Fran Bradford is a senior vice president on McGuireWoods Consulting’s Virginia government relations team and national education practice.
Prior to joining the firm, Fran most recently served in the education secretariat for Gov. Ralph Northam’s 2018 – 2022 administration, first as deputy secretary and then as secretary of education. During this time, she helped shape and implement education policy from pre-kindergarten through higher education, providing support and direction to the state’s public colleges and universities, State Council of Higher Education of Virginia (SCHEV), the Virginia Community College System, the Department of Education, as well as state museums, arts and historical organizations, and higher education centers.
Before her appointment to the governor’s cabinet, Fran spent 15 years with William & Mary, where she served first as director and then as the associate vice president for government relations and was responsible for all areas of the university’s state and federal government relations. She also previously served in several capacities, including acting director of communications and government relations, at SCHEV, the commonwealth’s higher education coordinating agency.
During her tenure with Gov. Northam’s administration, Fran helped to shape and pass legislation that created G3, Virginia’s free community college program for qualified students, expanded access to in-state tuition and financial aid, created the Virginia Office of Education Economics at the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, and worked to pass budgets that made historic investments in need-based financial aid for higher education and in Virginia’s historically black colleges and universities. She also chaired Gov. Northam’s FAFSA Completion Work Group and played a key role in the implementation of Virginia’s Tech Talent Initiative, through which state higher education institutions have committed to the state’s effort to strengthen the computer science talent pipeline.
In the fall of 2005, Fran was called on to fill the position of deputy secretary of education during the remaining months of Gov. Mark Warner's term. While serving in the Warner administration, she worked to forward his higher education priorities, including access, affordability, performance measures, research, economic development and the relationship between higher education and K-12.
Fran serves on the executive board of the Virginia Network, an organization that promotes women's leadership in higher education, and the Education Commission for the States. She also serves on the board of the Science Museum of Virginia, and the Richmond Public Library Foundation. She previously served as the chair of the taskforce for the National Higher Education Government Relations Conference. She is a regular guest lecturer in higher education graduate programs and leadership programs.