With the world of national security constantly evolving, companies and government agencies need continuing education to keep up with growing demands.

Virginia Tech’s National Security Executive Leadership Program (NSELP) meets the need for continuing education for professionals in the greater Washington, D.C., metro area. The five-day program informs and educates emerging leaders, professionals, and masters and Ph.D. candidates in contemporary national security issues. National subject matter experts contribute to the online programming.

The NSELP participants develop knowledge and skills to face technical, philosophical, and policy issues that affect their agencies.

“We present a more eclectic account of national security so that participants leave with an intellectual horizon that expands beyond the narrow area of expertise that they may have in their 9 to 5 jobs,” said Mehrzad Boroujerdi, director of the School of Public and International Affairs.

Online executive education reaches professionals who are tackling national security challenges and provides them with timely content to support their professional roles. Participants can access NSELP content, including presentations and video recordings, for a year following their session. 

Proximity to the Washington, D.C., metro area and the ability to deliver programming online assures that experienced leaders in the field can be tapped for their expertise. Recent sessions included:

  • Sean O’Keefe, Senate Committee on Appropriations, Secretary of the Navy, Comptroller for the Department of Defense, Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget, and Administrator of NASA;
  • Ambassador Joel Danies (ret.);
  • Letitia Long, chairman of the Board of the Intelligence and National Security Alliance, rector of the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors, and fifth director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA);
  • Ryan Burnette, vice president, Life Sciences, Merrick and Company;
  • Sezaneh Seymour, Senior Advisor to the Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for Cyber and Emerging Technology on the National Security Council;
  • Jim Moran, Former Representative, Commonwealth of Virginia 8th District; and
  • Lynne Schnurr, executive consultant to General Dynamics Information Technology.

The program includes lectures from experts and round-table discussions. It features a national security simulation designed by Ed McGrady, adjunct senior fellow, Defense Program at Center for a New American Security. Participants use the simulation to apply the knowledge they acquire throughout the week to address a proposed national security incident that encompasses both domestic and foreign policy. This virtual and hands-on course accomplishes the equivalent seat time to a three-credit graduate course at Virginia Tech. Lacy Watson, a Virginia Tech Planning, Governance, and Globalization doctoral student and NSELP participant, noted that “from the opening course on Grand Strategy to the closing course on Cybersecurity and Emerging Technologies, the week’s coursework was stimulating, rigorous, and fun.”

Enrollment in the March and November 2021 sessions included professionals from private companies, think-tank organizations, and federal, state, and local government entities. Delivering continuing education of this type fulfills the land-grant mission of the university. The Ridenour Faculty Fellowship and Endowment and Merrick and Company provided support for the spring and fall programs respectively. Moving forward, NSELP will engage public and private organizations to increase the impact of the program. Registration for the fall program will begin in spring 2022.

Written by Elizabeth Quill

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