Leadership and Administration
Inaugural Vice President and Executive Director
Lance Collins is the inaugural vice president and executive director of the Virginia Tech Innovation Campus, which was announced by the university as part of the state’s successful effort to attract Amazon’s HQ2 to Northern Virginia. In this role, he provides strategic direction for the Innovation Campus (see the campus Strategic Plan), helping to build a campus that will impart a lasting influence on the region’s tech ecosystem.
Collins joined Virginia Tech in August 2020 from Cornell University where he served as the Joseph Silbert Dean of Engineering for 10 years. He was also part of the leadership team that successfully bid to partner with New York City to build Cornell Tech, which opened its Roosevelt Island campus in 2017. As the engineering dean at Cornell, Collins led one of the largest capital campaigns in the college’s history. He also accelerated efforts to diversify the college’s faculty and student body: During his tenure, the proportion of underrepresented minority students increased from 8 to 19 percent and the undergraduate female enrollment from 33 to 50 percent. Collins was elected as a member of the National Academy of Engineering in February 2021, in recognition of his leadership in engineering, and contributions to the diversity of the profession.
Prior to Cornell, Collins spent 11 years as an assistant professor, associate professor, and professor of chemical engineering at Penn State University. Collins earned a bachelor’s degree in 1981 at Princeton University and a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in 1987 at the University of Pennsylvania, all in chemical engineering.
Collins serves as a member of the President’s Cabinet at Virginia Tech, regularly reports to the University Board of Visitors, and maintains a faculty appointment in the Virginia Tech Department of Mechanical Engineering. Collins collaborates with a wide “matrix” of Virginia Tech administrators in the planning and execution of the Innovation Campus that includes the senior leadership of the College of Engineering.
Chief Operating Officer
Ken Smith joined the Virginia Tech Innovation Campus team as chief operating officer in October 2020. In his current role, Smith oversees and coordinates all aspects of administration and finance in the development of the new Innovation Campus organization and its related facilities.
Smith has been part of Virginia Tech since 1997. Prior to his appointment as COO, Smith served as vice provost for academic resource management and led budget and financial planning for three Provosts over 18 years. He was the principal developer of the university’s academic performance budgeting model and the data approaches that support it. Before coming to the Provost’s Office, Smith served as assistant director for budget operations in the Virginia Tech Office of Budget and Financial Planning and as a budget analyst in the Commerce, Resources and Trade section of the Virginia Department of Planning and Budget.
Smith holds a Ph.D. in educational leadership and policy studies from Virginia Tech. He earned both a master’s degree in public administration and a bachelor’s degree in political science from Virginia Commonwealth University.
In his role as COO for the Innovation Campus, Smith collaborates with the offices of the Interim SVP and Chief Business Officer Chris Kiwus, and with finance leaders in that division including VP for Finance Ken Miller and AVP for Budget and Financial Planning Tim Hodge. He collaborates with staff in the office of the EVP and Provost Cyril Clarke, including Executive Vice Provost Don Taylor and Vice Provost for Academic Resource Management Jeff Earley. He also works closely with the staff in the Campus Planning and Infrastructure and Facilities Division on execution of the Innovation Campus Academic Building I capital project, including AVP for Campus Planning Capital Financing Bob Broyden, University Architect Liza Morris, Supervising Project Manager Travis Jesse and D.C. Project Manager Redha Gheraba.
Division Director of Human Resources
Marlesa Adams is the division director of human resources for the Innovation Campus and Virginia Tech in the D.C. metro area. She focuses on advancing HR processes, practices, and recruiting to support the development of the Innovation Campus. Following an initial focus on the Innovation Campus, Adams will work with other HR directors, local HR practitioners, and university leadership to build and reinforce an HR community of practices to support Virginia Tech’s presence in the D.C. metro area.
Adams has more than 10 years of human resources experience in leadership consultation and organizational development, talent acquisition, and employee relations. She most recently served in the Georgetown University Department of Human Resources as university director of HR, organizational development, where she oversaw the areas of HR client services and learning and development. Prior to Georgetown, Adams was as a consultant for MEA Consulting Group where she partnered with a range of clients on strategic human resource management issues and initiatives. In addition to her human resources roles, Adams served in several higher education administrative and chief of staff roles, including chief of staff to the vice president for development and alumni relations at George Washington University and director of administration for the Harvard University Office of the Vice President for Public Affairs and Communications.
Adams has a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a MS in Training and Organizational Development from Lesley University.
Adams is part of the Division of Human Resources, headed by Vice President for Human Resources Bryan Garey, and works closely with leaders within the Division of Human Resources and across the greater D.C. Metro region on a range of human resource priorities and initiatives.
