Executive DirectorAs Executive Director, Dominic Willsdon oversees all aspects of the ICA’s programs and operations. He is a curator, educator and writer who has focused on education, social practice, performance and film with an emphasis on postcolonial experience. Before joining the ICA in December 2018, Willsdon was Leanne and George Roberts Curator of Education and Public Practice at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2006-18) and, before that, Curator of Public Programs at Tate Modern in London (2000-2005).
Recently Willsdon has co-curated the retrospective Suzanne Lacy: We Are Here, as well as Public Knowledge a multi-form project that promoted public dialogue on the impact of urban change through commissions from artists Burak Arikan, Bik Van der Pol, Minerva Cuevas, Josh Kun and Stephanie Syjuco. In 2016, he was one of three guest curators for the ninth Liverpool Biennial. In 2014, he co-curated Public Intimacy: Art and Other Ordinary Acts in South Africa, and in 2013 he served as a pedagogical curator of the ninth Mercosul Biennial in Porto Alegre, Brazil.
His published works include Public Servants: Art and the Crisis of the Common Good (MIT, 2016) and The Life and Death of Images: Ethics and Aesthetics (Cornell University Press, 2008). He is a former co-editor of the Journal of Visual Culture and developed a special issue, Visual Activism (Sage, 2016).
Willsdon is also an Associate Professor in Art Education at VCU. Previously, he taught at California College of the Arts and the Royal College of Art, London (1999–2005). He holds a DEA in Philosophy from the Université de Paris 12 and PhD in Philosophy from the University of Essex.
Director of AdministrationTraci Garland is responsible for developing and implementing policies that will both ensure the safety of works on view and encourage visitors to have engaging and inspiring experiences. She also provides critical operational and programmatic support to the ICA, and works to facilitate strong, strategic connections with VCU’s administrative units.
Garland has more than 10 years of experience working in Richmond’s vibrant arts community and within the dynamic environment of a public research university — most recently as Gallery Coordinator for VCUarts’ Anderson Gallery. There, she had a diverse array of responsibilities, including oversight of the University’s collection; logistical coordination for temporary exhibitions; event management and visitor services; and human resource administration.
Prior to working at the University, she completed VCU’s graduate art history program while working as a lab manager and senior technician at two Richmond-based conservation studios.
In 2008, she was also a technical conservation consultant for the Virginia State Capitol Building restoration project.
Garland is also an adjunct assistant professor in VCU’s Department of Art History. As a teacher, her primary interest is the exploration of innovative ways museums engage university-level students through real-world, practical experiences. Recently, she developed and taught a collections-based service learning course for VCU, which brought together art history undergraduate students and a local non-profit serving traumatized children. She also taught a collections management practices course for the Virginia Association of Museums’ online certificate program. In 2014, Garland and co-instructor Michael Lease were awarded a VCU Community Engagement grant to develop an interdisciplinary service learning course; the course culminated in an exhibition entitled Made in Church Hill, which was on view at Richmond’s Valentine Museum in 2015.
Carol Anne Baker Lajoie
Director of Development and External AffairsAs Director of Development and External Affairs, Carol Anne Baker Lajoie garners local, regional, and national support for the ICA’s mission, identifying and cultivating new donors, and stewarding relationships with our founding supporters. Baker Lajoie oversees the ICA’s overall communication efforts, maintaining strong relationships and a clear pipeline to external communication teams including VCU, local media, community and governmental organizations.
Lajoie has worked in development for Richmond area nonprofits for more than 15 years. Prior to joining the ICA, she served as the Chief Development Officer for the YWCA of Richmond, where she led fund development and marketing efforts including major gifts, annual fund, grants, foundations, corporations, and special events. During her tenure, the YW was granted an Impact 100 award, which radically transformed the non-profit’s emergency housing program. She and her team consistently met annual fund development goals in excess of $1M.
Baker Lajoie also spent 11 years at the Virginia Historical Society. There, she secured the last Save America’s Treasures grant to restore the museum’s at-risk Charles Hoffbauer Military Memorial Murals and secured sponsorship support for major exhibitions, collections, and capital improvements.
In addition to fundraising, she serves as chair of Impact 100, an all-female grantmaking collaborative that gives away as many as two, $100,0000 annual grants to transform area nonprofits. She delivered a TedxRVA Women talk in November of 2013. She also serves on the board of the Virginia Association of Fundraising Executives.
Director of Facilities, Installation, and Exhibition DesignMichael Lease oversees the development of crucial security and facilities protocols in preparation for the ICA opening, and has worked to establish high standards for all building operations. In conjunction with the Director and curatorial and education teams, he is helping develop plans to use the ICA as a research and teaching tool for students and interns.
Before joining the ICA, Lease was the Head of Exhibitions and Design at VCU’s Anderson Gallery, where he undertook the design and coordination of numerous individual and group exhibitions. At the Anderson Gallery, Lease worked closely with national and international artists, including Janine Antoni, Bright Ugochukwu Eke, Sarah Sze, and Brian Ulrich, on ambitious and often site-specific exhibitions. In 2010, Lease worked with Swiss artist Pipillotti Rist’s studio to mount the first U.S. showing of Gravity Be My Friend, an immersive installation that included an intricate sculptural carpet platform for viewing an organically shaped overhead projection that was integrated into the gallery’s 19th and 20th century architecture. For the 2015 exhibition Forecast, he worked with San Francisco-based artist Amy Balkin to develop a two-dimensional version of her work, A People’s Archive of Sinking and Melting, which addresses the effects of climate change across the globe.
