Portrait of Anna E. von Gehr

CONTACT: Emma Coates
Office of Development and Alumni Relations
(804) 828-2694

Virginia Commonwealth University hires executive director of development and strategic initiatives for School of the Arts
Art museum veteran Anna E. von Gehr will join VCU on Jan. 1

RICHMOND, Va. (Nov. 28, 2019) – Anna E. von Gehr has been named executive director of development and strategic initiatives for the Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts, the premier public graduate school of arts and design in the United States, effective Jan. 1.

Von Gehr is currently the chief officer for advancement and external affairs at The John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Florida. In her new role, she will work closely with VCUarts’ senior leadership, diverse departments, academic leadership and volunteers to initiate relationships, steward donors and increase participation from the school’s alumni. She will report to Shawn Brixey, dean of the School of the Arts and special assistant to the provost for the School of the Arts in Qatar.

“Anna’s experience will help us deepen our connection to our alumni and local community as we expand VCUarts’ narrative as a collaborative leader among the schools of the Arts, Medicine and Business and the College of Engineering,” Brixey said. “We look forward to a new model for the advancement of VCUarts—centered around creativity and innovation.”

Under von Gehr’s leadership, The Ringling’s operating budget has grown from $12 million to $21 million since 2013 as a result of philanthropy more than doubling and strategic changes to earned revenue streams. Attendance has also increased, from 300,000 to over 400,000 annual visitors, and awareness of the museum has expanded nationally and internationally.

“Anna has accomplished much during her tenure at The Ringling,” said Steven High, The Ringling’s Executive Director, “and with the successful completion of our $100 million comprehensive campaign this year, she departs on a high note. We will miss her creativity, energy and fundraising acumen that has served The Ringling well these past five years.”

Before her role at The Ringling, von Gehr was director of university arts development at the University of Virginia, where she directed the final phase of the $100 million comprehensive Arts Grounds Campaign, part of U.Va.’s $3 billion fundraising campaign. She has also served in development positions at Washington and Lee University, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and Montana State University.

A graduate of the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she completed an undergraduate degree in history, and of San Francisco State University, where she earned an M.A. in museum studies, von Gehr is a member of the American Alliance of Museums and was recognized in 2017 with the Women in Business Initiative Leadership Circle Award.

“Anna’s rich background in philanthropy, as well as her extensive knowledge of arts management and best practices, will be an unbelievable asset to the School of the Arts,” said VCU Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations Jay E. Davenport, CFRE. “We are excited to welcome her and can’t wait to see how she will build on and elevate the school’s strong relationships with alumni, community leaders, donors, corporations and foundations to increase support and engagement.”

Von Gehr said, “Joining the VCUarts team and returning to the extraordinary Richmond community is nothing short of inspiring. I am honored to assume this new role in service of VCUarts’ students, faculty, staff and donors as we work together to drive creative daring and innovative arts-based research.”


About Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts

VCUarts has been the top-ranked public university visual arts and design program in the country for more than 10 years, according to U.S. News & World Report. Undergraduate and graduate classes in the school’s 16 departments and programs are taught by a distinguished faculty of professional artists, designers, and scholars. VCUarts is part of a vibrant, arts-centered community with global influence. The School is part of a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research and a deep commitment to diversity, community, discovery, and innovation.


November 28, 2018