Researcher focuses on succession, employee management in government agencies

Virginia Public Sector Leader participants and LaRiviere. Photo courtesy of Upfilmworks.

“For some citizens, government agencies provide their only access to life sustaining services. A weak leadership bench — one that is not populated with a pool of trained, prepared employees — negatively impacts the continuity of operations and services,” said Leisha LaRiviere, associate director of the School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA) in Richmond. “So building and sustaining a strong leadership bench is imperative.”

In the past three-and-a-half years, LaRiviere has garnered, and serves as principal investigator on, more than $4 million in sponsored research grants that focus on strategic succession management and employee engagement in organizational planning. Her research portfolio enabled the development and building of the new Richmond academic campus and continues to sustain it.

Read the entire article published in Virginia Tech Daily. 

News Release: SCHEV Insights: Historic Trends in Distance Learning

Contact:
Laura Osberger
lauraosberger@schev.edu
(804) 387-5191 (cell)

February 23, 2021

RICHMOND — The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) today released a new analysis on historic trends in distance learning.

When most Virginia colleges and universities transitioned to remote learning, either fully or via a hybrid model of instruction, for the fall 2020 semester because of the COVID-19, SCHEV sought to analyze distance learning trends prior to the pandemic using SCHEV’s “Distance Education Trends at Virginia Institutions” report. These data provided a baseline of “face-to-face” (F2F) learning trends from 1995-2019.

Key Takeaways

Even before COVID-19, the percentage of F2F students was decreasing across the Commonwealth.
Less than half of FTE students in 2019 were F2F with some sectors, institutions and programs experiencing more change than others.
The fastest growing mode of instruction is among hybrid students who take a mixture of F2F and distance learning courses. Two thirds of hybrid students take six credits or fewer distance learning courses.
Some institutions are rapidly switching to distance learning (Liberty) while others have been almost 100% F2F since 1995 (VMI, W&M).
As decreases in F2F and increases in distance learning continue, closing the digital divide becomes even more important. A previous Insight post on Virginia’s Digital Divide in Education found that one in five Virginia students (K-12 and college) lack either high speed internet or a computer in their home. Governor Northam convened a COVID-19 Education Work Group that addressed this divide through increasing access and making technology and broadband more affordable. On an institutional level, schools can ensure all students have access to the distance learning they need. Virginia State University (VSU) leveraged CARES funds and private donations to provide $500 technology stipends to students so they could buy a computer with technology that worked best for them.
It remains to be seen exactly how greatly COVID-19 will affect F2F learning for the 2020-2021 school year.
“It will be interesting to revisit these data a year and even five years from now,” said Elizabeth Spach, a Virginia Management Fellow interning at SCHEV and the Insights author, “when the long-term effects of COVID on distance learning are realized.”

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The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia is the state’s coordinating agency for higher education. With Pathways to Opportunity: The Virginia Plan for Higher Education, SCHEV is dedicated to making Virginia the best state for education by 2030. For more on this statewide strategic plan, visit schev.edu/TheVirginiaPlan.

Governor Northam Launches Application for Second Cohort of Virginia Management Fellows

~Developed in conjunction with Virginia Tech, program aimed at preparing next generation of government leaders~

For Immediate Release: November 26, 2018
Contacts: Office of the Governor: Ofirah Yheskel, Ofirah.Yheskel@governor.virginia.gov | Office of the Secretary of Finance: June Jennings, Deputy Secretary of Finance, June.Jennings@governor.virginia.gov

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced the application launch for the second Virginia Management Fellows (VMF) cohort. The program is an initiative of the Commonwealth of Virginia developed in partnership with Virginia Tech to meet the state’s needs for future leaders. Recent (or May 2019) undergraduate, Master’s, or Ph.D. graduates who are dedicated to serving the citizens of Virginia are eligible to apply.

“Today, I am pleased to announce that applications for the second class of Virginia Management Fellows are now open,” said Governor Northam. “Virginia is fortunate to have a smart and dedicated state workforce that is recognized for its excellence across the nation, and we are committed to cultivating the next generation of public servants to grow our leadership capacity. Knowing the strengths of the current Virginia Management Fellows, I look forward to the many contributions that this second cohort will bring to the Commonwealth as they work, learn, and serve during their fellowship.”

