L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs

L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs



Virginia’s top public service leadership program continues a tradition of excellence and problem-solving

Congratulations to the Virginia Executive Institute Class of 2024!
Congratulations to the Virginia Executive Institute Class of 2024!

by David Slipher

In 1997, VCU assumed responsibility for the Virginia Executive Institute from the commonwealth. Since then, more than 1,400 public service leaders have completed the program. The list of alumni reads like a “Who’s Who of Virginia government”, including cabinet secretaries, agency heads, managers, directors, and other key decision-makers.

27 years later, VEI remains the premier leadership development program for leaders in Virginia government from all branches and regions — executive, judicial, and legislative — as well as universities, independent state agencies, and local governments across the Commonwealth.

“The Virginia Executive Institute continues to be a signature program in the development of Virginia's top leaders,” said Wilder School Dean Susan T. Gooden. “Through VEI, we are shaping skilled decision-makers and ethical leaders who are prepared to address the complex challenges of today and tomorrow. This commitment to excellence and problem-solving at the highest levels of government ensures that Virginia remains a leader in effective and responsive governance.”

Recognizing public service leadership

View the Wilder School VEI 2024 Spring State Capitol visit
View more 2024 VEI photos from the Grace E. Harris Leadership Institute

Offered in the spring and fall, VEI is a rigorous program that includes self-assessments such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and 360 Feedback, a robust reading list, media training, conflict resolution and ethical decision-making sessions, and coaching. The class meets over several months at rotating locations throughout the state. 

Each class is divided into groups and assigned a “leadership challenge” to research and present to a panel of state government leaders at graduation at the state Capitol. The 66th Governor of Virginia, L. Douglas Wilder, delivered remarks at their graduation. 


“I was pleased to join the Virginia Executive Institute leaders and to address them. Having served as Vice Chairman of the Virginia Housing Study Commission, I can relate to the critical work VEI is doing in implementing solutions to meet the continuing needs in our communities today. This improvement is greatly needed in public leadership, and the findings of the VEI group presentations were eye-opening to me.” 
— Governor L. Douglas Wilder

The 2024 Spring class groups developed solutions to a range of topics, presenting on:

  • Developing Consistency for Conflict Resolution in the Workplace
  • Feasible or Unreasonable? The Four-Day Work Week
  • Living the Dream: The Struggle to Find an Affordable Home
  • Service Beyond the Desk: Embracing Volunteerism to Support our Communities and Improve our Personal Wellbeing
  • Virginia Flex: Transforming Virginia's Work Paradigm to Improve Organizational Culture and Performance Outcomes

The governor's office, legislative leaders, cabinet secretaries, or agency directors must nominate program candidates.

Applications for the 2024 Fall class are due Friday, June 28, 2024. 

For more information, contact Sherida Haughton, Associate Director of Grace E. Harris Leadership Institute at haughtonse@vcu.edu or 804-986-3528.

View program requirements and nominate a candidate for the Virginia Executive Institute 

Congratulations to the Virginia Executive Institute Spring 2024 Class!

Alexis Aplasca 
Chief Clinical Officer
Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services 

Seth Austin
State Registrar 
Virginia Department of Health 

Stacey Brown 
Boating Division Director 
Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources 

Michele Crone 
Director of Benefits 
Virginia Department of Veterans Services 

Aubrey Granderson 
Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services, Division of Licensure and Regulatory Services

Robert Arons 
Director, Office of Research and Planning 
Virginia Department of Social Services  

Jeanine Black
Division Manager, Sr. Budget, Finance and Contracts 
Virginia Department of Social Services 

Aubrey Chigwada 
Director, Office of Workers' Compensation 
Virginia Department of Human Resource  Management 

Montwrace Cunningham 
Program Manager, Virginia Military Survivors & Dependents Education Program
Virginia Department of Veterans Services 

Denise Hayes 
EBP Operations Administrator 
Virginia Department of Corrections 

Kimberly Jones 
Chief Learning and Development Officer 
Virginia Department of Social Services 

Allison Lawrence 
Executive Director 
Virginia Senate Democratic Caucus

Amy Martin 
Manager, Wildlife Information & Environmental Services 
Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources 

Richard Matthews 
Chief Customer Experience Officer
Virginia Information Technologies Agency  

Clay Mountcastle 
Executive Director  
Virginia War Memorial  

Ty Parr 
Division Director for Local Engagement and Support
Virginia Department of Social Services 

Kathryn Perszyk 
Land Protection & Revitalization Division  Director 
Virginia Department of Environmental Quality 

Dominique Prophet 
Branch Chief
Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency 

Sarah Rogers 
Director of Enforcement 
Virginia Department of Health Professions 9

Kelli Spriggs 
Branch Chief
Virginia Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency

Pam Stephenson 
IT Director 
Virginia Department of General Services 

Albert Stokes 
Deputy Chief, Administration
Richmond Police Department

Zuhairah Tillinghast 
Deputy Insurance Commissioner
Virginia State Corporation Commission 

Keith Tisdell 
Director of Buildings and Grounds
Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services  

Steven Williams 
Program Manager 
Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles 

Nancy Wilson 
Director, Tax Processing Operations, Business Support Services 
Virginia Department of Taxation