Jeffrey Johnson, Class of 2016
Director, Tech Research Park, Virginia Tech Corporate Research
Newport News, VA
What is new and exciting with you now or since your time with Lead Virginia?
On August 16th, my organization officially cut the ribbon on the first of a planned 9-building research park in Newport News. The 80,000-sf building is already full, and we are now beginning to fill our next building. This is in addition to 285,000 ft of retail, and the 288-unit luxury apartments, which are both full and make up the comprehensive Tech Center project. We are also working hard to catalyze the innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem in the region, through our Strategic Business Growth Services efforts.
How did Lead Virginia shape you as a leader?
Lead VA helped shape and hone my leadership skills by connecting me with other strong leaders across the state that shares my passion for growth—both personally and professionally; leaders who have a common interest in making a difference in communities across the state.
Since Lead Virginia, how have you put your social capital to work?
There is no way I, or my organization, could have had this level of success in our community and region without leveraging the social capital that was built as a result of my Lead Virginia experience. Relationships really matter—They are the key to shared success.
What were your expectations of Lead Virginia prior to beginning the program? Did the program exceed or meet your expectations?
I really did not know what to expect. I tried to come in with an open mind and heart. Once I began to meet and learn about the challenges and opportunism throughout the regions in our state, it all began to make sense. Our interconnectedness became abundantly clear. The program far exceeded my expectations.
What was your biggest takeaway or lesson learned from Lead Virginia that continues to stick with you today?
Clearly the importance of building social capital. There are many forms of capital, but one could argue that this may be one of the most important forms, as it is the key to unlocking many of the others. As I mentioned before, Lead VA really brought home the need to build and strengthen relationships in effort to make a difference in our communities throughout the state. This is how we all collectively succeed.