In addition to his work as an exhibition designer, Lease is an artist and educator working to engage various Richmond communities through collaborative projects and exhibitions, to reveal and retain the complex and important stories of these communities. Since 2009, he has been a member of 1708 Gallery’s Board of Directors, serving as president in 2013, and he is a founder and board member of Milk River Arts, a new not-for-profit organization that provides career support for artists with special needs.
Curator of Education and EngagementAs a museum educator, Johanna Plummer is passionate about creating innovative, interdisciplinary programming that connects people and art.
Plummer has close to 20 years experience in museum education. Prior to joining the ICA, she served as the Georgette Auerbach Koopman Director of Education at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Connecticut. There, she was responsible for developing and launching the museum-wide Community Engagement Initiative (CEI) based on input from local constituents. New initiatives included: artist residencies that connected artists Claire Beckett, Jan Tichy, Deb Sokolow and Virgil Marti with the local community groups; the Connections Gallery, a series of experimental, cross collection installations that invited visitor participation; Second Saturdays for Families, a monthly program offering free admission and hands-on art making activities that encourage families to experience art together; Museum on the Move, a 4th grade multi-session art and literacy outreach program; the Community Arts Program that engages local youth both at the museum and off-site; and the Summer Pre-Collegiate Program that awards high school students with scholarships to a summer program at the Hartford Art School.
While at the Wadsworth, Plummer engaged evaluation consultants Randi Korn & Associates to clarify the intended impact of the Community Engagement Initiative, defining the desired effect on the target audiences served. She was also responsible for developing interpretative strategies and a strategic digital plan in preparation for the museum’s Contemporary and European reinstallations in 2015 that resulted in the development and installation of interactive touchscreens in the Cabinet of Art and Curiosities, a mobile tour and game, and a MATRIX digital timeline.
Prior to the Wadsworth Atheneum, Plummer worked at the Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania as the Curator of Education. At ICA Philadelphia, she was responsible for expanding targeted college audiences through programming and marketing. She developed and implemented Penn First Wednesday, a monthly program aimed at undergraduates, which resulted in deeper student engagement with exhibitions and a 16% increase in student visitation.
At ICA Philadelphia, Plummer also built community partnerships in collaboration with artists. She partnered with the Department of Human Services’ Achieving Independence Center (AIC) to develop exhibition interpretation and a documentary for the exhibition she co-curated, Trials and Turbulence: Pepón Osorio, an Artist in Residence at DHS. During exhibition planning, she conducted community focus groups and implemented recommendations to produce programs and interpretation that gave a voice to youth transitioning out of foster care. She partnered again with AIC members and local filmmakers to produce a documentary with and about exhibiting photographer Zoe Strauss.
Plummer has also served as head of education at the Museum of the Contemporary Art Cleveland, Harn Museum of Art at the University of Florida, and Miami Art Museum (now the Perez Art Museum Miami). She holds a Bachelor of Arts in the History of Art from the University of Pennsylvania and an M.A.T. in Museum Education from the George Washington University.
Chief CuratorStephanie Smith is a curator, writer, and arts leader committed to critical, collaborative, and experimental forms of museum practice and audience engagement. Her research interests focus on socially-engaged contemporary art, including the intersection of social practice and 21st-century cultural institutions.
Before joining the ICA, Smith was Chief Curator at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) in Toronto, one of the largest art museums in North America. There, she oversaw the curators, conservation, publications, and library and archives; and served on the Gallery’s Leadership Team. While at the AGO, she strengthened and built the curatorial team through key appointments, fostered new forms of cross-institutional collaboration, and developed a vibrant exhibition program. Key initiatives included overseeing the creative development and co-leading the advisory committee for Jean Michel Basquiat: Now’s the Time (2015) and crafting a vibrant exhibition schedule that includes pathbreaking AGO-generated projects such as Outsiders: American Photography and Film, 1950s–1980s (2016), Theaster Gates: How to Build a House Museum (2016), and Toronto: Tributes and Tributaries (2016). Smith also secured important traveling exhibitions, including the Tate Modern’s landmark Georgia O’Keeffe (2017) and the Hirshhorn’s Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors (2018).
Smith also has extensive experience working with university art museums. Before the AGO, she worked at the University of Chicago’s Smart Museum of Art for 15 years in several roles, including Deputy Director and Chief Curator. She was also a curator at the Rice University Art Gallery in Houston. She began her career as curatorial assistant at the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston.
Smith has organized many well-regarded exhibitions, including Song Dong’s Communal Courtyard, AGO, 2016; Feast: Radical Hospitality in Contemporary Art, Smart Museum, 2012 (winner of the Emily Hall Tremaine Exhibition Award); Adrian Piper: The Mythic Being, Smart Museum, 2006; Beyond Green: Toward a Sustainable Art, Smart Museum, 2004; Dawoud Bey: The Chicago Project, Smart Museum, 2003; and Sophie Calle: Romances, Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, 1994. Smith was one of the curators of AGORA: 4th Athens Biennale, Athens, Greece, 2013; and co-curated Heartland with Charles Esche and Kerstin Niemann at the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, the Netherlands, 2008 and Smart Museum, 2009.
Smith’s major projects include substantial books, and she has written for international contemporary art publications including Parkett and Afterall journal, for which she served as contributing editor. She also edited Institutions and Imaginaries (2014), a book that helped launch the Chicago Social Practice History Series overseen by Mary Jane Jacob and Kate Zeller.