Director of Government and Community Affairs
David Baker, who is based in Alexandria, is director of government and community affairs for the Innovation Campus. He is focused on supporting campus leadership as they work with Alexandria residents and key stakeholders to launch the new campus.
Baker joined Virginia Tech from George Washington University where he served as director of Virginia Government Relations since 2014. Baker developed the first GW in Virginia Economic Impact Study, quantifying the university’s investments across four communities in Virginia. In addition, he partnered with the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences and Alexandria City Public Schools to develop the first public-private, dual-enrollment partnership in Virginia. The health sciences partnership was recognized as a Governor’s Health Sciences Academy in 2018.
Prior to that position, Baker worked in federal and state government affairs for several organizations in Northern Virginia, including the Northern Virginia Technology Council. He graduated from The University of Mary Washington with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, and he earned his master’s degree of public policy from The George Washington University.
Baker is part of the Virginia Tech Office of Government and Community Relations, headed by Vice President Chris Yianilos. He works closely with Chris and Rebekah Gunn on federal issues, and Elizabeth Hooper and Caroline Buscaglia on state issues.
Principal Gift Officer
Tracy Church, principal gifts officer, contributes significant experience, leadership, and creativity in the field of philanthropy to the Innovation Campus.
Prior to joining the Innovation Campus, Church planned and executed a turnaround for the George Washington University Medical Alumni Development team that resulted in a 66% increase in funding.
Church is most proud of her work at Children’s National Medical, where she was instrumental in creating a culture of philanthropy throughout the hospital and raised more than $85 million to advance science and dramatically increase philanthropic funding that made specialized institutes in Nursing Research, Brain Tumors, and Rare Diseases, among many others, possible.
Prior to Children’s National, she directed the development team for the Johns Hopkins Heart Institute and raised $30 million to advance heart care for adults and build the Sheikh Zayed Critical Care Tower.
Church completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Florida and her MBA from Johns Hopkins University.
Church is part of the Virginia Tech Advancement team led by Vice President Charles Phlegar and works closely with Natalie Hart, Andrea Koslow, Rachel Grahe, Palmer Korn, and Kelsey Isaacs to raise the financial support needed to build the Innovation Campus and support its academic mission.
Director, Communications and Marketing
Franki Fitterer, director of communications and marketing, brings more than two decades of experience in higher education external relations to the Innovation Campus. She oversees communications strategy, media relations, and marketing and branding for the Innovation Campus, including its website and social media.
Fitterer came to Virginia Tech from American University, where she was director of public relations and marketing at AU’s Washington College of Law for 13 years. Her experience at AU included leading the implementation of a new school-wide brand strategy and directing communications and marketing for the law school’s move to a new 8.5 acre, three-building campus in Northwest Washington, D.C. Fitterer’s work on the project started in 2013 with the promotion of the groundbreaking, and continued through the construction process, fundraising efforts, city-wide advertising campaign, final ribbon-cutting celebration, and promotion of the campus for student recruitment.
Prior to AU, Fitterer was the associate director for marketing and communications at California Western School of Law in San Diego. She has a B.A. in Communication (Journalism) from the University of San Francisco and an M.A. in Political Science from American University's School of Public Affairs.
Fitterer is part of the Virginia Tech Department of University Relations, headed by Associate Vice President Tracy Vosburgh. She works closely with Michael Stowe and Shannon Andrea on communications and media relations, and Heather Ducote on enrollment marketing and branding.
Delores Gibson serves as the executive assistant to the vice president and executive director, Dr. Lance Collins, as well as manages the day to day operations of the Innovation Campus. Prior to joining the Innovation Campus, she worked as assistant director of operations for the Institute for Information Infrastructure Protection (The I3P) at The George Washington University.
Gibson earned a BA from the University of Pennsylvania, where she also supported the School of Engineering and Applied Science in various managerial roles.
Director, K-12 Programs
Pamela Gilchrist, director of K-12 Programs for the Innovation Campus, brings 20 years of experience in developing multidisciplinary K-12 programs across the United States and within the public schools of North Carolina. Through partnerships, including with the Alexandria City Public Schools, Gilchrist enhances the Innovation Campus mission to inspire young people to pursue STEM education.
Gilchrist is the former director of The Science House’s Anderson and Imhotep Academies at North Carolina State University. The programs she directed at North Carolina State were geared toward providing K-12 science, technology, engineering, and mathematics programming (STEM) for underrepresented and underserved populations. She was responsible for the oversight, development, and evaluation of synchronous and asynchronous STEM programs for students, teachers, and parents across the state of North Carolina.
Gilchrist is an advocate for equity and has served as a leader in multiple organizations, including as past president of both the North Carolina Science Leadership Association and the North Carolina Science Fair Foundation. She has also served internationally as a science and technology educator in the United Kingdom.
