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Special treatment The new VTCC will transform regional children’s mental health services

Why we give ... “During a recent conversation with a friend about giving, we spoke about passion – actually giving to programs that you are passionate about. Living near VCU, we attend many varied university events. Each time, we are made keenly aware of the curiosity, talent, involvement and expertise of our faculty and students. Our passions run from nursing and the Rice Rivers Center to music and the university library. We give to support departmental programming and the recognition of student scholarship.” Kay and Art Seidenberg

Black & Gold Loyalty Society members with 23 consecutive years of giving

To learn more about the Black & Gold Loyalty Society, visit

Bromby Earle undergoes radiation therapy at VCU Massey Cancer Center. See article, Page 20.

Features 2

Making waves



Bright futures


Successful plein air painter André Lucero credits a scholarship he received as an art student in the 1980s with giving him the confidence to pursue his career. The new Virginia Treatment Center for Children will transform mental health services for the region’s kids when it opens this fall.

Open 24 hours

Robertson School students stay up all night to deliver creative services to local nonprofits during the annual CreateAthon event.

Crowd funding

How is the money raised by runners for Massey Cancer Center in the Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k used? We take a look at the race toward a cure for cancer.

On the cover Artist’s rendering of the new Virginia Treatment Center for Children, set to open in fall 2017

Rendering Cannon Design

Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations Marti K.S. Heil • Development and Alumni Relations Communications Melanie Irvin Seiler (B.S.‘96/H&S),, (804) 828-3975; Mitchell Moore (B.S.’07/MC; M.S.’08/E),, (804) 827-3617; Emma Coates,, (804) 828-2694; Brelyn Powell,, (804) 828-3797 Impact is published quarterly by the Virginia Commonwealth University Office of Development and Alumni Relations. The views and opinions expressed in this publication do not necessarily represent those of the editorial staff or the university. © 2017, Virginia Commonwealth University, an equal opportunity, affirmative action university • 1

MAKING WAVES As a student at the VCU School of the Arts in the 1980s, André Lucero received a big boost from a scholarship that recognized his talents and helped him pay for his tuition. More than 30 years later, Lucero still credits that scholarship with giving him the confidence to pursue a career as a plein air painter – a field in which he is garnering significant recognition and acclaim. By Brelyn Powell

2 • Impact

Lucero at Acadia National Park in Maine, painting “You Can Feel the Power” Photo Erin Lucero • 3


aking in the sights and sounds around him, painter André Lucero (B.A.’89/A) has placed himself in front of Tuckahoe Plantation, the boyhood home of Thomas Jefferson, built in the 1700s. “The weather is perfect, the birds are singing and in front of me is a beautiful, historic landmark,” says Lucero, who lives not far from the plantation, in Goochland, Virginia. “It’s a breathtaking scene, and I feel that way about so many beautiful places that I have seen and painted. My goal is always to translate those feelings into my paintings.”

Lucero’s “Sunset Over the Dock” (2012), the painting that made the cover of PleinAir magazine. Left: Lucero in Lexington, Virginia, in 2015

Lucero discovered the plein air scene a few years ago. Named for the French term “en plein air,” meaning “in the open air,” its practitioners paint on location rather than in their studios. Since embracing the style, Lucero has made a name for himself in the field. In February, he was featured on the cover of the well-regarded PleinAir Magazine, which boasts a readership of more than 100,000. Plein air painters from around the world frequently assemble for weeklong juried events in picturesque destinations to paint outside en masse. These events attract hundreds of applicants, but only dozens are

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chosen to participate. This year, Lucero was selected to take part in 12 events in places such as the deserts of San Angelo, Texas, and the serene harbors of Cape Ann, Maine. In June, he was one of 30 artists participating in Plein Air Richmond, where he had the opportunity to reminisce on his days living in the city’s Fan district as a student at Virginia Commonwealth University. “It was fun for me to experience Richmond in that way,” Lucero says, adding that he has a special place in his heart for the city, where he got his start as an artist.

