University of Richmond
Connor L. Eads, with a Bachelor’s degree in government from Hampden-Sydney College

To learn more about the Fellows program, visit or contact Leisha LaRiviere, director of the VMF program and associate director of SPIA on the Richmond campus, at

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