Meet our faculty, staff and partners

Leisha G. LaRiviere
Leisha G. LaRiviereAssociate Director, SPIA Richmond and VMF Director

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). 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 LaRiviere 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 assistantships and internship opportunities. 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 Elliott
Emily ElliottState Liaison to the VMF

Emily Elliott is the Director for the Department of Human Resources Management 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.

Cecily Peeples Rodriguez
Cecily Peeples RodriguezManager of Applied Research - SPIA Richmond campus

Cecily has been developing, implementing, and evaluating programs and services that seek to reduce service delivery barriers and increase equitable outcomes for more than twenty-five years. At SPIA, she is responsible for designing equity related projects and research, revising and further developing learning and training material and supporting the management of research initiatives related to public sector leadership and governance. Current projects include the development of an Integrated Model of Economic, Environmental, and Social Programs in a public agency and an Equity and Inclusion Assessment and Readiness Project for an international NGO. She came to Virginia Tech from the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) where she was the Director of Refugee Health Services Division. She was responsible for executive leadership of grant and contract-related planning with budgets totaling more than $30 million annually. 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 led the agency’s response to disparities in behavioral health and developmental services. Cecily’s other hat in the agency was as the lead planner for the agency’s succession planning strategies. Cecily is a recognized equity and diversity expert with national certification as a Certified Diversity Executive (CDE). She is the Vice President of Communications for the League of United Latin American Citizens Richmond Region Council #4614, serves on the National Network for the Elimination of Disparities (NNED) Steering Committee, on the Board of the Health Brigade, a free clinic serving the greater Richmond area.

Amanda Fawkes
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 and works with the Director of the School of Public and International Affairs on special projects and initiatives. Amanda leads efforts to coordinate events and programs associated with the Ridenour Faculty Fellowship and the SPIA Applied Lab, a professional practice environment for Virginia Tech Ph.D. students. Amanda has served as a teaching consultant and facilitator for courses in public budgeting and financial management at Virginia Tech and is the coordinator for the Nonprofit and Nongovernmental Management Graduate Certificate and the Public and Nonprofit Financial Management certificate in SPIA. Joining the Virginia Tech community in 2007, Amanda has worked across several areas of the university executive administration. 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. Amanda completed her Master of Public Administration degree and Graduate Certificate in Public and Nonprofit Financial Management at Virginia Tech. She completed her undergraduate studies at Laurentian University in Canada with a Bachelor of Health and Physical Education. Prior to working at Virginia Tech, Amanda worked for six years as a Wilderness Group Leader and Family Worker at the New Dominion School for Boys. Amanda is the Treasurer and member of the Board of Directors for the Virginia Branch of the International Dyslexia Association.

Camden South
Camden SouthOffice & Student Experience Manager - Richmond campus

Camden South is the Office & Student Experience Manager (OSEM) for the School of Public & International Affairs (SPIA) on the Richmond campus. As OSEM, Camden is responsible for daily management, organization, and coordination of the administrative activities and procedures of the SPIA Richmond Campus. Supporting, coordinating, and participating in faculty research activities is also a part of Camden’s role. Past research activities include service as SPIA Richmond research personnel on two strategic planning efforts for the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services and Virginia Tech’s College of Architecture and Urban Studies. Camden’s OSESM role includes student services for Virginia Tech’s Center for Public Administration and Policy (CPAP). Previously, Camden interned for the Alexandria Department of Recreation, Parks, and Cultural Activities, giving him the opportunity to learn about the intersectionality of people and the planned, built environment. Camden began his Master of Public Administration degree program with CPAP. SPIA Richmond faculty and staff look forward to Camden’s MPA degree defense in Spring of 2021.

Jennifer Quam-Howell
Jennifer Quam-HowellSpecial Projects Coordinator

Jennifer Quam-Howell is Special Projects Coordinator for Virginia Tech’s School of Public & International Affairs on the Richmond campus. Jennifer has a twenty-year career in the hospitality, catering, event production, and event-management industry. Previous roles include Director of Sales at Blue Ridge Catering in Roanoke, Virginia and the Senior Event Designer at Catering by Design in Denver, Colorado. Jenn is committed to public service with a people-focused orientation. She was appointed Social Chair for the Queensmill Recreation Association Board in 2019, serving a three-year term. Jenn holds a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies with Minors in Communications and Sociology from Virginia Tech, and an A.S. in Culinary Arts from Johnson & Wales University, Denver Campus. Jenn is a graduate student in the Virginia Tech Nonprofit and N.G.O. Management Certificate program. Originally from Roanoke, Jenn lives in the Richmond area with her husband of 14 years, Paul, with their three sons and three dogs.

Andrea Briceno – Mosquera
Andrea Briceno – Mosquera Postdoctoral Associate - Richmond campus

Andrea Briceno – Mosquera was appointed as a Postdoctoral Associate for the School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA) on the Richmond campus. The Postdoc role focuses on quantitative and qualitative analysis protocols related to original research of the SPIA Richmond Principal Investigator. The research includes implementation science studies and longitudinal evaluation of succession management activities in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Andrea holds her Ph.D. in Public Administration and Public Affairs at the Center for Public Administration and Policy (CPAP) at Virginia Tech. In both her academic and professional trajectories, she has focused on quantitative and qualitative analyses examining policy-making processes and evaluations from an equity and inclusion approach. She has taught courses in economic foundations and policy design and served as a research program coordinator at private Colombian universities. During her professional work with the Colombian government at the national and local levels, she evaluated policies aimed to address several needs from minority groups. At the international level, she interned at the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington D.C., supporting the evaluation of projects addressing practices of inclusion, diversity, and equity across Latin American countries. Andrea was named a 2019 Equity and Inclusion Fellow of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management (APPAM).
Andrea holds a master’s degree in Government and Public Policy from the Externado University of Colombia in partnership with the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) of Columbia University, NY, and a bachelor’s degree in Economics from the National University of Colombia.

Yousof Azizi
Yousof AziziGraduate Research Assistant - Richmond campus

Yousof Azizi is a PhD Candidate in Virginia Tech’s Center for Public Administration and Policy, serving as the Graduate Research Assistant (GRA) for the School of Public and International Affairs on the Richmond campus. As GRA, Yousof’s research focus is a multi-site, multi-tiered, multi-phase longitudinal study of the Virginia Public Sector Leader program (VPSL) training intervention in a large state agency. Simultaneously, Yousof is working on his dissertation about U.S. foreign policy decision-making, presidential studies, and Iran’s nuclear program. Yousof’s writings about “President Trump’s Iran Policy” appear in Encyclopedia of the American Presidency (4th ed.) as well as International Affairs Review. In summer 2021, Yousof was a lecturer of PAPA 6214: Public Policy Process, one of the core requirements for the MPA program at Virginia Tech Center for Public Administration and Policy (CPAP). Yousof is a past Research Assistant for the Belfer Center at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. In 2015, Yousof graduated with a Master of Public Policy (MPP) from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. He is also a graduate of Sharif University of Technology in Tehran, Iran, both in BSc and MSc of chemical engineering. His primary area of interest was energy policy and security. Yousof Azizi is a PhD Candidate in Public Administration/Public Affairs at Virginia Tech’s School of Public & International Affairs.

Mehrzad Boroujerdi
Mehrzad BoroujerdiDirector of the School of Public and International Affairs

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).