Former Virginia Secretary of Education Joins McGuireWoods Consulting

June 5, 2017

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Fornash to co-lead firm’s National Education Practice

RICHMOND, Va.— McGuireWoods Consulting announced today that Laura W. Fornash, formerVirginia Secretary of Education, has joined the firm as a senior vicepresident and co-leader of its National Education Practice.

A former Virginia secretary of education, Fornash spent more than twodecades in public service prior to joining McGuireWoods Consulting,including leadership roles at two of Virginia’s flagship universities—theUniversity of Virginia and Virginia Tech.

Fornash joins Scott J. Frein, also a senior vice president, in leadingMcGuireWoods Consulting’s National Education Practice, which serves a widerange of public and private entities across the educational continuum fromearly childhood to postsecondary education. The National Education Practicehas the capacity, expertise, and reach to serve clients in all 50 statecapitals and at the federal level in Washington, DC.

“I am excited to be joining such a talented team to help advance theNational Education Practice and serve clients in Virginia and around thecountry,” said Fornash. “The strong partnerships between educationalinstitutions, state and local governments, and the business sector thathave served us so well here in Virginia are a model for the nation.Education is crucial for personal opportunity as well as economic growth,and I look forward to helping our public and private clients promote thosevital goals.”

As Secretary of Education for the Commonwealth of Virginia from 2011-2013,Fornash helped shape and implement state education policy frompre-kindergarten through higher education, providing support and directionto the 16 public colleges and universities, the Virginia Community CollegeSystem, and the Department of Education. In 2010-2011, she served asexecutive director of the Governor’s Commission on Higher Education Reform,Innovation, and Investment, whose recommendations resulted in adoption oflandmark higher education reinvestment and reform legislation in Virginiain 2011. The legislation, known as the “Top Jobs” Act, committed theCommonwealth to conferring 100,000 additional degrees by 2025 with along-term investment strategy that includes greater higher educationinvolvement in economic development, increased degree and credentialattainment in high-demand fields, affordable access, operationalefficiency, enhanced planning, and institutional autonomy.

Most recently, Fornash served as the Executive Assistant to the Presidentfor State Governmental Relations at the University of Virginia, where sheadvised the President and was responsible for advancing the University’spriorities on state governmental matters. Before her appointment asVirginia’s education secretary, she spent 20 years with Virginia Tech invaried roles, including serving as the Restructuring Project Director withresponsibility for managing Virginia Tech’s implementation of the 2005Virginia Higher Education Restructuring Act that created new levels ofoperational autonomy for public higher education institutions in exchangefor meeting certain academic performance measures.

“Laura Fornash has built a career focused on innovation and reform inhigher education policy, from Virginia’s groundbreaking 2005 RestructuringAct to its landmark ‘Top Jobs’ Act of 2011,” said Frank B. Atkinson,chairman of McGuireWoods Consulting. “Virginia is widely recognized as anational leader in higher education policy, and having Laura co-leading ourNational Education Practice will help our firm better serve educationclients across the country, including replicating successful PR andlegislative initiatives such as the Grow By Degrees campaign andcoalition in other states.”

Fornash will co-lead a National Education Practice that was launched lastyear after Scott Frein joined the firm from ACT, Inc. Frein was executivedirector of ACT, Inc.’s Policy, Advocacy, and Government Relations team andhead of its Washington, DC office. Prior to joining ACT, Inc. in 2009, hewas the chief lobbyist for the Council of Chief State School Officers.

“McGuireWoods Consulting has been an education policy leader at the statelevel for a number of years, especially in dynamic areas such as virtualand charter schools, higher education reform, educational technology, andknowledge-based economic development,” said Jim Hodges, a former SouthCarolina governor who becomes president and CEO of MWC in January. “Theadditions of Scott Frein last year and Laura Fornash this month provide ourfast-growing National Education Practice with widely respected leadersexperienced in both K-12 and higher education policy, enhancing ourcapabilities and reach in all 50 states and Washington, DC.”

Founded in 1998, McGuireWoods Consulting LLC is a full-service publicaffairs firm offering government relations, strategic communications &grassroots, and infrastructure and economic development services.McGuireWoods Consulting is a subsidiary of McGuireWoods LLP, a leading internationallaw firm with more than 1,000 lawyers in 20 cities. The National Law Journal’s most recent ranking of more than 1,500federal government relations firms placed McGuireWoods Consulting in thetop 20 for the fifth year in a row. MWC has offices in Washington, D.C.,Richmond, Virginia, McLean, Virginia, Atlanta, Chicago, Raleigh, NorthCarolina, Columbia, South Carolina, Tallahassee, Florida, Springfield,Illinois, Austin, Texas, Brussels, Belgium and Bucharest, Romania. For moreinformation, visit McGuireWoods Consulting’s website