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Ferrum Alumnus Tapped To Be Virginia’s Secretary of Labor

For Bryan Slater, every day is Labor Day.
But it’s not a holiday.
Slater (Ferrum ’82) was recently tapped by Virginia Governor Glen Youngkin to be the Commonwealth’s Secretary of Labor.
The appointment came on Jan. 6, accompanied by a ringing endorsement from the Virginia’s Head of State.
“Workforce development will play a crucial part of jumpstarting our economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Youngkin said upon selecting Slater. “Bryan’s experience and leadership will be critical to the development of talent, training of workers, and protection of Virginia’s right-to-work laws that will attract investment to Virginia. Bryan will be a key partner in fixing the Virginia Employment Commission and delivering results for the Commonwealth.”
Slater brings a wealth of experience to the governor’s administration.
He served as Secretary of Administration for Governor James Gilmore (R-VA) and as Director of Administration for the Attorney General’s Office under Attorney General James Gilmore.
He also was the White House Liaison at the U.S. Department of Labor under President George W. Bush, where he managed all non-career appointee hiring, and as a congressional relations officer for the Department of Housing and Urban Development under President George H.W. Bush.
Most recently, he served as Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management at the U.S. Department of Labor and Assistant Secretary of Administration for the U.S. Department of Transportation under President Trump.
It’s now been barely a month since Slater got the nod, and already his docket is full, as the General Assembly has been in session, and he has been pulled in multiple directions. Still, he took time to reflect upon his time on campus.
“The foundation for my career began at Ferrum,” he said. “It’s where I got involved in politics and where my interest in government and politics began.”
As Slater reminisced about Panther life, his thoughts turned toward some of his former professors.
“Dedicated faculty members like Richard Smith, Doug Foard, Sasha Saari, and others took the time to get to know me as a person, as well as a student,” he said. “Their guidance and mentorship made a significant difference in my life.”
Former classmate Carthan F. Currin (Ferrum ’84) and president of The Virginia College Fund, spent quite a bit of time on campus with Slater.
“I first met Bryan in an honors western civilization class taught by Dr. Richard Smith in 1980, and from those early days at Ferrum, Bryan has enjoyed a stellar career in public service, having served two Virginia governors, and three United States presidents,” Currin said. “The foundation that Ferrum provided was the key for Bryan’s success in his career and life.”
And now, after more than 20 years in politics, Slater still credits Ferrum as the kick start to his career.
“Ferrum gave me a chance to prove myself. If it hadn’t been for Ferrum, none of this would have been possible,” he said. That same possibility is an opportunity he hopes to create by paying it forward.
“I want to make sure that others can enjoy the benefits of a Ferrum education that I received,” Slater said. “My parents were hard-working, blue-collar folks, and I feel fortunate to be in a position to make sure current Ferrum students have the same opportunities that I had during my time there.”
Article written and contributed by Ferrum Assistant Professor of English & Journalism David B. Campbell.

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