Leisha LaRiviere is Associate Director of SPIA for the Virginia Tech Richmond campus. She leads School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA) academic initiatives emphasizing community-based research, sponsored programs, and government leadership and management development initiatives. Leisha is Principal Investigator for a multi-million dollar research portfolio, engaging faculty and graduate students in all research phases.
Professor LaRiviere is Director of the graduate certificate in Government and Nonprofit Organizations, and teaches in the Center for Public Administration & Policy (CPAP). Courses taught include personnel-related processes and policies, public management behavioral skills, management systems, and graduate student capstone projects. Working cross-functionally with faculty in Blacksburg, the National Capital Region (Alexandria and Arlington), and Richmond, Leisha develops public partnerships, strategic research opportunities, and special lecture series.
Professor LaRivere is the Director of the Virginia Management Fellows (VMF) program, an innovative training partnership with SPIA and the Commonwealth of Virginia. Leisha also leads the Virginia Public Sector Leader (VPSL) program, a theory-to-practice management and leadership program designed for state agencies and NGOs. Leisha directs the Master of Public Administration (MPA) Mentoring Program for CPAP Richmond, and facilitates graduate assistant-ships and internship opportunities. Experienced in nonprofit organizational development and policy advocacy, Leisha is a former President & CEO of a major regional nonprofit. where she successfully advocated Virginia’s General Assembly for community land trust development law. Leisha currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Urban Land Institute (ULI) of Virginia, on the Board of Directors of the Virginia Leadership Advisory Council, and is a Leadership Metro Richmond Graduate.
Her research interests include: policy and practice in government and NGO professional development; organizational theory and context; and, facilitative and participative leadership. Leisha is a PhD candidate in public administration and policy, and holds a Master of Public Administration degree from Virginia Tech. Her BS in general business and merchandising is from the University of Montevallo.
Emily ElliottState Liaison to the VMF Program
Emily Elliott is the Director for the Department of Human Resources Management (https://www.dhrm.virginia.gov/) and was appointed by Governor Northam in August 2018. Emily has worked in state government for the past 27 years having been in a variety of positions at the Virginia Department of Transportation in the field of Human Resources and Civil Rights. On a national level, Emily chaired the Human Resources Subcommittee for the American Association of State and Highway Transportation Officials and served as a founding steering committee member for the Southeast Transportation Workforce Center at the University of Memphis. Emily holds a Master’s in Education and Human Development from the George Washington University and an undergraduate degree in Business Administration and Marketing. She is certified as a Human Resources Senior Professional. Director Elliott serves as the State Liaison to the Virginia Management Fellows program.
Connor WinsteadAdministrative Coordinator
Connor Winstead has served as an Administrative Coordinator in the Richmond Campus of the School of Public and International Affairs since 2020. He provides leadership and administrative support to the Virginia Management Fellows (VMF) program, as well as the Center for Public Administration and Policy. A member of the inaugural VMF cohort, Connor served in rotations at the Department of Planning and Budget, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and the State Corporation Commission. Former roles include property management operations and local government in North Carolina. Connor holds a BA in History and Government from Hampden-Sydney College and an MPA from the University of North Carolina.
Cecily Rodriguez Manager of Applied Research for SPIA - Richmond Campus
Cecily Rodriguez has been developing, implementing, and evaluating programs and services that seek to reduce service delivery barriers and increased health outcomes for underserved populations for more than twenty-five years. In Cecily’s current position in the School of Public and International Affairs, she helps guide SPIA’s research and program development related to public sector leadership and governance, capacity building for culturally and linguistically relevant services, and outreach to students, faculty, local and state government partners. Cecily’s most recent role was in management of the growth and operations of the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrant’s Division of Refugee Health. She was responsible for the executive management of health coverage and health plan administration, health assessment and screening programs, and mental health and wellness programs.
During previous service to the Commonwealth, Cecily was the Director of the Office of Health Equity Advancement and Workforce Development at the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services. At DBHDS, she was responsible for developing the system’s capacity to provide culturally and linguistically appropriate services. Additionally, Cecily led the agency’s workforce development initiatives and was also the principle author and lead faculty for the agency’s senior leadership development curricula, SystemLEAD. She has a degree in political science with a minor in international relations from Virginia Commonwealth University and a Master’s in Public Administration from Virginia Tech.
Her community work includes a role as the Director of Communications for the Richmond Region Council #4614 League of United Latin American Citizens and board member of the Health Brigade, a Richmond area free health clinic.
Amanda FawkesProgram Coordinator (SPIA)
Amanda Fawkes is a Program Coordinator in the School of Public and International Affairs. She provides leadership for the business and administrative operations for programs based at the Richmond, VA campus. In addition, Amanda leads efforts for events and programs associated with the Ridenour Faculty Fellowship. She is also a liaison for the Nonprofit and Nongovernmental Management Graduate Certificate. Amanda joined Virginia Tech in September 2007 and her immediate past positions managed business affairs for the Global Forum on Urban and Regional Resilience, and the Office of the Senior Fellow for Resource Development.
Mehrzad BoroujerdiDirector, School of Public and International Affairs at Virginia Tech
Mehrzad Boroujerdi is Director of the School of Public and International Affairs at Virginia Tech. From 1992 to 2019, he was a professor of Political Science at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.
Dr. Boroujerdi is the author of Iranian Intellectuals and the West: The Tormented Triumph of Nativism (Syracuse University Press, 1996), and I Carved, Worshiped and Shattered: Essays on Iranian Politics and Identity [in Persian] (Nashr-e Negah-e Mo`aser, 2010). He is also the co-author of Postrevolutionary Iran: A Political Handbook (Syracuse University Press, 2018), and editor of Mirror for the Muslim Prince: Islam and Theory of Statecraft (Syracuse University Press, 2013). In addition, he has authored more than thirty journal articles and book chapters in English and Persian.
Dr. Boroujerdi has also been a visiting scholar at UCLA’s Center for Near Eastern Studies (2017-18), President of the Association for Iranian Studies (2012-2014), member of the board of directors of the Near East Foundation (2010-19), co-founder of the Iran Data Portal (2009-present), a non-resident scholar at the Middle East Institute in Washington, D.C. (2005-16), the book review editor of the International Journal of Middle East Studies (2000-07), a Rockefeller Foundation Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin (1991-92), and a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard University (1991-92).
Mehrzad Boroujerdi is Director of the School of Public and International Affairs at Virginia Tech. He is the author of Iranian Intellectuals and the West: The Tormented Triumph of Nativism (Syracuse University Press, 1996), co-author of Postrevolutionary Iran: A Political Handbook (Syracuse University Press, 2018), and editor of Mirror for the Muslim Prince: Islam and Theory of Statecraft (Syracuse University Press, 2013).