Vice President at Van Scoyoc Associates
Leslee Gilbert helps academic institutions, companies, and other organizations interested in research, development, and competitiveness in fields such as aerospace, cybersecurity, information technology, basic and applied science, and energy.
With a Ph.D. and a law degree, Ms. Gilbert has an insider’s understanding of both academia and government policy. Before joining VSA, she was Staff Director and Counsel of the House of Representatives’ Science, Space, and Technology Committee, the primary committee for overseeing non-defense research and development as well as civil aerospace.
On Capitol Hill, Ms. Gilbert played a central role in developing and implementing Federal science, technology, and space policy. She worked closely with senior staff and Members of Congress on such important legislation as the NASA Reauthorization Acts of 2008 and 2010 and the America COMPETES Reauthorization Acts of 2007 and 2010.
By virtue of her work on the Committee, Ms. Gilbert developed strong bipartisan relationships across Congress with the Members and staff most involved in setting policy and providing funding for research and development. She also coordinated these policies with senior leadership staff and key Congressional coalitions. By knowing their motivations and agendas, Ms. Gilbert is able to help her clients match their projects with the right people and in the right way.
During this era of shrinking Federal funding for R&D, accompanied by less generous state support of higher education, Ms. Gilbert’s skills at finding opportunities are particularly useful. The same sort of innovation she used to help Members she now applies on behalf of clients.
After graduating from Texas A&M University and getting her doctorate in early American history from the University of Kentucky, Ms. Gilbert initially planned for an academic life and served as an Assistant Professor of History at St. Mary’s University of Minnesota in Winona.
But during a three-month temporary assignment that brought her and her husband to Washington, Ms. Gilbert discovered she was excited more by the present-day activities of government than by its history. She fell in love with Washington.
Ms. Gilbert began working for Rep. Ralph M. Hall of Texas in 2003 as a Legislative Assistant, Deputy Communications Director, and eventually Legislative Director. She served as a senior advisor on appropriations, transportation, and budget matters and handled issues related to the Congressman’s assignments on the Science Committee and the Health and Environment Subcommittees of the Energy and Commerce Committee.
In that role, she crafted legislation that created the National Integrated Drought Information System at NOAA, and an act to bring more awareness to ovarian cancer research and detection. Later, she moved to the Science, Space, and Technology Committee, where Rep. Hall was the ranking Republican Member and later Chairman.
There, she managed a staff of 47 people with a budget of nearly $7 million. Among its responsibilities, the Committee has jurisdiction over programs at NASA, NSF, NIST, NOAA, EPA, and the Departments of Energy, Homeland Security, and Transportation.
In 2012, Ms. Gilbert was presented with the STA Leadership Award, by the Space Transportation Association, in recognition of her support for robust, affordable space transportation for NASA, DOD, and commercial markets.