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Virginia Beach Forum

Governor Bob McDonnell

A Governor’s Road to Vindication and Restoration:
The Call for the Restoration of Federalism and Civility • Speaking at Sandler Center

Tuesday, April 25, 2017 at Sandler Center

Robert F. (“Bob”) McDonnell served as the 71st Governor of Virginia from 2010 through 2014. Virginians elected him by a 17-point margin on the strength of his focus on improving Virginia’s economy, and during his administration Virginia enjoyed yearly budget surpluses while unemployment declined from 7.4% to 5.2%. He steered major initiatives on job creation, transportation funding, pension system reform, higher education restructuring, K-12 education, and teacher tenure reform through the Legislature and earned high approval ratings through the majority of his term. He is also a retired U.S. Army officer and a former Attorney General of Virginia and state legislator.

The federal government blotted former Governor McDonnell’s record of lifelong public service when it prosecuted him and his wife on corruption charges shortly after he left office. The 3½-year legal ordeal was an exhausting experience for the family as the government pursued a novel theory of federal law that would have criminalized routine political and governmental interactions. The United States Supreme Court ruled unanimously in his favor, and the government ultimately dismissed all charges.

The experience left former Governor McDonnell convinced our federal government must change in two fundamental respects. First, federal government must restore the federalist structure designed by the Founders. Second, government must be transformed into a model of civility and respect toward its citizens and between the parties and branches of government.

In pursuit of those goals, former Governor McDonnell will establish the Governor’s Center for Restoration of Federalism at Regent University, where he teaches in the law and government schools. He earned his law degree and a master’s degree in public policy at the University in 1989, and he will work with distinguished thinkers and advocates to develop policy proposals and to shapefuture public servants.

In addition to his public policy and educational initiatives, former Governor McDonnell founded and maintains the McDonnell Group, a firm which focuses on consulting and business development, and he recently rejoined the Virginia Beach law firm Poole Brooke Plumlee as of Counsel. He had practiced law with Poole Brooke Plumlee’s predecessor for fifteen years, and his return brings his civil law practice full-circle. These positions enable former Governor McDonnell to apply the lessons learned throughout his decades of experience in government, law, business, and education to the needs of clients.

Despite his own confidence grounded deeply in his faith in God, former Governor McDonnell saw the suffering his ordeal caused so many around him, and the experience deepened his desire to touch others who suffer. Today, charitable outreach and board service provide further outlets in his post-elective life, and he seeks individuals who are in pain and offers them his emotional support and a hopeful message based upon his own experiences. He serves on the Foundation Board for Samaritan House and the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce.

Finally, the long journey to legal vindication in the Supreme Court reinforced the importance of family. Former Governor McDonnell and his wife have five adult children, and they have been further blessed by the arrivals of four grandchildren in the past two years.

Helen E. Dragas

Higher Education in Virginia – In the Crosshairs or At a Crossroads?
Speaking at Cape Henry Collegiate School • 1320 Mill Dam Road.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017 at Cape Henry Collegiate School

Since 1996, Helen E. Dragas has served as President and Chief Executive Officer of The Dragas Companies, a leading diversified real estate development concern in Hampton Roads.

Under her leadership, Builder Magazine recognized The Dragas Companies as “America’s Best Builder” in 2009. From the University of Virginia, Helen received a BA in Foreign Affairs, a BA in Economics, and a Master of Business Administration.

Ms. Dragas has received and served gubernatorial appointments: to the University of Virginia Board of Visitors, the State Council on Higher Education for Virginia, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, and Governor’s Economic Development and Jobs Creation Commission.

Ms. Dragas was elected rector of the University of Virginia Board of Visitors by her peers in 2010 and worked tirelessly until the end of her eight-year term to refocus the university on its founding mission of providing an excellent education to students at an affordable price. Despite national controversy and a tenure marked by public resistance from federally authorized accreditors, University of Virginia faculty, and the American Association of University Professors, Ms. Dragas was steadfastly vocal and critical of skyrocketing tuition and mounting national student debt levels. She has been a consistent proponent of fiscal accountability, transparency, and free speech in academia. In 2014, Ms. Dragas founded a national non-profit organization, Partners 4 Affordable Excellence @EDU, to catalyze change that restores quality and genuine affordability to students at America’s public colleges and universities.

Among other awards, Ms. Dragas was named First Citizen of Virginia Beach in 2010 and received a Humanitarian Award from the Center for Inclusive Communities of Virginia in 2011. She will be inducted into the Hampton Roads Business Hall of Fame in March, 2017.


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