Her research interests are in STEM programs, equity, teacher professional development, curriculum development, workforce development, adoption of innovations, and multidisciplinary partnerships. Gilchrist has developed and presented workshops across North and Central America, Europe, and East Asia. She also has numerous publications that inform research and practice communities. Gilchrist has also garnered a number of grants for her programs from public agencies such as the National Science Foundation and from private foundations totaling in the millions of dollars.
Gilchrist holds a Ph.D. in educational research and policy analysis, an M.S. in instructional technology, and a B.S. in middle grades education.
At Virginia Tech, Gilchrist partners across the broader university and organizations to provide pathways in STEM and to higher learning with the School of Education, the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology, the Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Diversity the Center for Educational Networks and Impacts, the College Access Collaborative, 4-H, the Department of Engineering Education, and Link-License-Launch.
Danette Gomez Beane
Assistant Vice Provost for Enrollment Management for Strategic Initiatives
Dannette Gomez Beane serves as assistant vice provost for enrollment management for strategic initiatives for Virginia Tech. Her work focuses on graduate enrollment and degree goals for the Tech Talent Investment Program, which includes the Innovation Campus.
Previously, Gomez Beane served as director of operations in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions at Virginia Tech. She has also worked as director of graduate recruiting and diversity initiatives for the Virginia Tech Graduate School and as career and outreach coordinator for the Virginia Tech College of Architecture and Urban Studies.
Gomez Beane has held several positions in public service such as a presidentially appointed university inclusion coordinator, community counselor, and employment specialist for Total Action for Progress and the Department of Social Services, assistant director at College Summit, Inc. and program leader for the Boys and Girls Club of America. She began her career in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions at Hollins University.
She holds a bachelor’s degree from Hollins University and master’s degree and a doctorate in counselor education from Virginia Tech.
As part of the Virginia Tech Graduate Enrollment Management team, Gomez Beane collaborates with the Graduate School, all Academic Colleges, the Office of the Executive Vice Provost, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Marketing and Communications, Continuing and Professional Education, and the Division of IT.
Assistant Vice President for Innovation Campus Student Services
Robin Jones serves as assistant vice president for Innovation Campus student services. At the Innovation Campus, Jones collaborates with campus partners to expand and manage academic and student services for Virginia Tech students who are enrolled in the university’s graduate programs in the greater Washington, D.C., metro area.
Prior to joining the Innovation Campus, Jones worked as assistant provost for planning and resource management at Virginia Tech, and she held leadership positions within the Division of Student Affairs.
At the Innovation Campus, Jones collaborates with campus partners to expand and manage academic and student services for Virginia Tech students who are enrolled in the university’s graduate programs in the greater Washington, D.C., metro area.
Prior to Virginia Tech, Jones was assistant to the vice president for administration, operations, and assessment at Humboldt State University. She also previously worked in student affairs at the University of South Alabama and Armstrong Atlantic State University (now Georgia Southern University).
Jones received a B.S. from the University of North Georgia and has graduate degrees from both Texas A&M- Central Texas and Georgia Southern University. She earned a doctorate from The University of Alabama.
In her role as AVP for student services, Jones collaborates with various Executive Vice President and Provost areas to include enrollment management, academic affairs, the Graduate School, and student affairs as well as the College of Engineering.
Principal Partnership Officer
Andrea Koslow joined Virginia Tech as the new principal partnership officer for the Innovation Campus in December 2021. She forms and executes highly strategic partnerships with industry and executive leaders to establish ongoing, mutually reinforcing programs across cutting-edge research, project-based learning, talent pipelines, and innovation.
Koslow previously served as vice president and executive director of the Washington Media Scholars Foundation where she partnered with America’s top media companies to provide job skills, mentorship, and scholarships to undergraduate students seeking to join the media industry. Her leadership in fundraising, high-level volunteer management, operations, and marketing/communications was instrumental to the organization’s 40 percent year-over-year growth.
Koslow was previously senior director of national brand strategy and marketing production for Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). At PBS, she pioneered a strategic brand health practice, developed a strategy for audience and donor targeting, and launched the organization’s rebranding in 2016. She also served as executive director, brand and creative marketing at the National American Red Cross for 10 years. Koslow earned a bachelor’s degree from Furman University and a master’s in film and video production at the American University School of Communication. She has served as an adjunct professor at American University since 2013, and at Georgetown University since 2016.
Koslow is an extension of Virginia Tech’s Link + License + Launch corporate relations team in Northern Virginia. She works closely with Brandy Salmon, associate vice president for innovation and partnerships, to support all aspects of corporate partnerships for the Innovation Campus.