Photos Kevin Schindler (left); Andre Lucero (right)

Although he makes his living as a painter now, Lucero’s first career was in illustration. After earning a degree in Communication Arts and Design from the VCU School of the Arts, he worked as a freelance illustrator and had his work featured in publications including the New York Times, Playboy and U.S. News & World Report. “I enjoyed the work, but my heart has always been for fine art,” Lucero says. After 10 years as an illustrator, he made the decision to follow his true passion. Lucero credits his time at VCU for giving him confidence in his work and his ability to take risks in his career. When he came to VCU as a transfer student, he was quickly recognized for his talent. In the spring of his first year, he was named the inaugural recipient of the Mallory Callan Memorial Scholarship. “As a young student, that recognition helped me realize that I had what it was going to take to pursue art as a career,” Lucero says. “I was able to focus on my art and academic work without the stress of worrying how I was going to afford tuition.” The full-tuition award, given annually to one illustration student based on need, merit and creative ability, honors former VCU faculty member Mallory Callan (M.F.A.’84/A). Callan, a professional illustrator, became a professor at VCU in 1978 after moving to Richmond from New York City. After eight years in VCU’s Communication Arts and Design department, Callan passed away in 1986 following a brief illness. Friends, faculty and former students commemorated his service to VCU by establishing a scholarship in his honor that same year. “He was certainly an early role model for me,” says Jim Nuttle (B.F.A.’81/A), former student and donor to the fund. “He was probably the first professional illustrator I had ever met, and having him as a professor gave me the chance to learn from someone who had found success in the field that I was pursuing.” Nuttle took one of Callan’s courses in 1978 and remembers the course challenging him and his classmates to embrace an expanded view of the world.

“He really encouraged us to think critically about our work and how we approached the creative process,” says Nuttle, who has carried that advice with him throughout his career in design and illustration. The Mallory Callan Memorial Scholarship has also received support from other graduates of the School of the Arts who want to provide students in the Communication Arts and Design department with the same quality of educational experience they had. “My education at VCU gave me a strong background in graphic design, and without that background, the career that I’ve had would not have been possible,” says Susan Jenkins (B.F.A.’69/A), who, after graduating, worked as a graphic designer before opening her own advertising agency. Although she never knew Callan, Jenkins contributed $10,000 to the scholarship when it was established. Scholarships often provide students with more than just financial assistance. To learn more about Lucero’s For students like Lucero who have work, visit demonstrated extraordinary ability, they To watch Lucero and other plein air painters in action, visit also provide deserved recognition. “Merit-based scholarship funding is encouragement and acknowledgement for the stellar efforts of exceptional, high-achieving students,” says James Frazier, Ed.D., M.F.A., interim dean for the VCU School of the Arts. “These awards show students that we see them, we value them and that their success is important to us.” Lucero’s talents have continued to propel his success, as they did during his time as a student. His paintings, which sell at prices ranging from $1,000 to $12,500 and are featured in galleries along the East Coast, have earned him a reputation as a gifted and dedicated artist. “Being an artist is a love affair with beauty,” Lucero says. “That’s what drives the work I do. It just so happens this is how I make my living.”

Online extra

To learn more about the School of the Arts, contact Julia Carr, executive director of development, at (804) 828-4676 or • 5

“It’s going to be one of the most beautiful, welcoming, functional facilities for kids and families in the world.” – Joel Silverman, M.D., James Asa Shield Jr. Professor and chair, VCU School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry

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By Emma Coates

Artist’s rendering of the new building • 7

TURNING POINT Burke’s path to the VTCC had been a long one. She had experienced anxiety throughout her childhood, and by the time she was in fourth grade, it was manifesting in an obsession with perfectionism at school, among other things. She saw physicians, counselors and various specialists and was tired of the Rorschach tests and talking about her feelings. “By the time I had gotten to the VTCC, truth be known, I didn’t want to be going anywhere,” Burke says. But despite the negative impressions of her surroundings, which stayed with her throughout the entire course of her experience, her arrival there marked a major turning point in her life. She was diagnosed with anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder. Her doctor, the first specialist in the field she’d seen, put her at ease with his specific, relatable questions, and he paired his behavioral treatment with a medication that relieved her symptoms. The VTCC had provided a foundation for how she continues to manage her mental health to this day. 8 • Impact

