Danielle Williams of Falls Church, Va., who received an executive master of natural resources degree in May, has been named a finalist for a Presidential Management Fellowship, a highly competitive two-year post-graduate fellowship with a federal agency. Finalists are selected for their exceptional leadership qualities, and agencies groom them to be future policymakers and leaders. Williams, who has until January to secure a position with a hosting agency such as the Department of the Interior or the Environmental Protection Agency, is particularly interested in environmental education, green infrastructure, forest recreation, and sustainability issues.

“One great aspect of being a Presidential Management Fellowship finalist is that it opens doors to people and opportunities in the federal government that I may not have access to otherwise,” Williams said. “I’m grateful to have been chosen.”

Williams is a grants administration specialist with Laurel Consulting Group Inc., under contract to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, with nine years of experience in grants administration, project management, and research. She is among the first class of students to graduate from the intensive 18-month Executive Master of Natural Resources Program in Leadership for Sustainability, which is part of the college’s graduate programs in the National Capital Region.

The Presidential Management Fellowship program, established by President Jimmy Carter in 1977, is sponsored by the Office of Personnel Management. Candidates, who are nominated by their schools, face an arduous application process, including an online skills assessment and an in-person interview. Fewer than 10 percent of the 9,000 applicants become finalists.

“As I’ve watched the Presidential Management Fellowship program get increasingly competitive over the last decade, it was rewarding to have a student we felt would be able to effectively represent Virginia Tech and our program,” said Michael Mortimer, director of natural resources programs for the college in the National Capital Region, who nominated Williams.