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 accelerated efforts to diversify the college’s faculty and student body, increasing the proportion of underrepresented minority students from 8 to 19 percent and undergraduate women from 33 to 50 percent.
Collins serves on the board of trustees of the MITRE Corporation, the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce, the Society for Science, and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers Foundation. He is a member of the board of directors of the Virginia Tech Applied Research Corporation and is a member of the Economic Club of Washington, DC. He has served on numerous academic advisory boards and visiting committees, including for the University of Michigan, Purdue University, Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania, and Harvard University, among others.
Collins is professor of mechanical engineering at Virginia Tech. His research is focused on the application of direct numerical simulation to a broad range of turbulent processes. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. In 2021 he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering.
Faculty Lead and Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs
Kirk W. Cameron is the faculty lead and associate vice president of academic affairs at the Virginia Tech Innovation Campus. He is a professor of computer science and an IEEE Fellow. From 2012-2022, he was director of the stack@cs Center for Computer Systems (ranked #26 by U.S. News in March 2022). As a researcher, Cameron pioneered green computing, and his power measurement and management techniques have had profound influence on the design of computers, supercomputers, and datacenters through commercialization and contributions to the design of the EnergyStar program for servers. As an entrepreneur, his intellectual property led to startup creation and his software has been downloaded by more than 500,000 people in 160+ countries.
Cameron’s work regularly appears in The New York Times, The Guardian, Time, Newsweek, and elsewhere. His research/education artifacts have been exhibited nationally and internationally including at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, and the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, in Washington, D.C. From 2010-2017, he created and wrote the Green IT column for IEEE Computer Magazine, the flagship publication of the IEEE Computer Society. Cameron is the associate editor in chief for IEEE Transactions on Parallel and Distributed Systems and is an associate editor of the Journal of Parallel and Distributed Systems.
Director of Operations and Chief of Staff
David Baker is director of operations and chief of staff for the Virginia Tech Innovation Campus. He joined Virginia Tech in the greater Washington, D.C., metro area in 2018 as assistant director of government and community affairs, based in Alexandria. His focus has been on supporting campus leadership through important initiatives with the City of Alexandria and key local stakeholders. He assumed the new role with the Innovation Campus on July 25, 2022.
During his time with the Office of Government Relations, Baker served as a primary point of contact for City of Alexandria officials and the local community, including throughout the zoning and entitlement process for the Innovation Campus. He also led the effort to have the Virginia Tech name added to the new Potomac Yard Metro Station, which opened in May 2023.
Baker joined Virginia Tech from George Washington University where he served as director of Virginia Government Relations since 2014. He 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 George Washington University.
Assistant Director of Graduate Recruitment
Luisa Burgos currently serves as Assistant Director of Graduate Recruitment at the Innovation Campus. Luisa earned her Bachelor's from James Madison University and her Masters from Virginia Tech. She has served in several roles at Virginia Tech including working for the Student Opportunities & Achievement Resources Program (SOAR), Office of Undergraduate Admissions, Student Success Center, Cultural and Community Centers, The Graduate School Office of Recruitment, Diversity, and Inclusion; and The Provost Office of Inclusion and Diversity. She is an advocate and liaison for underserved and marginalized populations. Her research and career interests focus on enrollment management, advocacy, equity, access, summer programs, and retention.
Patricia "Patty" Cardenas
Director of Admissions
Patricia “Patty” Cardenas brings over a decade of experience in higher education administration, strategic enrollment, and recruitment skills to the Innovation Campus as the inaugural director of admissions. In this role, she will lead the recruitment and admissions process for thousands of students every year.
Cardenas was previously the associate director of doctoral recruitment for Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey. Throughout her career, Cardenas has instituted proactive higher education administration practices and policies that enhance recruitment, academic advising, and career counseling services for a diverse population of graduate students. She has worked to increase recruitment through engaging marketing strategy while leveraging data to enhance access to higher education.
Prior to her work at Stevens, Cardenas served as the associate director of admissions at Ross University School of Medicine in Miramar, Florida, where she was the Hispanic-serving institution liaison. In this role, she worked to identify barriers and implement intervention strategies to increase retention and graduation rates. Cardenas also developed partnerships with top Hispanic-serving institutions and historically Black colleges and universities to enhance recruitment of underrepresented students.
Cardenas holds a Lean Six Sigma certification, an industry standard for program management that focuses on increasing quality and efficiency, which she utilizes in her work to develop an admissions staff with a shared vision and motivation. She has a master's degree in program management from Devry University's Keller Graduate School of Management and a bachelor's degree in psychology and Latin American civilization studies from Rutgers University.
Director of Finance and Administration
Feride Daku is the inaugural director of finance and administration at the Virginia Tech Innovation Campus. Daku has served Virginia Tech for more than 25 years in financial, managerial, and leadership roles.
She was most recently the associate vice provost for business administration, overseeing budget, financial planning, and resource allocation for the executive vice president and provost, vice president for diversity and inclusion, and departments in the provost's office. In her role in the provost’s office, Daku worked with department heads and vice provosts to manage business operations. She served as the main compliance officer for the division and provided analysis and support for major diversity programs and high-priority academic initiatives.
Daku was previously the director of finance and administration for the Office of the Vice President and Dean for Undergraduate Education, where she was a key fiscal advisor, providing leadership for financial, human resources, information technology, and public relations aspects of the division. She developed financial models and projects that informed strategic planning and educational programs while facilitative strong partnerships with university-wide units.
Daku began her career with Virginia Tech in the Offices of Budget and Financial Planning and Residential and Dining Programs.
She holds a Ph.D. in higher education administration and an MBA from Virginia Tech. She also earned two bachelor's degrees in finance and agriculture engineering from Tirana Agricultural University in Albania.
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.
Division Director of Human Resources for the VT Innovation Campus and D.C.-Metro Area
Maura Gardner is the division director of Human Resources (HR) for the Virginia Tech Innovation Campus and the greater Washington, D.C.-metro area. She focuses on HR strategy, processes, practices, and recruiting to support the continued development of the Innovation Campus. She also works with other HR directors, local practitioners, and leadership to build and reinforce a community of practice to support the university’s presence in the D.C. area.
Gardner has extensive HR experience in organizational development and operations, classification and compensation, talent acquisition, employee relations, and performance evaluation. She most recently was director of advancement human resources at George Mason University. She previously worked for the U.S. Department of State in Ottawa, Canada, and the Baltimore City Public Schools. She began her career as a high school history teacher in Yorktown, Virginia.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Mary Washington and a Master of Education degree in instructional technology from the University of Virginia. She also has earned her SHRM-SCP and completed her diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace certification through the University of South Florida.
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.
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.
Digital Content Producer
Lydia Pritchard is the digital content producer at the Virginia Tech Innovation Campus. She amplifies the Campus’ message through social media, website, newsletter, and graphic design. She is also a Virginia Tech News contributor.
Prior to the Innovation Campus, Pritchard worked as the admissions specialist in the JD Office of Admissions at American University Washington College of Law for more than two years. She oversaw the JD Admissions social media, webpage, database, recruitment event planning and logistics, marketing materials, and admission letter process. Pritchard also worked at the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget as the communications assistant.
Pritchard works part-time for her family’s company, SunX Analytical, as the media and communications manager. She holds a bachelor’s degree in communications (journalism) from Loyola University Maryland in Baltimore.