Burke returned to the VTCC recently, about 25 years after her first visit. “Though they’ve done a good job trying to brighten it up, it’s still very similar to how I remember it,” she says. But while the VTCC hasn’t changed much, the mental health landscape has. “Unfortunately, it’s a growth industry,” says Joel Silverman, M.D., the James Asa Shield Jr. Professor, chair of the VCU School of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry and a practicing psychiatrist. “No. 1, the suicide rate is going up. Two, more children are being diagnosed with autism and other brain disorders than 10 or 20 years ago. Three, there is an opioid epidemic and crisis in the commonwealth of Virginia. Four, there are not enough properly trained professionals to deal with the community need. Five, our department receives 1,200 calls asking for help every month, and we can only take in a small percentage of those cases.” Hand-in-hand with an increase in diagnoses and in the societal problems that result in a need for care, Silverman says, is a decrease in the stigma surrounding mental illness, leading to more people reaching out for help. While this is undeniably a good thing, it squeezes resources even more. Last year, the VTCC cared for 990 children requiring inpatient care and had more than 7,000 outpatient visits. In addition to an infrastructure that has become increasingly unsuitable for modern mental health care, the facility is now dealing with a level of demand it cannot meet.

DAY AND NIGHT Thankfully, the number of children in Virginia who can be served, the speed with which they can be seen and the quality of their treatment are set to improve dramatically when a new, much-improved VTCC opens in fall 2017. Currently under construction on the Brook Road Campus of the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, the new VTCC spans nearly 120,000 square feet. The current facility occupies 86,330 square feet. “It’s like day and night,” Silverman says of the difference between the new and old facilities. “The old building was constructed as only an inpatient facility, and we’re using it for inpatient, outpatient, teaching and research, so we’ve had to use spaces flexibly.”

Renderings Cannon Design


uth Hays Burke (M.T.’09/E) was about 9 when her struggles with anxiety led her to the Virginia Treatment Center for Children. She has never forgotten how it felt. “I was overwhelmed and scared,” Burke says. The building opened in 1962 as a stateoperated research, training and treatment facility for mentally ill and emotionally disturbed children and adolescents. “The lobby was very dark. The colors – it was all these dull, dirty yellows. There was no natural light and few windows. The lighting was really bad. And the smell – if you were to bottle it up, I could identify it in a second.” In the gloomy waiting room, Burke recalls looking around at the other children there and wondering, “‘Why are we all here? What are they trying to fix with you? Are we alike? What’s going on?’” The Virginia Commonwealth University VTCC provides services to children ages 3 to 17 for mental health issues ranging from depression and ADD/ADHD to anxiety, autism spectrum disorder and behavioral problems at home and school. As they waited, Burke’s mother explained to her that some children were inpatients. “That was terrifying,” she says. “I was really worried she was going to leave me there.”

Artist’s renderings of the interior of the new VTCC • 9

Artist’s rendering of the new building

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FUNDING NEEDED The new VTCC is the result of a $56 million state appropriation from the Virginia General Assembly in 2013. That covers construction and fittings, but not research, education and clinical-care programs, which need expansion. That’s where the Healthy Minds Campaign comes in. The campaign is an ongoing effort to raise awareness in the community of the work of the Department of Psychiatry, which encompasses adult psychiatry plus clinical, education and research programs, as well as child psychiatry. It has a fundraising goal of $15 million. Martha Estes Grover has co-chaired the campaign since its inception in 2011. In addition to her leadership role, she has given $1 million toward an endowment to support the VTCC. Half will create an endowed professorship in child and adolescent psychiatry; the other half will name a space in the VTCC in memory of her brother, a former patient. “Martha clearly understands the importance of research and education,” Silverman says, “that if you teach pediatricians or residents and students who will become pediatricians about children’s mental health problems, they’re going to be able to go out into the commonwealth and do a better job for kids and families.” As well as providing the funds that will recruit new professors, bring new programs to Virginia and provide outreach to area pediatricians, the Healthy Minds Campaign aims to raise

Rendering Cannon Design

The new building features two extensive outpatient wings with 20 treatment rooms and specialized areas for art, music and play therapy, tripling outpatient capacity. Two 16-bed secure inpatient units will add an extra eight inpatient rooms to the current capacity and include private baths and accommodations for parents to stay with their children for the duration of their treatment. In addition, the building includes a separate inpatient assessment and intake area; a therapy space for occupational, recreational, art, music and play therapy, along with telepsychiatry suites; a K-12 school program for all inpatient children; and a gym, dining areas and outside recreational areas and gardens. “It’s going to be one of the most beautiful, welcoming, functional facilities for kids and families in the world,” Silverman says. Burke has seen the plans for the new building and has talked to the architects. “They’ve taken into account how the design elements affect our experience and our feelings when we walk into a place,” she says. “They have taken huge steps to make it feel very open. They are inspired by nature, so there are lots of curves and huge amounts of natural light. The courtyards, the outdoor therapeutic space, fresh air – they understand how important all these elements are not only to those who will be treated there and the family members who will be coming but also to their own staff.”

awareness so parents are more comfortable about reaching out if their children are having issues. “The stigma of mental illness needs to go away,” Grover says. She remembers being at the VTCC with her schizophrenic brother, Michael, about 40 years ago. “We just didn’t talk about it,” she says of her family at the time. “I often think of my mother and how hard it must have been for her struggling with a sick child. Helping families have access to resources is such an important component to obtaining treatment.”

