Office of the Provost

JMU MBA and MPA programs are fueling Virginia's transportation sector


 

By Benjamin T. Delp (‘05, ‘08), Research & Scholarship

Matthew Wade, who serves as Deputy Director of Virginia Clean Cities (VCC), is no stranger to academics at James Madison University.  Now in his second semester of the Executive Leadership MBA program, Wade has already received two degrees from JMU – a B.A. in Political Science and Master of Public Administration.  A new role and additional managerial responsibilities led him to the College of Business’ newest MBA concentration offering.

Wade“I lacked formal management training and wanted to not only be a better manager but to figure out my personal style of management,” said Wade.  “I was impressed by the curriculum and diverse range of topics, from supply chain management to organizational behavior to financial analysis and strategic planning.  My goal is to advance VCC by becoming well-versed in business principles and learning to think at the strategic level.”

Virginia Clean Cities is part of a U.S. Department of Energy program that was originally founded in Hampton Roads in 1996.  The mission of VCC is to advance air quality improvement, economic opportunity, and energy security through deployment of alternative fuel vehicles and infrastructure, education programs, and other petroleum reduction activities.  Recognizing a strategic opportunity to collaborate with higher education, VCC and JMU formed a partnership in 2009.

As Deputy Director of Virginia Clean Cities, Wade supervises two full-time staff members, manages four federal grants, serves on the planning committee for an annual fundraiser (Rally at the Raceway), and conducts outreach to expand alternative fuel vehicle infrastructure in the Commonwealth.

“On any given day I could be in contact with all three levels of government – the EPA, Department of Energy, or USDA at the federal level; the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality or Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy at the state level; as well as local school systems or municipalities looking to add alternative fuel vehicles to their fleets,” Wade explained. 

“Navigating the bureaucracy and competing priorities is what makes this job challenging,” he added.  “Understanding how public organizations function, which was a key element of JMU’s MPA program, helps me identify common solutions so that we can get to ‘yes’.”

Working in the alternative and renewable fuel vehicle industry is part of a long-term plan for Wade.  While he learned a great deal in previous jobs – working as an acquisition analyst for a large defense contractor and as a financial analyst in local government – VCC’s work motivates him as a native Virginian. 

“Each day, Virginia sends millions of dollars abroad to purchase foreign oil.  We can produce energy for the transportation sector both in the U.S. and right here in Virginia, using renewables that produce electricity (for example, wind and solar), propane produced through the oil refinement process, and natural gas.  This would enhance both our economic and national security and allow us to be better stewards of the environment by expanding the market for cleaner fuels.”

When asked where he sees himself in 5-10 years, Wade shared his vision of a traveler in an alternative fuel vehicle moving just as easily across the Commonwealth as a person in a traditional vehicle. 

“I’d like to be part of creating an electric vehicle highway in Virginia, from Bristol to Richmond and Richmond to Virginia Beach.  Get in your electric and have the same experience you do in your gas car when traveling across the state.”

As Wade pursues triple JMU Duke status, it is evident that he values his professional and educational relationship to the university. 

“JMU is clearly the best place to work in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County.  I admire the professionalism of the faculty and administration.  It also doesn’t hurt that my wife is in JMU’s Graduate Psychology program,” Wade said with a smile. 

Published: Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Last Updated: Friday, March 3, 2017

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