Smith received her MA in Art History and her BA in History and Art History at Rice University.
Data Entry AssistantLara Belfield is responsible for maintaining the integrity of membership data and supporting the development of the membership program at the ICA. Belfield graduated with BA degrees in Art History and Historic Preservation from the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia. She then moved abroad to attend Kingston University London in Kingston-Upon-Thames, England, where she received a Master of Arts degree in Heritage (Contemporary Practice). While studying in England, she held positions at the New Ashgate Gallery and Craft Shop in Farnham, as well as the London Film Museum in the city’s Covent Garden neighborhood.
Today, in addition to her work at the ICA, she holds positions at the Valentine as a Visitor Services Associate and at Maymont as a mansion volunteer. She has loved learning about so many different aspects of the city’s history through her positions at these various cultural institutions, and is looking forward to increasing community engagement with the city’s contemporary arts culture through development of the ICA’s membership program.
Photo: Diego Valdez
Curatorial Production ManagerSamantha Best is the Curatorial Production Manager for the Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). At the ICA, she ensures that the curatorial exhibitions and programs are produced on schedule, on budget, and in support of the ICA’s mission and strategic goals. Best serves as a connector and liaison among key ICA staff as well as external stakeholders involved in exhibition production, and is the lead project manager for curatorial initiatives.
Prior to joining the ICA, Best spent six years as studio manager for artist Sanford Biggers, where she managed his exhibitions and projects at institutions including the Brooklyn Museum, MASSMoCA, and SculptureCenter. She has held curatorial fellowships at The Artist’s Institute and Hunter College Art Galleries, both in New York. She also runs an independent online curatorial project, Tête-à-tête (tete-ahh-tete.net).
Best is currently an MA student in art history at CUNY–Hunter College and holds a BA in art history from VCU (2008).
Communications ManagerLesley has spent the last 20 years telling the stories of organizations and people throughout Richmond, VA, and beyond. As Communications Manager at the ICA, she oversees the presentation of this exciting new contemporary arts institution to the public, with a particular focus on connecting the ICA to the broader Richmond community.
Prior to her arrival at the ICA, Lesley was a strategic planning consultant with Floricane, a local boutique agency that guides organizations through various phases of strategic development. From 2011 to 2015, she was the Communications Director for the Greater Richmond Chamber (now ChamberRVA), a regional membership organization representing nine jurisdictions.
She also has managed communications, marketing, and public relations for The Valentine, the city museum of Richmond, as well as the George Washington University’s Graduate School of Education in Washington, DC.
A graduate of VCU’s Mass Communications program, Lesley began her career covering local arts and culture for Richmond alt-weekly Punchline, and freelancing for various publications, including Richmond.com and RVANews. She holds a Master of Arts in Media and Public Affairs from the George Washington University, sits on the Board of the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities, and is attempting to gracefully raise a four year old daughter.
Senior Graphic DesignerMeredith Carrington brings more than 15 years of experience in design, art direction, and production to the ICA. As a member of the communications team, she is responsible for all aspects of the ICA’s visual identity.
Before joining the ICA, Carrington was Lead Graphic Designer at John Tyler Community College, where her work was recognized with 66 local, regional, and national communications awards. She also served as an adjunct instructor for graphic design and was an inaugural member of Tyler’s Council for Diversity and Inclusion. Prior to Tyler, she worked as a graphic designer for the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
In addition to her work for the ICA, Carrington provides pro bono design services to nonprofit organizations that support underserved youth in Richmond. Since 2002, she has worked with Camp Alkulana, a nonprofit summer camp serving low-income, at-risk children. Carrington’s work with Alkulana was recognized with an international design grant from SAPPI, as part of their Ideas that Matter initiative. Carrington also provides design support to Worthdays, a nonprofit dedicated to celebrating youth impacted by the foster care system.
Carrington is an alumna of Mary Baldwin University, where she graduated with distinction in Graphic Design. As a Richmond native, she is extremely excited to support the ICA’s mission to help shape powerful conversations through art.
Photo: Diego Valdez
Assistant CuratorAmber Esseiva brings a wealth of curatorial education and experience to the ICA team. From 2015 to 2016, she worked extensively curating exhibitions by emerging and mid-career artists. Highlights included Anything on a Surface has Space, a discursive event at The Judd Foundation; and a solo exhibition by artist and VCU alum Alina Tenser at A.I.R. Gallery.
Esseiva received her MA in 2015 from the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College (CCS Bard). At CCS Bard, she curated and co-curated numerous exhibitions featuring works by artists such as David Altmejd, Louisa Chase, Roe Ethridge, Gabriel Orozco, Jason Rhoades, Mika Rottenberg, Kenny Scharf, and Avery K. Singer. She also cofounded the interdisciplinary curatorial journal aCCeSsions and was appointed the curator of the 2014 MFA graduate thesis exhibition.
After her stay at CCS Bard, Esseiva was appointed director of Retrospective gallery in Hudson, NY; guest curator at the 2016 Glasgow International biennial festival of contemporary art; and curator at September gallery, in Hudson, NY, where she organized the Arcade Bloc performance series.
She holds a BA in Art History (2009) from VCU, and has also worked at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and VCU School of the Arts Anderson Gallery. In 2012, she was a guest curator at VCUQ in Doha, Qatar.
Associate Curator of Academic ProgramsErin Hanas brings experience working in art museums and academic publishing, as well as teaching art history. At the ICA, she develops and fosters opportunities for VCU students and faculty to meaningfully engage with the ICA and contemporary art.
