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Vice President for Government and Community Relations

Chris Yianilos

Christopher Yianilos
900 North Glebe Road, Suite 2-316
Arlington, VA 22203
(540) 231-7111

Chris Yianilos serves as Virginia Tech’s Vice President for Government and Community Relations where he oversees state and federal government relations and local government and community relations activities in the greater Washington, DC area.  

While Chris started working for Virginia Tech in 2009, his connection to the university spans over thirty years.  He is a graduate of the university, has been an engaged alumnus, and he serves as a member of the President’s senior leadership team.  Chris also founded and teaches the university’s “Hokies on the Hill” program, which is an experiential learning program in Washington, DC, focused on Capitol Hill and the U.S. Constitution.

 Prior to joining Virginia Tech, Chris served for a decade as Senator John Warner’s chief counsel, legislative director, and deputy chief of staff.  He also briefly worked in a senior legislative role for Congressman Rob Wittman. 

While on Capitol Hill, Yianilos earned respect on both sides of the aisle and a reputation as someone with a strong portfolio of legislative accomplishments. Legislative highlights of his work include: The Teacher Tax Relief Act (Public Law 107-47); The 21st Century GI Bill of Rights (Public Law 110-252); The Gang of 14 “Agreement on Judicial Nominations;” Preserving and Implementing the $5 billion rail to Dulles Airport project; and the Lifespan Respite Care Act (Public Law 109-442); among others. 

Chris graduated from Virginia Tech with a double major in political science and history and earned his JD at Washington & Lee University.  He is a member of the Virginia State Bar and has served as a federal law clerk to a US district court judge.  Chris is also the author of a self-help book for law school students, called, The Law School Breakthrough, and the co-author of “Ethics Reform Legislation: The Federal Experience and the Commonwealth of Virginia,” an article published in Virginia Issues and Answers magazine.

He resides in the City of Alexandria.  While he works in Blacksburg and Richmond, Virginia, his primary office is located in the Virginia Tech Research Center – Arlington.

Associate Vice President of Government and Community Relations

Elizabeth Hooper

Elizabeth Hooper
11 South 12th Street, Suite 202
Richmond, Virginia 23219
(804) 786-1604

Elizabeth Hooper currently serves as Virginia Tech's Associate Vice President for Government and Community Relations and is based in Richmond, VA. Previously, Elizabeth served as Director of State Government Relations. Before joining the Office of the President in 2010, she completed her Master of Public Administration and Public Affairs at Virginia Tech while working simultaneously as Virginia Tech’s General Assembly Fellow for the 2008 Legislative Session.

As Virginia Tech's Associate Vice President of Government and Community Relations, Elizabeth communicates the University's priorities to Virginia's executive and legislative branches while also communicating governmental priorities and opportunities back to campus leadership.  She works with university officials to develop and coordinate strategies on a broad array of state government issues, including the University’s budget priorities and requests. Most recently, Elizabeth helped to secure Virginia Tech’s participation and funding in the Commonwealth’s higher education package for Amazon’s HQ2, and Virginia Tech’s capital resources for the Innovation Campus in Alexandria, VA. 

Prior to joining Virginia Tech, Elizabeth served in a variety of roles for a number of Virginia elected officials, including then Governor Tim Kaine, Virginia Delegate and Minority Leader Ward Armstrong, Virginia Delegate Jim Shuler, and Congressman Virgil Goode.

In addition to being an active alumna of Virginia Tech, Elizabeth is a 2006 graduate of Radford University with a Bachelor of Arts in political science.

She grew up in Southside, Virginia and developed a love for politics at a very young age. Elizabeth enjoys running, kick boxing, baking, American Revolutionary War history, and all things Virginia. She and her husband, Jimmy, reside in Richmond, VA.

Director of Northern Virginia Government and Community Relations

David Baker

David Baker
1021 Prince Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
(571) 481-7612

David Baker serves as Director of Northern Virginia Government and Community Relations for Virginia Tech.  In this role, David leads interactions with elected and appointed officials in the region, meets with members of the community, and engages with K-12 partners on behalf of the university. 

