Virginia Tech®home

Eric Johnston '06

Alumni Leader Spotlight

Eric Johnston '06

Director of Federal Government Affairs, Marriott International

Eric Johnston is a Brooklyn-bred and Virginia-educated family man with a passion for politics and supporting the next generation of leaders. His unorthodox career journey began in preparation for a career in the world of finance. After earning his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business, his plans were derailed by the Great Recession in 2008. Soon thereafter he met Major Riddick, a fellow Hokie and well known Maryland political powerhouse, at a barbershop in the D.C. area. That critical relationship introduced Eric to lobbying and public affairs. He never looked back. During his 12 year career, he has worked as a multi-client lobbyist and in-house lobbyist for both Coca-Cola and Marriott. Eric now leads the Marriott International federal government affairs team as their chief lobbyist on Capitol Hill. 


How Virginia Tech equipped me for the 'real world'...
Virginia Tech taught me that "Ut Prosim" is more than just a motto. I was fortunate to be mentored by many that lifted me up as they climbed. I now live with that sense of purpose through service.

Best part of being a Virginia Tech alum...
The network! I am a living testimony to the power of the Virginia Tech alumni network. I would have never been introduced to my career field and supported by so many Hokies while navigating my career if it wasn't for this amazing network of service-minded individuals.

Words of encouragement to a current Virginia Tech student...
Be flexible. Your degree doesn't require you to work in a specific field. It's a tool that allows you to take on the challenges of the workforce. We're taught to think linearly as it relates to our college experience, our degree, and eventually our career. But, please know that the real world is not linear, and that you're the master of your own fate.

Best advice I've gotten…
"Learn to disagree without being disagreeable" - Former Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Miller (Longest serving State Senate President in U.S. History)

Biggest misconception about my job or industry...
I think the biggest misconception is that lobbying is a shady business. We're a heavily regulated and First Amendment protected industry. The right to "...petition the Government for a redress of grievances" is a cornerstone of our democracy. Every industry and every profession has an advocate that represents their interests on the federal, state, and local level.

A cause I'm most passionate about...
I'm most passionate about serving and supporting the next generation of leaders. I use all of my organizational affiliations and leadership positions as a way to either directly or indirectly support those in my peer group and those coming up behind me.

A person who has inspired me...
I am currently in awe of my wife, Cara Johnston. She is successfully building a thriving social media strategy business while juggling our home life with poise and grace. She inspires me to be the best husband and father possible.

My no-fail, go-for-it motivational song…
The Ruler's Back by Jay-Z

My favorite quote…
"If you want to go fast, go alone...If you want to go far, go together"


Media Contact:
Lindsey Haugh (540) 231-6959
lhaugh@vt.edu