Before joining the ICA, Hanas was the Coordinator of Academic Programs at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University. In addition to leading tours of exhibitions and study storage for university classes from a wide range of disciplines, Hanas curated installations inspired by Duke’s Common Experience Summer Reading books—Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy in 2016 and Allison Bechdel’s Fun Home in 2015. She also developed the popular Nasher Security Staff Picks brochure.
While at the Nasher, Hanas co-taught a graduate seminar on performance and performativity with Professor Kristine Stiles, which culminated in an exhibition of Paul and Damon McCarthy’s Pirate Party Photograph Portfolio. In 2016, Hanas collaborated on a new interdisciplinary Bass Connections team that is exploring links between physics and art.
Hanas’ passion for museum work began with internships at ZOOM Children’s Museum in Vienna, Austria; the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio Preservation Trust in Oak Park, Illinois; and at the Art Institute of Chicago. Hanas holds a BA in Art and German from Central College; an MA in Modern Art History, Theory, and Criticism from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago; and a PhD in Art History, with a focus on experimental art since 1945, from Duke University.
Michelle D. Hawkins
Financial Services and Human Resources CoordinatorMichelle Hawkins has more than 20 years of administrative business coordination experience in finance, human resources, and event planning. She has been part of the VCU community since 2002. Prior experiences include administrative support to various regulatory programs at the Virginia Department of Social Services, Department of Criminal Justice Services, and the Charitable Gaming Commission.
Hawkins is certified by the Society of Government Meeting Professionals as a Certified Government Meeting Professional and as a Virginia Contracting Associate by the Virginia Institute of Procurement. She is an active member of the Society of Government Meeting Professionals, having served on the board as First Vice-President chairing the Education Committee, and as Planner Director chairing the Membership Committee. During her tenure as Education Chairperson, Hawkins created several award-winning chapter education programs and was awarded Chapter Planner of the year in 2011. She is a Notary Public for the Commonwealth of Virginia and recently completed the 45th Henrico County Citizens Police Academy.
Hawkins has earned an Associates degree in Marketing from J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College (1989), A Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies with an emphasis in advocacy for minorities (2008) from Virginia Commonwealth University, and a Masters of Counseling (May 2016) from Liberty University.
Events + Scheduling CoordinatorBecky Hudson is responsible for facilitating the ICA’s internal programs and special events as well as coordinating with each department to schedule daily operations. She also manages the facility rentals program, promoting the ICA’s unique and striking building as one of Richmond’s premier event venues.
Hudson joins the ICA most recently from the Science Museum of Virginia (SMV), where she supported internal and external events. Prior to her time at the SMV, she managed building operations and special events for the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, D.C. For nearly five years, she helped increase Carnegie’s annual revenue goals, expanded their client base, and fostered lasting relationships with community partners. She prides herself in being a logistical guru and is excited to assist her ICA colleagues and rental clients with planning successful and memorable events.
Hudson earned her BA in English from the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and studied Heritage Preservation and Conservation at the University of Minnesota. With a passion for architecture, both old and new, she looks forward to being a steward for the remarkable building that is home to the ICA.
Education CoordinatorCaroline Legros is the Education Coordinator for the Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA) at Virginia Commonwealth University. She oversees the ICA’s group tour logistics, acting as a liaison between the ICA and visiting guests. To support the ICA’s focus on high school-aged visitors, she is helping to develop teacher and student materials that invite exploration of our new building. Legros is also part of the ICA’s cross-departmental evaluation team that will report on future visitor outcomes.
Before joining the ICA, Legros was a member of the education team at the Virginia Historical Society (VHS) for more than 15 years. During that time, she managed all in‐house educational programs. In her work with teachers and students, she created curriculum guides, educational videos, and digital resource materials. She was also part of the cross-departmental curatorial committee that redesigned The Story of Virginia permanent collection installation. In 2016, Legros curated the exhibition Illustrated Treasures, which focused on illustrations from children’s books within the VHS’s collection.
Legros holds a BA in French from VCU (2005) and has lived in Richmond since relocating from the Washington, D.C., area to pursue her degree. She looks forward to connecting the city’s students, teachers, and community members with the exciting programming that will take place at the ICA
Executive Assistant to the DirectorMaggie Mills-Dlugokeski has more than 15 years of experience making the lives of busy executives easier. She has supported the leadership of several notable academic and government organizations. At the ICA she serves as the primary coordinator of the Director’s daily activities and manages the workflow of the Director’s office.
Before joining the ICA, Mills-Dlugokeski was an Executive Assistant at the Supreme Court of Virginia supporting the Access to Justice Commission. Prior to the Supreme Court, she supported the Director and Deputy Director of the Space Telescope Science Institute, a multi-mission operations center for NASA located on Johns Hopkins University Campus in Baltimore, MD. There she gained experience working in a collegiate, political, and multicultural environment with people from around the world. Additionally, she acquired several years of customer service training and experience while working for Verizon Communications. Her last position with Verizon provided administrative support to the Director of Construction for the state of Virginia.
Mills-Dlugokeski is currently completing certification as an administrative professional, is working toward certification in event planning, and plans to continue her studies in business administration.
Adjunct Assistant Curator of FilmEnjoli Moon is the Adjunct Assistant Curator of Film at the ICA. A Richmond native, Moon is the Founding Creative Director of Richmond’s Afrikana Independent Film Festival, an annual multi-day festival that presents the cinematic works of people of color and brings filmmakers, artists, activists, and community members together.
