Keynote Address

Senator Warner (D-VA) Delivers Keynote Address at 2017 GW New Venture Competition Finals


Senator Mark Warner (D-VA)

Senator Mark R. Warner (B.A. '77)

Mark Robert Warner is an American politician and the senior United States Senator from Virginia, in office since 2009. He is a member of the Democratic Party and currently serves as the vice chair of both the Senate Democratic Caucus, per appointment by Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Prior to his congressional career, Warner was the 69th Governor of Virginia, holding the office from 2002–06, and is the honorary chairman of the Forward Together PAC. Warner delivered the keynote address at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. Apart from politics, Warner is also known for his involvement in telecommunications-related venture capital during the 1980s; he founded the firm Columbia Capital.

Warner was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, the son of Marjorie and Robert F. Warner. He has a younger sister, Lisa. He grew up in Illinois, and later in Vernon, Connecticut, where he graduated from Rockville High School. He has credited his interest in politics to his eighth grade social studies teacher, Jim Tyler, who "inspired him to work for social and political change during the tumultuous year of 1968." He was class president for three years at Rockville High School and hosted a weekly pick-up basketball game at his house, "a tradition that continues today."

Warner later went on to minor in political science at The George Washington University (GW), earning his B.A. in 1977 with a 4.0 GPA. He was valedictorian of his class at GW and the first in his family to graduate from college.

At GW he worked on Capitol Hill to pay for his tuition, riding his bike early mornings to the office of U.S. Senator Abraham Ribicoff (D-CT). When his parents visited him at college, he obtained two tickets for them to tour the White House; when his father asked him why he didn't get a ticket for himself, he replied, "I'll see the White House when I'm president." After graduation, Warner attended Harvard Law School, where he coached the school's first intramural women's basketball team and received his Juris Doctor in 1980. Warner has never practiced law.

In the early 1980s, he served as a staffer to U.S. Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT).
He later used his knowledge of federal telecommunication law and policies as a broker of mobile phone franchise licenses, making a significant fortune. As founder and managing director of Columbia Capital, a venture capital firm, he helped found or was an early investor in a number of technology companies, including Nextel. He co-founded Capital Cellular Corporation, and built up an estimated net worth of more than $200 million. As of 2012, he was the wealthiest U.S. Senator.

The Finals of the 2017 GW New Venture Competition will be held on April 20, 2017 from 5:30 - 8:30 pm in the Jack Morton Auditorium.  The Jack Morton Auditorium is located at 805 21st St NW, Washington, DC 20052.  You can register to attend the Finals here.