Federal tech mavens gather for awards dinner

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) joked with former law school buddy Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine last night as he introduced him as the recipient of the Northern Virginia Technology Council's Chairman's Award. Warner received the award himself in 2005. (Keep reading--you'll be rewarded with pictures!)

Warner was Kaine's predecessor as governor of the Commonwealth, and Kaine served as his lieutenant governor. Kaine said he knew Warner before he knew his wife. And when they were working together in Richmond, he saw Warner more than he saw his wife.

The annual "technology celebration" was held at the Ritz Carlton in Tysons Corner. U.S. Army Chief of Staff General George Casey gave the keynote address. It was well-attended by federal officials with ties to Virginia and technology. Reps. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), Jim Moran (D-Va.) and Frank Wolf (R-Va.) were in attendance, as well as former FCC Chairman Kevin Martin.

"There are more federal officials, local officials and wannabe politicians in this room than tech people," Warner joked.

Kaine was honored for his work in making Virginia business-friendly and for elevating the role technology plays in the state's economy. But he said he knew the real reason he received the award: for "finding Aneesh Chopra and Vivek Kundra" and vaulting them to the White House.

Chopra served as Virginia's Secretary of Technology under Kaine, and Kundra was Kaine's Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Technology. Chopra is now federal Chief Technology Officer and Kundra is federal Chief Information Officer in the Obama administration.

"I'm not old enough to be their dad, but I have a paternal pride in seeing how well they're doing," Kaine said.

He then recounted the first conversation he had with each of them. When Chopra came onboard, he told Kaine, "Thank you for breaking the stereotype that Indian-Americans are not good at technology." (Joking, of course.) Kundra had a more serious question for the governor: "Is marriage a good thing?" Kaine's answer was apparently satisfactory; Kundra is happily married.

Bobbie Kilberg, president of NVTC, is politically connected herself. She's worked in the White House for three presidents (Nixon, Ford and George H. Bush) and is now the technology advisor on the transition team of Virginia Governor-elect Bob McDonnell.

Cross-posted on Washington Scene