By Liz Ivaniw Jones

In March 2018, the University of Virginia Darden School of Business opened the doors to its new Sands Family Grounds in the Rosslyn district of downtown Arlington, Virginia, amid Washington, D.C.’s powerful mix of government, policy, corporations, commerce and nonprofits. Occupying the top two floors of a 31-story office tower emblazoned with the UVA Darden logo, the new 40,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art facility affords students, event guests and other key stakeholders panoramic views of the iconic Washington, D.C., cityscape.

Darden’s presence in the nation’s capital was made possible by a transformative gift from Sands Capital Management founder and Chairman Frank Sands Sr. (MBA ’63) and CEO and Chief Investment Officer Frank Sands Jr. (MBA  ’94), who noted, “We believe Darden is poised to be an influential, positive force at the intersection of business, public policy and leadership.”

The UVA Darden Sands Family Grounds are the platform from which Darden is advancing its goal to contribute productively to the greater U.S. and global dialog. Proximity to the nation’s thought leaders has enriched the Darden experience by giving students, faculty, alumni and other key stakeholders the opportunity to engage luminaries from business, industry, technology and government. Since its opening, the Grounds has hosted Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Bob Woodward, former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan and NBC news correspondent Andrea Mitchell, among many others.

The Sands Family Grounds are home to Darden’s Executive MBA and Global Executive MBA formats. In fall 2018, Darden announced the introduction of several innovations to its top-ranked Executive MBA program, deepening its ties to the D.C. area and flexibility for working professionals.

In August 2018, the University of Virginia announced its new Master of Science in business analytics (MSBA) — the University’s first joint-degree program, delivered in partnership by the Darden School and UVA’s McIntire School of Commerce.

The facility also hosts some academic programming for the MBA/Master of Science in data science dual-degree program, offered by Darden and UVA’s Data Science Institute.

In October, the UVA Tri-Sector Leadership Fellows (TSL) program hosted a Washington, D.C., field experience for its fellows from the Darden School, UVA Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy and UVA School of Law. The kickoff evening reception featured Atlantic Media President Michael Finnegan (MBA ’07), who addressed “the business of freedom of speech.”

The evening event was the first cross-school alumni reception hosted at the Sands Family Grounds and allowed current and former TSL fellows as well as alumni from the three schools to meet and network. Speakers presenting during the next day’s programming included Annie Donovan, director of the CDFI Fund at the U.S. Department of the Treasury; Margaret Graves (MBA ’82), deputy federal CIO with the U.S. Office of Management and Budget; and Michael Piwowar, executive director at the Milken Institute Center for Financial Markets; among other top leaders from business, government and the nonprofit sector.

Darden Executive Education programming was also offered on the Grounds’ throughout the year. The Grounds hosted a residency of The Executive Program — Darden’s flagship program for senior executives — during which executives connected with global principals and national policymakers on a range of timely topics, including trade and immigration policies, global markets and cybersecurity.

With an emphasis on team building through experiential activity, Darden Executive Education’s course Aligning Teams for Growth and Change — co-led by U.S. Olympian Dan Lyons in May — featured an “Olympic Rower Challenge” that intensified workshop-based learning with daily rowing practice on the Potomac River.

Looking ahead, the Darden School is fine-tuning its Rosslyn operations and launching new initiatives with an expanded Grounds staff, as the Sands Family Grounds will grow as a catalyst for Darden’s long-term growth in the 21st century.

Laura Hennessey Martens, the newly appointed director of Washington, D.C. Area Initiatives, works closely with Professor Greg Fairchild (MBA ’92), associate dean of Washington, D.C., Area Initiatives, and Darden’s leadership team to execute the School’s vision and strategy for visibility and expansion in the Washington, D.C., area. She joins a Rosslyn-based team that includes staff from academic programs, admissions, alumni engagement, advancement, hospitality and facilities.

Said Fairchild, who also serves as director of UVA’s Northern Virginia Operations: “We’re building on existing relationships and forming new ones as we seek to cement Darden’s role as the preeminent graduate business school at the nexus of business and public policy.”

About the University of Virginia Darden School of Business

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business delivers the world’s best business education experience to prepare entrepreneurial, global and responsible leaders through its MBA, Ph.D. and Executive Education programs. Darden’s top-ranked faculty is renowned for teaching excellence and advances practical business knowledge through research. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.