Moon is devoted to sharing diverse cinema, focusing on the global Black narrative, with the community at large. She will bring her expansive knowledge of film detailing the experience of the African diaspora to the ICA, while also developing film programs that complement the ICA’s exhibition program and institutional vision more broadly. Her film programming will be accompanied by conversations and experiences that connect audiences to the films, to key social issues, and to each other. She will continue to run Afrikana as an independent non-profit, separate from her work for the ICA.
Prior to joining the ICA, Moon worked as a freelance film curator and as a marketing and social media specialist throughout the region. Moon studied sociology at Virginia Commonwealth University and attended Virginia State University.
Marketing and Production AssistantChelsea Neal is responsible for managing project workflow and the ICA’s digital communications, primarily the e-news and social media programs. She has held various positions at several cultural institutions around Richmond, including the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Visual Arts Center of Richmond, and Maymont. Prior to joining the ICA, she served as Publications Assistant at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, where she specialized in production management, writing and editing, and front-end web content management.
Neal earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, VA, where she graduated with honors in Art History. Her research interests center around political and social influences on Renaissance and Baroque art as well as cross-cultural interactions throughout art history.
As a Richmond native, Neal is thrilled to be a part of the ICA’s inaugural team and looks forward to being a part of the Institute’s exciting impact on her hometown.
Daniel A. Nemer
Visitor Services ManagerDaniel Nemer helps us create a positive visitor experience, ensure the safety of all guests and works of art, and make the Membership enrollment process a seamless one.
Nemer has more than 15 years of customer service experience -- and a deep passion for the arts. After relocating to Richmond, he joined to Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in 2010 for the opening of their expansion project. As Lead Museum Associate, he facilitated the visitor experience for numerous blockbuster exhibitions from around the globe, and as a member of the museum’s Staff Association and Employee Engagement Task Force, he aided in creating an enjoyable and cohesive work environment for those around him.
Nemer earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan in 2007, where he majored in History and Psychology. and he looks forward to helping create an inviting environment for students, artists, the Richmond community, and guests from around the world.
Photo: Diego Valdez
Membership and Development CoordinatorSusan Norkus is responsible for enhancing the ICA’s relationship with donors through stewardship initiatives. A recent graduate of VCU School of the Arts, she earned a master’s degree in Art History with a concentration in Museum Studies. Her thesis explored K-12 educational programs at non-collecting contemporary art museums, including university art museums.
During graduate school, Norkus co-curated Anywhere But Now, an installation of contemporary art in Richmond’s historic Wilton House Museum. The exhibition was presented at the American Alliance of Museum’s Emerging Innovators Forum. Norkus also held internships at VCU’s Anderson Gallery and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Prior to becoming the Donor Relations Associate, she was an administrative assistant at the ICA. As the second person hired, her responsibilities ranged from supporting the Director’s office to co-producing the ICA’s introductory video, Richmond’s Missing Piece (Milkbox studio; Andrew Bordwin and Adam Ames, directors; 2014).
A native of Raleigh, North Carolina, Norkus developed an early appreciation for the arts through volunteer opportunities at the North Carolina Museum of Art and local non-profits, Artspace and Arts Together. She holds a BA in Art History from Denison University.
iCubed Arts FellowPaul Rucker is a VCU iCubed Arts Fellow embedded at the ICA. Rucker is a visual artist, composer, and musician who often combines media, integrating live performance, sound, original compositions, and visual art. His work is the product of a rich interactive process, through which he investigates community impact, human rights issues, historical research, and basic human emotions surrounding particular subject matter. Much of his current work focuses on the prison-industrial complex and the many issues accompanying incarceration in its relationship to slavery. He has presented performances and visual art exhibitions across the country and has collaborated with educational institutions to address the issue of mass incarceration. Presentations have taken place in schools, active prisons, and inactive prisons such as Alcatraz.
He is a 2012 Creative Capital grantee in visual art as well as a 2014 Multi-Arts Production Fund grantee for performance. In 2013-15, he was the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation Artist in Residence and Research Fellow at the Maryland Institute and College of Art. In 2015, he was awarded a Joan Mitchell Painters and Sculptors grant.He was most recently awarded a 2017 John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship.
This Fall, VCU’s School of the Arts, Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA), and Department of African American Studies launched the Racial Equity, Arts and Culture Transdisciplinary Core, an initiative founded through VCU’s Institute for Inclusion, Inquiry and Innovation, known as iCubed. Founded in July 2015, iCubed builds human capital across the university and community. It connects multiple disciplines and lived experiences through the creation of transdisciplinary cores—university community partnerships that endeavor to solve problems disproportionately affecting populations in urban areas. The mission of the Racial Equity, Arts and Culture Transdisciplinary Core is to foster critical dialogue about, and develop mechanisms for, advancing the fair treatment of people of all races in and through arts and culture.
Donor Relations AssociateRachel Southard is responsible for all administrative aspects of development and donor relations activities for the ICA, providing support in fundraising activities, stewardship initiatives, and special events.
Southard is a recent graduate of VCU School of Business, earning a master’s in Business Administration through the VCU Executive MBA program. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies with a minor in Dance from Christopher Newport University.
With a history of working for VCU, she has held various positions at the university, including Stewardship Assistant in Development and Alumni Relations, Program Coordinator for Cardiology at VCU Health, and now as the Donor Relations Associate at the ICA.