The General Assembly approved the learning program, salary, and benefit structure of the VMF. The program aims to create a succession pipeline for leadership and management jobs in all branches of state government that will be in high demand as current employees begin to retire. According to recent data from the Commonwealth, 42 percent of general managers, 39 percent of financial managers, and 30 percent of compliance and safety officers will be eligible for retirement within the next five years.

“The VMF program is comprehensive in its approach,” said Secretary of Finance Aubrey Layne. “A general concept of the VMF is future leaders learning from current leaders. We have a great roster of agencies participating in this program who deploy multiple leaders to support and encourage the professional growth of our Fellows.”

The program’s state liaison, Deputy Secretary of Finance June Jennings, works with finance colleagues, state agencies, executive cabinet members, legislators, and faculty members from Virginia Tech’s School of Public and International Affairs in support of the program implementation.

“This second cohort of the VMF program is an important next step in Virginia’s efforts to develop management and leadership talent,” said Deputy Secretary June Jennings. “The contributions, energy, research and direct service of the current VMF demonstrate the value of investment in these next-generation leaders who are learning and getting things done for the state.”

Fellows are employed in a two-year leadership and management development certificate program with a cutting-edge approach to state leadership learning. The position includes salary and full benefits. At the end of the fellowship period, fellows will be able to apply for high-demand positions within state government.

“Virginia Tech’s School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA) is honored to be a partner in this innovative program to develop public service leadership for the Commonwealth through hands-on learning, coursework, mentoring, outstanding faculty, and more,” said Leisha LaRiviere, associate director for the School of Public and International Affairs at Virginia Tech (Richmond campus).

The program features four major learning components: customer service; operations; legislation, regulation, and compliance; and analytics. Each fellow is assigned to and embedded within a state agency for a rotation around these learning areas. A special feature of the rotation is the support and guidance of a mentor-leader.

Participating agencies include Virginia’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, Department of Conservation and Recreation, Department of Criminal Justice Services, Virginia Department of Health, Department of Human Resources Management, Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission, Department of Motor Vehicles, Department of Planning and Budget, Department of Taxation, Department of the Treasury, Senate Finance Committee, State Corporation Commission, State Council of Higher Education in Virginia, and the Virginia Retirement System.

In addition to the agency rotations and mentor training, Virginia Management Fellows will research, study, and understand public administration theories and processes through seminars and lectures designed specifically for the Commonwealth. Fellows learn public administration management and leadership theory and practice in a leadership development program certificate earned across the two-year fellowship program. The educational elements of the program are designed, researched, tested, and implemented by faculty from the School of Public and International Affairs in Virginia Tech’s College of Architecture and Urban Studies.

The Virginia Management Fellows application can be found here. The deadline to complete the online application is December 7, 2018.

To learn more about the Fellows program, visit https://vmf.spia.vt.edu/ or contact Leisha LaRiviere, director of the VMF program and associate director of SPIA on the Richmond campus, at llariviere@vt.edu.

Governor McAuliffe Announces New Virginia Management Fellows

~Program prepares next generation of government leaders; developed in conjunction with Virginia Tech~

From L-R: Deputy Secretary of Finance June Jennings, VMF Program Director Leisha LaRiviere, Governor Terry McAulliffe, Policy Director, Office of the Governor Jennie O’Holleran, and Secretary of Finance Ric Brown

For Immediate Release: January 11, 2018
Contacts: Office of the Governor: Brian Coy, (804) 225-4260, Brian.Coy@governor.virginia.gov
RICHMOND – Governor Terry McAuliffe today announced the inaugural cohort of the Virginia Management Fellows program. The program is an initiative of the Commonwealth of Virginia developed with Virginia Tech to meet the state’s needs for future leaders.
“I am pleased to introduce the eleven new Virginia Management Fellows to the Commonwealth today,” said Governor McAuliffe. “Virginia is fortunate to have these talented and dedicated Fellows serve in continuance of our success building the new Virginia economy. I look forward to seeing this first class of fellows work with their agencies, mentors, and professors to grow into leaders who will share their talents and new skills to help ensure Virginia’s strong future.”

