About Mike Signer
Mike Signer is an attorney and small businessman, Virginia Tech visiting professor, former Warner administration official, and a national security expert. Mike is the founder and managing principal of Madison Law & Strategy Group, PLLC, a boutique law firm where his practice areas include financial regulation and energy.
In 2009, Mike was a candidate for the Democratic nomination for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, raising almost $500,000, receiving the endorsements of five newspapers, and winning the cities of Martinsville, Harrisonburg, and Bristol, among others.
Mike has a long career as a reformer and activist in Virginia. At the University of Virginia School of Law, he was President of the Law Democrats and served as a Clerk at the Charlottesville Legal Aid Justice Center. In the wake of a racially-motivated attack on a fellow student, he founded the Coalition for Progress on Race, which in turn helped found the Center for the Study of Race and Law. As an attorney, he chaired the Pro Bono Commission of the Young Lawyers Commission of the Virginia State Bar.
In 2005, Governor Mark Warner of Virginia appointed Mike as one of two lawyers in the gubernatorial offices, where Mike counseled the governor on issues ranging from executive clemency to civil settlements to FOIA requests. He was asked to chair a special committee on the repercussions of DNA analysis in criminal files.
Mike frequently collaborates with business leaders to promote innovation. In 2009, he founded the E3 Initiative, a year-long effort by energy-related companies to promote new clean energy ideas. He was a member of the Public Policy and Strategy and Government Litigation groups at the international law firm WilmerHale, where his clients including Fortune 500 companies. He has been a member of the Economic Club of Washington and the Northern Virginia Democratic Business Council.
In 2010, Mike traveled to Panjshir Province, Afghanistan, as a member of a U.S. government-sponsored mission to monitor Afghanistan’s parliamentary elections. He chronicled his findings in the Richmond Times-Dispatch. He is the author of Demagogue: The Fight to Save Democracy from Its Worst Enemies (Palgrave Macmillan 2009), a book about democracy, American history, and national security that Publisher’s Weekly wrote “delivers hope, confidence and a vision for diplomacy.” He has spoken about democracy and constitutionalism to audiences including the U.S. Agency for International Development, Georgetown University’s Center for Democracy and Governance Studies, and the Richmond World Affairs Council, and has appeared before audiences in Germany, Italy, and Qatar. For six years, he has taught graduate seminars at Virginia Tech’s Master’s Program in Public and International Affairs in Alexandria, Virginia.
In 2008, top Obama advisors enlisted Mike to sit on a “red team” advising the campaign on national security strategy. He was also a member of the campaign’s Veterans Policy Development Team and the steering committee for the campaign’s Virginia election protection program. During the Obama presidential transition, Mike was asked to serve as an advisor to the State Department Transition Team.
His national security clients have included the Center for American Progress, ThirdWay, and the Progressive Policy Institute. In 2008, Mike founded and directed the Homeland Security Presidential Transition Initiative, a bipartisan group of national thought leaders and practitioners on the detention of terrorism. Arlington County later asked Mike to co-chair the working group that designed the county’s Emergency Preparedness Advisory Commission. From 2010 to 2011, Mike served as vice-chair of that commission.
Mike has also worked to strengthen democracy at home. He has helped direct seven election protection programs in Virginia and served as the Democratic National Committee’s 2004 Virginia election protection coordinator. He founded and co-chaired the New Electoral Reform Alliance for Virginia, which successfully fought for statutory fixes in Virginia’s General Assembly.
In 2009, Governor Tim Kaine appointed Mike to Virginia’s Board of Medicine, which oversees licensing and policy issues related to over 50,000 doctors in the Commonwealth. Mike also serves on the fiduciary Board of Directors of the Truman National Security Project Educational Institute.
Mike frequently publishes in outlets including The Richmond Times-Dispatch, The Washington Post, The New Republic, USA Today, and U.S. News & World Report and has appeared on MSNBC, Fox News, and NPR. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of California at Berkeley, where he was a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow; a J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law; and a B.A., magna cum laude, from Princeton University. He is a member of the Virginia and Washington, D.C. Bars.
Mike attended public elementary, middle, and high schools in Arlington, where he lives today with his wife, Emily Blout. The son of journalists, he is an avid athlete, reader, motorcyclist, movie buff, and a die-hard, life-long fan of the Washington Redskins.