Southard has been an active member in the local arts community, performing in several pre-professional companies, serving as instructor and choreographer for multiple local dance and theatre companies, and chairing the dance department at Swift Creek Academy of the Performing Arts.
Retail ManagerAs retail manager, Egbert Vongmalaithong manages all aspects of the ICA shop, which includes buying, merchandising, operations, and customer relations. He is committed to offering the most relevant publications on contemporary art and envisions a space fueled by community.
Vongmalaithong comes to the ICA with a wealth of retail experience from online eyewear company Warby Parker, and lifestyle store Need Supply Co., where he assisted in the store’s reopening after a major renovation in November 2016. He believes that retail is an opportunity to engage with new and interesting people every day.
Vongmalaithong received his BFA from VCUarts Sculpture and Extended Media program in 2012. While studying at VCU, he had the opportunity to travel to Doha, Qatar, as a visiting artist and to workshop ideas on student-run galleries. After graduating, he joined a modern dance company under the direction of Starr Foster and danced with them until late 2015. He currently continues an independent practice in movement and writing.
Photo: Diego Valdez
Co-chairA co-chair of the ICA Campaign Committee, Steve Markel has been with Markel Corp. since 1975 and has served as its Vice Chairman since 1992. Markel Corporation is a Fortune 500 holding company for insurance, reinsurance and investments operations around the world. His current and recent philanthropic activities include: School of Business Foundation Board of Directors, Virginia Commonwealth University; Board of Trustees, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts; and Church Hill North, a community development project in Richmond, VA. Markel received a B.S. in finance from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania in 1970.
Co-chairA co-chair of the ICA Campaign Committee, William A. Royall Jr. is the founder of Royall & Company, a national marketing firm that provides enrollment management and fundraising services for more than 300 colleges and universities. He recently served as a member of the Virginia Commonwealth University Board of Visitors, including two years as Vice-Rector. He currently serves on the executive committee of the VCU Real Estate Foundation Board and is a former member of the VCU Health System Board. Royall was a journalism major at VCU and Executive Editor of the Commonwealth Times.
Vice-chairMelody Barnes is co-founder and principal of MB2 Solutions LLC, a domestic strategy firm, and a senior fellow and Compton Visiting Professor in World Politics in the Miller Center at the University of Virginia. She also is a distinguished fellow in the UVA School of Law. Ms. Barnes serves on the Board of Directors of Ventas, Inc., Booz Allen Hamilton Holding Corporation, the Marguerite Casey Foundation, and Year Up. Barnes also chairs the Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions and Opportunity Youth Incentive Fund. From January 2009 until January 2012, Barnes was Assistant to President Obama and Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council. Until July 2008, she was the Executive Vice President for Policy at the Center for American Progress, a progressive research institute and think tank. From 1998 until 2003, Barnes served as chief counsel to Senator Edward M. Kennedy on the Senate Judiciary Committee. This is Barnes’ first collaboration with VCU.
SecretaryA member of the ICA Capital Campaign Committee, Marcia Thalhimer has been a long-time supporter of the arts, serving on the Board of Directors of the Richmond Symphony for 25 years as well as the Boards of the Visual Arts Center of Richmond and the Richmond Performing Arts Alliance. In 2000, she received the YWCA Outstanding Women Award in the Arts category. In addition, Thalhimer served as Commissioner of the Virginia Commission for the Arts from 2009–14 and has been honored for her dedication to arts and culture in Richmond, including recognition as a 2015 Style Weekly Women in the Arts honoree.
Pamela K. Royall
ChairPam is a native of Minnesota and a graduate of Carleton College, where she currently serves as a Trustee. She holds an M.B.A. (Minnesota State University) and Ph.D. in Business Administration (University of Colorado-Boulder). Pam served on the business faculties at several public and private universities for more than 25 years, most recently at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). Pam chaired the Department of Marketing in VCU’s School of Business (1996-2002) and founded the Interactive Marketing Institute (IMI) in 1998.
Pam currently serves on the Foundation Board of the VCU School of Business and is Immediate-Past Chair of VCU’s Massey Cancer Center Advisory Board. She is a member of the boards of the Virginia Historical Society and 1708 Gallery, where she previously served as President. Pam is employed as Head of Research for EAB Enrollment Services (formerly Royall & Company).
Along with Steve and Kathie Markel, Pam and her husband Bill Royall co-chaired the campaign committee for the VCU ICA. They also are active supporters of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and other arts organizations throughout the country. Together, Pam and Bill created Try-me, an art space in Richmond’s Uptown arts district that houses contemporary art from their collection. Through events and activities at Try-me, Pam and Bill support artists and arts educators and foster an environment for learning and philanthropy.
Brad ArmstrongBrad Armstrong comes to the ICA with 35 years’ experience in senior general management, marketing, and advertising positions with a strong emphasis on US consumer products and services, as well as a four-year leadership commitment to community service.
Kathie MarkelKathie Markel has been involved with numerous community organizations over the past 20 years both through board membership and volunteer efforts. Included in those is involvement with VCU and partnering with her husband Steve regarding several philanthropic and volunteer endeavors.
Alec ReynoldsComing Soon
Carolyn Snow (Image coming soon)Carolyn Snow is a longtime Richmond resident and an advocate of the arts. She is an enthusiastic supporter of the VCU School of the Arts, Pollak Society, and the Institute for Contemporary Art. Carolyn particularly felt connected to the ICA through her good friend Beverly Reynolds and served as a member of the ICA Capital Campaign Committee.
