Fairfax, VA – George Mason University President Gregory Washington announced he has formed a new, diverse roundtable of regional business executives and community leaders to provide strategic guidance and advocacy for the university’s Arlington innovation initiative.
The President’s Innovation Advisory Council (PIAC), comprised of forward-thinking executives, signals Mason’s community-centric vision for its Arlington Campus and the emerging Rosslyn-Ballston innovation corridor.
“These council members have been carefully selected for their knowledge and expertise, and also because they represent industries and organizations that are critical to the ecosystem we want to build,” Washington said. “We are bringing together community leaders that have a stake and an interest in helping us create an inclusive innovation economy.”
The President’s Innovation Advisory Council includes executives from a wide range of organizations such as Deltek, Sandy Spring Bank, Dovel Technologies, Verizon, Arlington Public Schools, the Virginia Department of Veterans Services and the NAACP.
The Arlington innovation initiative is Mason’s contribution to the Tech Talent Investment Program (TTIP) – the Commonwealth’s 20-year program designed to produce 25,000 additional graduates in computer science, computer engineering and software engineering. Spurred by Amazon’s decision to locate its new headquarters in Arlington, Virginia launched the TTIP to build and sustain a diverse tech talent pipeline.
As Virginia’s largest and most diverse public university, Mason assumed a leading role in the TTIP effort. The university was granted $235 million from the Virginia General Assembly and will produce approximately thirty percent of the 25,000 new undergraduate and graduate majors who will serve northern Virginia’s and the Commonwealth’s employers, including Amazon. The university will also raise an additional $125 million from philanthropic sources for a total investment of $360 million.
The initiative’s centerpiece will feature a 400,000-square-foot public-private-partnership building that will be structured around research and social impact – driven by the needs and the feedback from the community it serves.
The council will advise the university as it adds a digital innovation research hub for learners, educators, entrepreneurs, innovators and industry partners to its Arlington Campus. Mason’s footprint in Arlington – home to the Antonin Scalia School of Law, the Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution and the Schar School for Policy and Government provides a unique ecosystem for a future innovation district.
“We have a once in a generation opportunity to build an economy for our region that works better for everyone, anchored on technology, data and innovation,” said Aneesh Chopra, who will chair the council. Chopra is President of CareJourney, and served as the Obama administration’s Chief Technology Officer. “I'm eager to collaborate with regional stakeholders to build on George Mason's impressive foundation to spark new products and companies that will employ more of our talented workforce."
Mason is the state’s leading producer of tech talent, and has the nation’s fastest-growing research portfolio of any public university.
“I’m excited to help create a talent pipeline that can advance industrial and infrastructure systems, making them smarter, more productive, more efficient, and more sustainable,” said Kurt John, Chief Cybersecurity Officer of Siemens USA. “I look forward to applying my passion for technology and innovation to help diversify the educational experiences of students and ultimately improve my local community.”
The new building will provide labs and working space for students and faculty from Mason’s new Institute of Digital InnovAtion (IDIA) and the proposed School of Computing. A portion of the building will be dedicated to space for industry partners and entrepreneurs who want to advance innovation in collaboration with the university.
Virginia’s Commonwealth Cyber Initiative NoVa Node and the East Coast HQ for the Cybersecurity Manufacturing Innovation Institute will move to the Arlington Campus this April residing in the new IDIA HQ Pilot Space in the Vernon Smith Hall. The Pilot space will reflect the mix of university, industry and community partners that are critical to accelerate innovation and inclusive economic development.
The council’s focus areas will include Mason’s long range plan to anchor an innovation district in the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor, but the COVID-19 pandemic has created community needs that call for immediate council engagement. With the pandemic causing layoffs and unemployment, Mason will launch several new initiatives that address job readiness, preparation, and placement supporting Virginians with internships, job prep, micro-credentials and entrepreneurship programs.
“We hope Mason will support cradle-to-career pathways for low income youth and persons of color to step into well-paid, tech jobs,” said Nina Janopaul, President and CEO for the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH). “APAH is committed to promoting opportunity for low income and disadvantaged individuals in Arlington and throughout the DMV. We hope that Mason will engage as an anchor institution for the underserved and a link to the growing tech sector in NOVA, epitomized by the arrival of Amazon’s HQ2.”
“The President’s Innovation Advisory Council will play a vital role addressing today’s top economic and social challenges by connecting the academic community with industry and government leaders,” said Sumeet Shrivastava, President and CEO of Array Information Technology, and President of Mason’s Alumni Association. “This distinguished leadership council, along with the Arlington Innovation Initiative, will help ensure that the region continues to attract, educate and shape the brightest minds in our industry and continue our rise as one of the hottest technology and entrepreneur ecosystems in the country.”
President’s Innovation Advisory Council Members
Mahfuz Ahmed, BS ‘93 – CEO and Chairman, DISYS
Anne Altman, BS ‘82 – Co-Founder, Everyone Matters Inc.
Sanam Boroumand – CEO, Main Digital
AC Chakrabarti, BS ‘96 - CEO, ByteMethod
Aneesh Chopra – President, CareJourney
Mike Corkery – President and CEO, Deltek
Dr. Francisco Durán - Superintendent, Arlington Public Schools
Deepak Hathiramani – Founding Partner & Executive Chairman, SteeleHarbour Capital Partners
Victor Hoskins - President and CEO, Fairfax County Economic Development Authority
Ahmad Ishaq – Founder and CEO, U.Group and Managing Director, Spectre Holdings
Nina Janopaul – President and CEO, Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing
Kurt John – Chief Cybersecurity Officer, Siemens USA
Senator Tim Kaine, H.C. ‘07 – United States Senate, Commonwealth of Virginia
Riz Khaliq, BA ‘93, MA ‘94 - CEO, Assima
Paul Leslie – Executive Chairman, Dovel Technologies
John Loveland – Global Head of Cyber Security Strategy and Marketing, Verizon
John Maxwell – Commissioner, Virginia Department of Veterans Services
Dolly Oberoi – Co-Founder and CEO, C2 Technologies, Inc.
Jay O’Brien – EVP & Chief Banking Officer, Sandy Spring Bank
Jon Peterson – CEO, Peterson Companies
Kurt Scherer – Managing Partner, C5 Capital
Sumeet Shrivastava, MBA ‘94 – President and CEO, Array Information Technology
Julius D. “JD” Spain, Sr. – President, Arlington Branch NAACP
Telly Tucker - Director, Arlington Economic Development
Vijay Venkateswaran, BS ‘90 – Founder and CEO, Viventum Incorporated
David Wiley – President, Widelity
Christina Winn – Executive Director, Prince William County Department of Economic Development
John Wood – CEO & Chairman of the Board, Telos Corporation