George Mason University
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George Mason University

Gerald L. Gordon Visiting Speakers Series

Gerald L. Gordon Visiting Speaker Series:

An Honors College Living Learning Community Event

George Mason University's Honors College is pleased to announce the second annual Gerald L. Gordon Visiting Speakers Series, hosted by Dr. Jerry Gordon, president and CEO of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority.

In addition to his prominent position in the region, Dr. Gordon is also the chair of the Honors College’s Advisory Board, and the main champion of the Honors College in the business community. Just like last year's series, this year's visiting speakers are among the most experienced and successful business and government leaders in the area.

Honors College students in the 2017 series learn from Jennifer Aument, CEO of Transurban and chair of the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce

Why participate? Attending the speaker series will give you access to a local community leader's personal accounts of their successes and challenges. You also have an opportunity to represent Mason's Honors College to influential local community leaders. Please note that because of the small number of seats available at these dinners, participation is by application only.

Where and when? Each visit will take place over dinner in the Blackstone Room at the Southside Dining Hall from 6:00-8:00 p.m. If you do not already have meal swipes, dinner will be funded by Housing and Residence Life's living learning community office, so you do not need to have a meal plan to participate.

How can I apply? To participate, carefully read the speaker's biographies below. Then choose the speakers who you would like to meet and complete the application.  On the application, you will describe why you want to participate in the speaker series and what questions you most want to ask of our guests. Priority consideration has been extended to Wednesday, February 21. 


Dates and Speakers


Portrait of The Honorable Mr. James W. Dyke, Jr.Tuesday, February 20

The Honorable James W. Dyke Jr.

Mr. Dyke, an attorney whose practice covers corporate, legislative, education, governmental relations, and municipal law, has been named three times by Virginia Business Magazine as one of the “50 Most Influential Virginians.” He has served as Virginia’s Secretary of Education, and as domestic policy advisor to former Vice President Walter Mondale.

Among the many awards he has received are the J. Michael Brown award for his accomplishments in diversity, recruiting and mentoring in the legal profession, and the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce Lifetime Achievement Award.

Portrait of The Honorable Mr. Thomas David RustWednesday, February 28

The Honorable Thomas Davis Rust

Mr. Rust has devoted almost his entire adult life to the practice of civil engineering and public service. Mr. Rust served as Mayor of Herndon from 1976-1984, and from 1990 to December of 2001when he resigned to take his seat in the Virginia House of Delegates where he served till January of 2016.

The Washington Post called Rust “one of the more effective legislators in the General Assembly.” Mr. Rust has also served the higher education community in senior leadership positions at Longwood College (now University) and Virginia Tech.

Portrait of Mr. Jimmy RheeThursday, March 8

The Honorable Jimmy Rhee

In 2015, Governor Larry Hogan appointed Mr. Rhee as Special Secretary Governor’s Office of Small, Minority & Women Business Affairs for the State of Maryland.

He had previously served as Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Trade for the Commonwealth of Virginia. With over 20 years of entrepreneurial experience in enterprise creation, growth, and change management, Mr. Rhee has an extensive record of directing turn-around situations ranging from manufacturing to software companies.

Mr. Rhee serves as a board member for various organizations including Asians in Energy, and the George Mason University Diversity Advisory Committee.

Portrait of Mr. Jimmy RheeWednesday, March 21 

Ms. Eileen Ellsworth

Eileen Ellsworth has been the President of the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia since 2005. With $36 million in managed assets, the Community Foundation engages donors to help grow philanthropy in the region.

Prior to running the Community Foundation, Eileen founded and ran Empower Girls, Inc., a 501(c)(3) educational organization providing technology enrichment for 4th, 5th and 6th grade girls in Title 1 schools in the Fairfax County Public School system. Eileen was also President of WIN-WIN Strategies Foundation, a private foundation focused on sharing best practices around K-12 education technology and building national communities of practice of K-12 educators.

An attorney by training, Eileen was a trial attorney in private practice in Connecticut and New York and later the General Counsel of Best Software in Reston, VA. Eileen serves on the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce Board, the Reston Chamber Board and on the Loudoun County CEO Cabinet.

Portrait of Mr. Chuck MillsTuesday, March 27

Mr. Chuck Mills

Mr. Mills is founder and CEO of Salera Capital Management, a financial services and business consulting firm.

In addition to his successful entrepreneurial pursuits, Mills professional career includes: Bear Stearns bond trader and Vice President within the company's Emerging Markets unit; appointee of Virginia Governor Mark Warner as Agency Director for the Virginia Department of Business Assistance; and speaker for the US State Department. He served nine years in the US Marine Corps as a Cobra helicopter pilot.

His tours of duty include the first Iraq conflict and his selection as a “Marine One” helicopter pilot for Presidents George H. W. Bush and William Clinton. He has served on numerous boards, including as the Secretary of the Board of Visitors at George Mason University.