Harry ThalhimerHarry R. Thalhimer has been a Trustee of the MCV Foundation since 2009 and is excited to serving as Board Chair for the next two years.
A graduate of Northwestern University and the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, Harry began his career in retailing with Marshall Fields in Chicago and returned to Richmond in 1978 to work for Thalhimers. In 1997 he purchased AJD, a leading headwear manufacturer, and launched Thalhimer Headwear. Over the past 20 years, the company has continued to manufacture casual headwear for leading brands in the retail, fashion, corporate and outdoor markets across the United States, Europe and Scandinavia.
Harry’s involvement at VCU spans 30+ years and includes his work on the MCV Campus, the School of Business, the Institute for Contemporary Art, VCU’s Fashion Department, VCU Athletics and the Brand Center. Other community involvement includes work with the Jewish Community Federation, VMFA, Goodwill Industries, the Richmond Symphony and more.
Harry and his wife Marcia have been married for 37 years. They have two sons, Michael (Alyson) and Andrew, and recently welcome their first grandchild, Rose.
Diana Al-HadidSyrian-born and Brooklyn-based artist Diana Al-Hadid is known for her works on Mylar, panels and monumental sculptures of seemingly impossible architecture and abstracted imagery. Working with common materials, such as polymer gypsum, plaster, fiberglass, wood, and steel, Al-Hadid creates structures that simultaneously soar and dissolve in space. At first glance, it would appear the artist removes material to reveal the form. Her approach, however, is in fact additive, the result of methodical layering and controlled drips, best exemplified by the panels—a perfect marriage of her drawing and sculpture practices. With a technique not dissimilar to fresco, she impregnates the material with pigment, creating paintings that can imbed directly into the architecture or hang on the wall. Al-Hadid’s rich, formal allusions cross cultures and disciplines, drawing inspiration from myriad sources including architecture, ancient invention, science, myth, and Old Master works. The latter prompted less by subject matter, but rather Renaissance artists’ examination and demonstration of perspective. Al-Hadid has further expanded her practice to include outdoor sculpture.
Al-Hadid first exhibited at Marianne Boesky Gallery in 2012 and, since then, has had solo exhibitions at the Akron Museum of Art, Akron, OH (2013); the Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, NC (2013); and at Secession, Vienna, Austria (2014). Works from her exhibition at Secession traveled to the NYU Art Gallery, Abu Dhabi in March 2016. She also had solo exhibitions at the Newcomb Art Museum, Tulane University (2016), and the San Jose Museum of Art (2017). Al-Hadid’s work is included in public collections such as The Museum of Fine Arts Houston, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the Weatherspoon Art Museum, the Toledo Museum of Art, the San Jose Museum of Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.
Shawn BrixeyShawn Brixey is Dean of the School of the Arts (VCUarts), at Virginia Commonwealth University, in Richmond, Virginia. He is the Special Assistant to the Provost for the School of the Arts in Qatar, VCUarts international branch campus located in Doha, Qatar. Brixey also is a professor in the School of the Arts and an Affiliate Professor in the School of Engineering. A graduate of the Kansas City Art Institute in sculpture and experimental media, and The Media Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in environmental design, architecture, engineering, media arts and sciences, Brixey is best known for pioneering complex (STEM to STEAM) artworks that synthesize physics, astronomy, cosmology, biology and computing. Preceding his appointment as Dean at VCU School of the Arts, Brixey was Dean of the School of the Arts, Media, Performance and Design (AMPD) at York University in Toronto, Canada. Under Brixey’s leadership, he led the historic name and identity change of the Faculty of Fine Arts, becoming The School of the Arts, Media, Performance and Design (AMPD).
Brian BrownBrian P. Brown Ph.D. is an Associate Professor in the Department of Marketing at Virginia Commonwealth University. His research interests include brand strategy, business-to-business marketing, and product management. He earned his Ph.D. degree from Georgia State University, his MBA degree from Duke University and his BA degree from the University of Virginia. Dr. Brown has published articles in several of marketing's top academic journals including the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, International Journal of Research in Marketing, Industrial Marketing Management, Journal of Brand Management and Journal of Business Research. He serves on the Editorial Review Board of Industrial Marketing Management. Dr. Brown has over 15 years of experience in marketing, management and consulting. Specifically, his background includes several years at The Coca-Cola Company, including a role as Brand Manager of Coca-Cola classic. More recently, he was Vice President of Marketing at Snapper Power Equipment.
Marc CheathamMarc Cheatham is a freelance writer and photographer. In 2011, he launched The Cheats Movement Blog, a platform that celebrates the Richmond region as a hub for music, art, culture, and diversity. The Cheats Movement Blog and collection of podcasts have been voted one of the best independent media platforms in Richmond, and Marc has become one of the leading voices for Richmond's hip-hop community.
Professionally, Marc serves as Director of Constituent Services and Casework for Senator Tim Kaine. He is married to Aria Cheatham and together they have a 3-year old son named Cameron.
Rachel GoslinsRachel Goslins is the Director of the Arts & Industries Building at the Smithsonian Institution. She is responsible for all aspects of developing and implementing plans to re-open the building to the public, after being closed for almost 14 years, as a space to explore creativity, innovation and the future. Prior to that, she served as Executive Director of the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, an advisory committee to the White House on cultural policy, from 2009 until late 2015. Under her management, the Committee launched several major national initiatives in education and cultural diplomacy, facilitated federal and private funding for arts and humanities programs across the country, and spearheaded a successful campaign to use high-profile artists, actors and musicians as advocates for arts education. Earlier in her career, Rachel founded a documentary production company, directing feature documentaries and working on productions for the Public Broadcasting Service, the Discovery Channel, the National Geographic Channel, and History. She also served as the Director of the Independent Digital Distribution Lab, a joint PBS/ITVS project. Before working in the arts, Rachel was an international copyright attorney with Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher and the U.S. Copyright Office. Rachel received her B.A. in English Literature and her J.D. from UCLA's School of Law. She is a 2012 Henry Crown Fellow of the Aspen Institute and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network.
