VCU announces the promotion of Matthew A. Conrad and Karah L. Gunther

Karah Gunther, left, and Matt Conrad.
Karah Gunther, left, and Matt Conrad.

Virginia Commonwealth University today announced the promotions of Matthew A. Conrad and Karah L. Gunther to vice president positions, effective May 1.

Conrad has been named vice president for government and external relations for VCU and VCU Health System, and serves as strategic lead and primary representative to the executive and legislative branches of local, state and federal governments. He also serves as VCU’s external representative and facilitator for initiatives related to economic development, regional collaboration and strategic initiatives that require broad participation by the university and its health system.

Conrad previously served as executive director of government and board relations. Prior to joining VCU in October 2013, he served as deputy chief of staff and deputy counselor to the Virginia governor, as well as deputy secretary of agriculture and forestry. Other public service includes serving in the Virginia Office of Attorney General as assistant attorney general. He also was appointed as a special assistant to the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.
Conrad received a B.A. from James Madison University and a J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He was also a fellow of the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership at the University of Virginia.

Gunther has been named vice president of external affairs and health policy, and serves as the strategic government relations lead for VCU Health System, VCU’s health sciences schools and college and health-related research centers. In this key role, Gunther analyzes and shapes state and federal policy relating to health care delivery, education and research to ensure alignment with VCU’s and VCU Health System’s mission and strategic priorities. She also represents the health system and health sciences schools within external national and state professional associations and serves as the health system’s primary representative to the business community.

Gunther previously served as executive director of government relations and health policy. She began her career at VCU in November 2011 as senior health policy analyst for the VCU Office of Health Innovation, coordinating the development of health reform education and implementation strategies for VCU Health System. Before coming to VCU, Gunther served as the director of the coordination of care department at Bon Secours Richmond Health System. She also worked as a health care attorney for Hancock, Daniel, Johnson & Nagle, P.C.

Gunther received her B.A. from the University of Virginia, her master’s in health administration from VCU and her J.D. from Washington and Lee University School of Law.

“The government relations and health care policy office has contributed significantly to advancing university and health system strategic priorities, especially related to our core missions of access and student and patient experience,” said VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D. “I am pleased to announce changes to the government and external relations functions at VCU and VCU Health System that strategically enhance this already high-performing area and have resulted in the promotions of two of our key leaders.”

About VCU and VCU Health

Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU enrolls more than 30,000 students in 233 degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Twenty-two of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU’s 11 schools and three colleges. The VCU Health brand represents the VCU health sciences academic programs, the VCU Massey Cancer Center and the VCU Health System, which comprises VCU Medical Center (the only academic medical center in the region), Community Memorial Hospital, Tappahannock Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, and MCV Physicians. The clinical enterprise includes a collaboration with Sheltering Arms Institute for physical rehabilitation services. For more, please visit and