David helped to lead the Innovation Campus project through the zoning and entitlement process with the City of Alexandria, secured naming rights to the new Potomac Yard-VT metro station, and serves as the university’s representative on a number of boards and commissions across the region.  

Prior to Virginia Tech, David served as the Director of Virginia Government Relations at The George Washington University.

David graduated from The University of Mary Washington with a Bachelor of Science in business administration.  He earned his Master of Public Policy from The George Washington University. 

David, his wife, Catherine, and their three children live in the Mount Vernon area of Alexandria.  

Director of Government Relations and Roanoke Community Relations 

Portrait of Rebekah Gunn

Rebekah Gunn
Burruss Hall, Room 312A (0116)
800 Drillfield Drive
Blacksburg, VA 24061
(540) 231-0852

Rebekah Gunn joined Virginia Tech in September 2019 as Assistant Director of Government Relations. Rebekah is based on the main campus in Blacksburg and facilitates engagements between the Virginia Tech community and government officials, including campus visits, briefings, and other communications.

Rebekah previously served as Vice President of Public Policy at the Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce and Manager of External Relations in the Office of the Lieutenant Governor of North Carolina. Rebekah is a graduate of North Carolina State University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science. She is currently pursuing a Master of Public Administration and Public Affairs at Virginia Tech.

Rebekah is active in her home community of Roanoke and enjoys hiking throughout Virginia’s Blue Ridge with her husband, Daniel, and daughter, Margot.

Director of Local Government and Community Relations in the New River Valley

Caroline Buscaglia

Emily Gibson

Emily joined Virginia Tech in January 2022 and serves as the Director of Local Government and Community Relations in the New River Valley. Emily most recently served as the Director of Planning and GIS Services for Montgomery County, Virginia. Prior to joining the Montgomery County team in January 2015, Emily served as a planner in both a professional capacity and as a volunteer. She worked for Gloucester County for over eight years. She also served as a Planning Commissioner in Mathews County. Additionally, Emily volunteered as a regional director on the Board of PlanVA (now LUEP), an organization formed over 60 years ago that is committed to education on land use and planning issues. In 2012 Emily was elected as Vice President of Legislative and Policy Affairs for the Virginia Chapter of the American Planning Association and served in that capacity through 2016. Emily has been recognized nationally by Engaging Local Government Leaders (ELGL) with a Traeger Award in 2016 and 2019 as a top influencer in local government. 

Emily enjoys living in Blacksburg with her family and taking advantage of all the outdoor recreation opportunities the New River Valley has to offer. 

Assistant Director for State Government Relations

Caroline Buscaglia

Caroline Buscaglia
11 South 12th Street, Suite 202
Richmond, Virginia 23219
(804) 786-8110

Caroline Buscaglia currently serves as the Assistant Director for State Government Relations. In this role, Caroline assists with engaging Virginia state government officials on university priorities and monitoring legislative and budgetary issues before Virginia General Assembly. 

In 2017, Caroline joined Virginia Tech as the Special Assistant for State Government Relations.  

Prior to that, she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Virginia Tech where she was also a member of the Women’s Swimming and Diving Team. Caroline recently completed her Master of Public Administration and Public Affairs from Virginia Tech. She and her fiance, Justin, reside in Richmond, Virginia. 

Executive Assistant 

Christine McCann

Christine McCann
Burruss Hall, Room 310 (0116)
800 Drillfield Drive
Blacksburg, Virginia 24061
(540) 231-7111

Christine McCann joined Virginia Tech and the Government Relations team in 2013.  She began her career in the performing arts in New York City where she developed her administrative, management and event planning skills.  Upon moving to Washington, DC she served as the Executive Assistant to the CEO of the World Bank and IMF credit union for nearly 10 years.  Her next, and perhaps final stop, was Blacksburg to begin the dream job of raising her daughter and planting her garden.  She holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Siena College, Loudonville, NY.