The General Assembly approved the learning program, salary, and benefit structure of the VMF. The program’s principal leader, Secretary of Finance Ric Brown, worked with finance colleagues, executive cabinet members, legislators, and faculty members from Virginia Tech’s School of Public and International Affairs to design a comprehensive learning program for the new fellows.

“Over my career in state government I have seen the need for strong succession planning in state government. The VMF program successfully addresses this concern through the development of next-generation leaders,” said Secretary of Finance Ric Brown. “At the end of the 2-year program period, these fellows will enter government leadership roles uniquely qualified to tackle the ‘bigger picture’ issues and practical challenges of state strategic management and leadership. Deputy Secretary of Finance, June Jennings, has been a critical partner in readying the state infrastructure in preparation for arrival of the Fellows today.”

The VMF program aims to create a succession pipeline for leadership and management jobs in all branches of state government that will be in high demand as current employees begin to retire. According to recent data from the Commonwealth, 42 percent of general managers, 39 percent of financial managers, and 30 percent of compliance and safety officers will be eligible for retirement within the next five years.

“The School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA) at Virginia Tech is honored to work with the Governor’s Office, Finance Secretariat and state leaders in the development and implementation of the VMF program benefiting this Fellows cohort, and future cohorts. The design of the program is both cutting-edge and thoughtful in its approach,” said Associate Director of SPIA and VMF Director, Leisha LaRiviere.

The VMF program features four major learning components: customer service; operations; legislation, regulation, and compliance; and analytics. Each fellow is assigned to and embedded within a state agency for a rotation around these learning areas. A special feature of the rotation is the support and guidance of a mentor-leader in each agency supporting a fellow.

In addition to the agency rotations and mentor training, Virginia Management Fellows will research, study, and understand public administration theories and processes in seminars and lectures designed specifically for the Commonwealth. The fellows learn public administration management and leadership theory and practice via a leadership development program certificate earned across the two-year fellowship program. The educational elements of the program are designed, researched, tested, and implemented by faculty from the School of Public and International Affairs in Virginia Tech’s College of Architecture and Urban Studies.

Participating agencies include the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Department of Criminal Justice Services, Virginia Criminal Sentencing Commission, Virginia Department of Health, House Appropriations Committee, Department of Human Resources Management, Department of Motor Vehicles, Department of Planning and Budget, Senate Finance Committee, State Council of Higher Education in Virginia, State Corporation Commission, Virginia Retirement System, Department of Taxation, and Department of the Treasury.

Twenty-two state agency leaders participated in the multi-tiered process to select the Fellows.

Below is a list of the new Virginia Management Fellows:

  • Jordan Burns, with a Master’s in political science from James Madison University and a Bachelor’s from Virginia Tech
  • Nathan Conquest, with a Bachelor’s in Public Policy and Leadership from the University of Virginia
  • Mary Feamster,  with a Master’s in Counseling from Appalachian State University and a Bachelor’s from the University of Virginia
  • Jacoby Harper, with a Master’s in Public Administration from Virginia Commonwealth University and a Bachelor’s from Virginia State University
  • Bernadette LeMasters, with a Master’s in Environmental Science and Policy from George Mason University and a Bachelor’s from Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Taylor Melton, with a Bachelor’s in Political Science from Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Conor O’Donnell, with a Bachelor’s in Environmental Policy and International Relations from The College of William & Mary
  • Laura Pearson, with a Bachelor’s in the History of Science, Medicine, and Public Health from Yale University
  • Travis Rickman, with a Bachelor’s in Political Science from Old Dominion University
  • Tyler Williams, with a Master’s in Public Policy from the University of Virginia and a Bachelor’s from University of Virginia
  • Connor Winstead, with a Master’s of Public Administration from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and a Bachelor’s from Hampden-Sydney College

ANNOUNCING THE VIRGINIA MANAGEMENT FELLOWS PROGRAM:

From L-R: Deputy Secretary of Finance June Jennings, VMF Program Director Leisha LaRiviere, Governor Terry McAulliffe, Policy Director, Office of the Governor Jennie O’Holleran, and Secretary of Finance Ric Brown