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Governor appoints four to W&M Board of Visitors

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe today announced three new appointments and one reappointment to the William & Mary Board of Visitors.

Mirza Baig, managing partner of Aldrich Capital Partners; Barbara Johnson J.D. ’84, a lawyer; and Lincoln Saunders ’06, chief of staff to Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney; will begin four-year terms July 1 as new appointees to the Board. They succeed Lynn M. Dillon ’75, DeRonda M. Short J.D. ‘78 and the Honorable John Charles Thomas.

H. Thomas Watkins III ’74 was reappointed to the Board. Watkins, who now serves as the Board’s vice rector, is also leading the search for the university’s next president. President Taylor Reveley announced in April he plans to retire on June 30, 2018.

“We are delighted the governor reappointed Tom Watkins,” Reveley said. “His leadership on the Board and as chair of the Presidential Search Committee is vital. We also look forward to working with our three BOV new members, who come with valuable experience in law, governance and business. A warm welcome to them all.

“At the same time, it is hard to imagine the Board without Judge Thomas, after his vibrant presence and myriad contributions to its life and work over the last 12 years.  We will also miss enormously Lynn and DeRonda, who have each contributed in very important ways to the work of the Board and the good of William & Mary.”

The 17-member Board of Visitors is the university’s governing body. Led by Rector Todd A. Stottlemyer ’85, the full board, including its 10 committees, works closely with university officials to shape and pursue W&M’s long-term goals. Thomas, who was first appointed in 2006 to fill an unexpired term and then reappointed to two four-year terms, has served longer on the Board than any member during the modern era.

“We are grateful for the many years that Judge Thomas has devoted to William & Mary, during which this extraordinary university has reached new heights,” Stottlemyer said. “Judge Thomas has been an important part of that progress and a leader on our Board. We also are very thankful for the dedicated service of Lynn and DeRonda, whose capable leadership will continue with our incoming Board members. I look forward to working more closely with Barbara, Lincoln and Mirza, and am thrilled to welcome back my colleague and friend Tom Watkins.”

Mirza Baig

Since founding Aldrich Capital (formerly Tipton Equity) — a growth equity firm that invests in healthcare, business services, consumer internet and financial technologies — Baig has managed more than $5 billion of investment transactions. His current investments include TechFetch, Naaya, Imaging Advantage, Streamlined Medical and Legal Advantage among others.

He previously worked as an executive for business affairs and financial management at AOL Time Warner, at one point serving as the chief financial officer of AOL’s eCommerce group. Before that, he worked with American Management Systems and the energy sector-focused Pleiades Group.

Baig is a current board member of the Sorensen Institute and NatTech, a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization and a charter member and former board member of The Indus Entrepreneur.

Baig, who lives in Great Falls, Virginia, received his bachelor’s degree from Cornell and a Master of Business Administration degree from Harvard.

Barbara Johnson J.D. ’84

A graduate of William & Mary Law School, Johnson has focused her career on employment law in Washington, DC, including cases involving diversity, inclusion and gender parity. She was a partner with Paul Hastings LLP for 14 years. In 2016, she founded BLJohnsonLaw PLLC, with a practice ranging from civil rights discrimination to breaches of contract. She also represents clients before state and federal agencies and assists them with workplace investigations, compliance, and diversity and leadership programs.

Johnson earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Hampton University. She has served on the Board of  the William & Mary Law School Foundation and been its chair,  as well as serving on the Board of Governors for the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, the Council for Court Excellence, and the Counselors Council of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.

Lincoln Saunders ’06

Saunders graduated from William & Mary with a degree in government before pursuing a master’s degree in public affairs at Indiana University Bloomington.

He began his political career as a legislative aide in the Virginia House of Delegates and went on to serve on several campaigns before becoming finance director for the Democratic Party of Virginia in 2008. Three years later, he became director of public affairs for Green BEAN Delivery. During his time with that organization, he also served as a board member for the Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana.

In 2014, Saunders was appointed by McAuliffe as chief of staff to the First Lady of Virginia and policy advisor. He assumed his current role with the mayor of Richmond in January of this year.

H. Thomas Watkins III ’74

Watkins, who holds a degree in accounting from W&M and an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, is a recognized leader in the bio-tech industry. He most recently served as president and CEO of Human Genome Sciences before its acquisition by GlaxoSmithKline.

In addition to serving as the vice rector of the W&M Board and a member of its executive committee, he is the chair of its Committee on Financial Affairs, vice chair of the Committee on Athletics and vice chair of the Committee on Strategic Initiatives and New Ventures. When Reveley in April announced his plans to retire in 2018, Watkins was selected by Stottlemyer to chair the 19-member committee charged with leading the search for the university’s 28th president.

Watkins also serves on the Foundation Board of the Raymond A. Mason School of Business at William & Mary and is a past chair of the William & Mary Foundation. He now chairs the board of Vanda Pharmaceuticals and is a member of the board of Horizon Pharma, Inc.

Serving on the W&M Board is a family tradition for Watkins, whose father, Hays Watkins, was a member from 1984 to 1993 and served as Rector from 1987 to 1993. His daughter, Catherine, and son, Hays T. Watkins IV, are both graduates of William & Mary.