Allison HeerwagenAllison Heerwagen is in her third year in the Graphic Design Department at VCUarts. Design appeals to her because of its opportunity and propensity to reach both the unsuspecting masses and niche communities. Allison is passionate about advocating for interactions with art and design that would be otherwise unlikely. She is also interested in finding ways to have more meaningful cross-cultural involvement with art through her work in VCU Globe, an international living-learning community, and her studies towards an anthropology minor.
William S. MarshallWilliam (Bill) Marshall is Vice President of Investor Relations for Altria Client Services. He has been leading Altria’s investor relations program since July 2016. His primary responsibilities include: developing and implementing investor relations strategies and key messages, maintaining strong relationships with the investment community, and managing the IR team. Prior to joining Altria, Bill worked at Barclays in the Equity Research Department for eight years as Vice President and Senior Equity Research Analyst. Bill led the U.S. Beverage & Tobacco Equity Research team, covering domestic beverage and tobacco stocks representing more than $750 billion of market capitalization. Before Barclays, Bill worked at Lehman Brothers and Citigroup.
Paul MonroePaul Monroe is a retired Richmond-based gastroenterologist, who, along with his wife, is an avid collector of contemporary art. He is currently on the Virginia Museum of Fine Art’s Board of Directors and was a member of the ICA’s Campaign Committee.
Dr. Deborah Noble-TriplettDr. Deborah Noble-Triplett serves as the senior vice provost for academic affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University. Dr. Noble-Triplett joined VCU in January 2016. As senior vice provost, Dr. Noble-Triplett provides leadership over all academic programs to ensure integrity, quality and transparency as well as provides oversight over policies and procedures governing the undergraduate and graduate curriculum.
Prior to 2016, Dr. Noble-Triplett was assistant vice president for academic affairs at the University of Missouri System. In that position, Dr. Noble-Triplett provided leadership and supported campus activities in areas related to non-tenure track faculty, campus climate, faculty recruitment, retention and development, international programs, strategic enrollment management and review of new and the assessment of current degree programs. She led and supported talent management for faculty and the P-20 initiative.
Before moving into academic administration, Dr. Noble-Triplett was an assistant professor of human resources and organizational behavior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She has also worked as a research associate at the Fraser Center for Workplace Issues at Wayne State University and held positions in human resources at Ford Motor Company and in community affairs at the Quaker Oats Company Foundation.
Dr. Noble-Triplett presented and published research on strategic human resource management, international human resource management and industrial relations and work team motivation, involvement and effectiveness. Her work applies the theories and models of organizational behavior in a higher education context and involves process improvement and organization performance.
Dr. Noble-Triplett received a bachelor's degree in human development and social policy with an emphasis in organizational sciences from Northwestern University. She received a master's degree in industrial relations and a doctorate in I/O psychology, management and industrial relations from Wayne State University.
Brian ShawA leader in fundraising, communications, strategic planning and crisis management, Mr. Shaw joined the Office of the President at Virginia Commonwealth University in November 2013. He serves as a senior advisor to President Michael Rao.
Before joining VCU Mr. Shaw served as president of the George C. Marshall Foundation, a research library, museum and foundation in Lexington, Virginia, from 2008 to 2013. Prior to that he served as the Marshall Foundation’s executive vice president for development and communications for eight years. As president, Mr. Shaw was engaged in all aspects of the Foundation. He was instrumental in the development of the Foundation’s leadership programs and international initiatives. Before joining the Marshall Foundation, Mr. Shaw served as associate vice president for communications at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, overseeing the University’s strategic communications and publications program.
Mr. Shaw has been active in civic affairs, having served on the Lexington City Council, the Rockbridge Area Economic Development Commission (chair), the Rockbridge Community Services Board (chair), the Rockbridge Tourism Board (chair), the Rockbridge Area YMCA (vice chair), the Literacy Volunteers of America, and the Lexington Rotary Club.
Mr. Shaw is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and the Executive Program at the Darden School of Business Administration at the University of Virginia.
Ting XuTing Xu, a Shanghai, China native, founded Evergreen Enterprises in her Richmond, Virginia suburban home in 1993 with $20,000. From a small decorative flag line, Evergreen has grown to be one of the leading gift, garden, and home decor companies in North America, with over 1,400 employees. Under her leadership the Company has completed numerous successful acquisitions including the 2010 purchase of Plow & Hearth, a multi-channel retailer of home, garden, and children’s products; the 2012 purchase of Team Sports America, a provider of licensed sports novelty items; and the 2014 purchase of VivaTerra, a multi-channel retailer of high-design home decor.
Ting serves on various Boards including the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond Center Stage, and Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Business. She is an advocate for Chinese-American relations, sponsoring events like the VMFA's Forbidden City, the Richmond Ballet's Road to China, and numerous political and economic development events locally and in China. Ting is an active angel investor in a variety of industries including consumer products, healthcare, financial services, and technology in both the US and China. She lives in Goochland, Virginia with her husband Frank and two children.