Ralph Northam, sworn in this weekend as the Commonwealth of Virginia’s 73rd governor, has named University of Mary Washington alumnus Erik Johnston ’03 to a key position.
In Northam’s administration, Johnston will serve as director of the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), charged with creating safe, affordable and prosperous communities in which to live, work and do business in Virginia.
“I am honored to be appointed director of DHCD,” said Johnston, who will transition from his previous post as the department’s chief deputy. “I look forward to working with the DHCD team and our partners across the Commonwealth on our critical mission.”
At Mary Washington, Johnston majored in political science and international affairs, earning the coveted Colgate Darden Award for achieving the highest grade point average in his class.
After graduation, he managed the 2004 campaign of a candidate for the Alaska State House. The following year, he joined the National Association of Counties, rising to the rank of associate legislative director before moving to the Virginia Association of Counties (VACo) in 2013. He served as director of government affairs for VACo until then-Gov. Terry McAuliffe brought him onboard as deputy policy director in the Office of the Governor.
In his various roles, Johnston, who holds a master’s degree in public administration from Virginia Tech, has become an expert on transportation, economic development, housing, community development and more.
“My years at Mary Washington prepared me to pursue my passion for public policy,” he said. “My Mary Washington experience has never ended, as I’ve been blessed to be connected to professors and fellow Eagles who continue to counsel and support me.”
In addition, the Northam administration announced today the re-appointment of Stephanie Hamlett ’81 as executive director of the Virginia Resources Authority. Hamlett, who majored in history at UMW and earned a juris doctorate from the University of Richmond, served previously in the same post from 2010 to 2012 and from 2014 to 2017.