Laura Fornash serves as a senior vice president and assists clients with policy and legislative matters with a particular focus on education issues at the state and federal level.
Prior to joining the firm, Laura spent the past 27 years in public service including working in leadership roles at two higher education institutions. Most recently, she advised the President at the University of Virginia in her role as the Executive Assistant to the President for State Governmental Relations where she was responsible for advancing the University’s priorities with the executive and legislative branches of government.
Laura served as the Secretary of Education for the Commonwealth of Virginia where she led the development and implementation of the Governor’s education priorities and provided guidance to the 16 public universities, the Virginia Community College System, the Department of Education and the state-supported museums, library, and Arts Commission. She also served as deputy secretary of education and as the executive director of the Governor’s Commission on Higher Education Reform, Innovation, and Investment from 2010-2011, which recommended landmark higher education legislation including greater emphasis on degree attainment, affordability, high demand degrees, innovation, operational efficiency, and autonomy.
Before her appointment to the Governor’s cabinet, she spent 20 years with Virginia Tech in a number of different divisions including student affairs, continuing education, outreach, distance learning, and government relations. In 1998 as the Director of Information Technology Programs, Laura 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. In 2001, she opened the Virginia Tech Richmond Center and served as its first director helping to launch credit and noncredit programs for working professionals in the region.
Laura also served as the 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.