John Hager


Chairman, The Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership
State Advisory Board

John Hager graduated from Purdue University with a Bachelor's Degree in Mechanical Engineering and from Harvard University with a Master's Degree in Business Administration. He served in the U.S. Army and Army Reserves, rising to the rank of Captain. He is a member of the American Legion. A lifelong athlete, Hager has participated in many wheelchair races and marathons.

Hager married the former Margaret Dickinson Chase in 1970. Magie and their two sons, Jack and Henry, have long supported John's quest to build a better Virginia.

A business executive who started at the bottom of the career ladder, John rose quickly through the ranks of The American Tobacco Company to the position of Executive Vice President. After a near-fatal bout with Polio, John rebuilt his life and his career. He continued to work for the Company in serveral capacities and retired as Senior Vice President for Leaf and Specialty Products when the corporation was sold in 1994. During this time he also exapnded his service role across Virgina and led some 30 civic charity and community organizations.

Hager was elected to Virginia's second highest office, that of Lieutenant Governor, in 1997 and served in that position for four years. His election proved that preseverance and determiniation in the face of daunting obstacles lead to victory in an election or in one's life. Hager's full-time approach to serving the people of Virginia redefined the role of Lieutenant Governor for that state. He served as Chairman or Vice-Chairman of five active state Commissions and continued to lead many statewide initiatives.

Hager became the Director of Homeland Security for Virginia soon after the events of September 11, 2001 and served in that position until May 1, 2004. Initially serving with Governor James Gilmore, Hager led the transition and then assumed the Cabinet-level position of Asistant to the Governor for Commonwealth Preparedness uner newly elected Governor  Mark Warner. He was responsible for the management, structure and organization of and funding for the state's security. Under his guidance, Virginia's security strengthened in many areas and became a role model for other states.

He was nominated by President George W. Bush on June 1, 2004 to the position of Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services and confirmed by the Senate on November 21, 2004. In his position of Assistant Secretary, he was responsible for the Office of Special Education, the Rehabilitative Services Administration and the National Institute of Disability Research with a budget of some $13 billion. He worked closely with all the states and pioneered an aggressive approach to transition young people with disabilities to independence and a better life and a national emphasis on the use and reuse of assistive technology. Hager completed his work with the Department of Education on August 1, 2007.

He was elected Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia on July 27, 2007 and served to complete the unexpired term of Ed Gillespie in June 2008. He led the party to financial stability and a rebirth of grassroots emphasis. Hager now serves on non-profit Boards and travels widely with his wife Maggie.

Biographical notes provided courtesy of the office of John Hager.