Virginia Tech alumna Laura W. Fornash, Secretary of Education for the Commonwealth of Virginia, will address the 2012 graduates of the Virginia Tech National Capital Region during commencement ceremonies to be held on Sunday, May 13, beginning at 1:30 p.m. 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.

Fornash was appointed Virginia’s Secretary of Education by Gov. Bob McDonnell in August 2011. As a member of the governor’s cabinet, Fornash assists the governor in the development and implementation of the state’s education policy. In addition, she provides guidance to the commonwealth’s16 public universities, the Virginia Community College System, five higher education and research centers, the Department of Education, and the state-supported museums.

Prior to this appointment, she served as deputy secretary of education and as the executive director of the Governor’s Commission on Higher Education Reform, Innovation, and Investment.

Before joining the McDonnell administration, Fornash spent 20 years with Virginia Tech in a number of different roles including positions in student affairs, continuing education, distance learning, and government relations.

At Virginia Tech, Fornash most recently served as the director of state government relations. She was the university’s restructuring project director with the responsibility of managing Virginia Tech's implementation of the 2005 Restructuring Act that created new levels of operational autonomy for all public higher education institutions in exchange for meeting certain academic performance measures. Prior to her position in government relations, she was director of the Virginia Tech Richmond Center.

In 1998, as the director of information technology programs, Fornash launched an innovative Web-based interdisciplinary master’s degree program to help transition professionals into the information technology field as result of research conducted for the International Technology Association of America.

Fornash received her undergraduate and master’s degree from Virginia Tech. A native of Chesterfield, Va., she is married and has three children.



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