DEVELOPING A DIALOGUE As a child, Burke also remembers the stigma associated with seeking help and agrees that awareness is key. “My parents didn’t know who to talk to, and they certainly weren’t talking to the neighbors about it,” she says. “The more we talk to each other about it, the more light we can put on things.” Now 35 and a new mother, Burke is focused on helping young girls today do exactly that, by encouraging them to be open about their feelings and experiences as the director of Girls on the Run of Greater Richmond. A nonprofit youth development program for girls from 8 to 12, it combines emotional and physical training for a 5K run with lessons that inspire girls to become independent thinkers and good problem-solvers and to make healthy decisions.

“Girls now are dealing with an immense amount of stress,” she says. “It’s an opportunity to help them question some of the feelings, beliefs or issues that they may be experiencing or feeling.” As for her mental health, Burke says, “it’s something I constantly have to check in on and figure out on a weekly basis.” The VTCC helped start her on that journey, but she knows that the road will be smoother for children treated at the new facility. “I would hope that as soon as they arrived, they got a sense of enrichment, nurturing, welcoming and calm,” she says. “I just think the new building is going to provide a positive platform for the entire family.” Silverman, too, is clearly excited to see the building on the brink of reality. But he’s also looking further ahead, to how the funds raised by the Healthy Minds Campaign will help maximize the potential of this state-of-the-art facility. “We need to have better therapies, better diagnostic procedures and better medications with fewer side effects, and partnering with the community is a major vehicle for making it better,” he says. “We want to have more resources so people can get the help when they need it, so fewer kids will end up addicted, fewer kids attempt suicide and fewer kids end up in the juvenile justice system.” To learn more about the VCU VTCC and the Department of Psychiatry, contact Lynn Meyer, director of development, at (804) 827-6297 or • 11

Photo Julia Rendleman, University Marketing

Nursing students celebrate impact of scholarship

Nursing students thank Hobie Claiborne (left) and Herbert Claiborne III.

The Virginia Commonwealth University School of Nursing and the MCV Foundation held a luncheon last October in the School of Nursing garden to celebrate the Lettie Pate Whitehead Foundation and the thousands of scholarships it has awarded VCU nursing students over the past 30 years. The Whitehead Foundation provides scholarships to more than 150 VCU students each year. More than $6 million has been awarded since 1984. The Lettie Pate Whitehead Foundation was established in 1946 by Conkey Pate Whitehead. A memorial to his mother, Lettie, its purpose is to help women pursue an education. This year, 163 students with an average GPA of 3.7 were selected. Students had the opportunity to personally thank Hobie Claiborne, M.D., and Herbert Claiborne III, trustees of the Lettie Pate Whitehead Foundation, for their scholarships during the luncheon.

Pollak Society gets sneak peek at VCU ICA Members of VCUarts’ Pollak Society got a behind-the-scenes look at VCU’s new Institute for Contemporary Art at the Markel Center last September, with a hardhat tour of the construction site. The building, which is about halfway complete, is set to open to the public this year. The Pollak Society has played a significant role in advocating for the arts at Virginia Commonwealth University and in Richmond, Virginia, as a whole. The society, which supports programming and initiatives at the School of the Arts, is completing a $500,000 pledge to support the ICA’s capital campaign. The School of the Arts has a legacy of active participation in national and international conversations in the contemporary art world. The VCU Institute for Contemporary Art at the Markel Center will be a civic and cultural hub in the city, dedicated to exploring art in all forms from around the world.

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Pollak Society members prepare for

their tour.

Ellen Stuart-Haentjens, a Ph.D. student, sets up the batteries for the solar panel that powers the tower instruments. Photo VCU News

New Dominion funding helps next-generation environmental scientists In 2011, Virginia Commonwealth University teamed up with the Nature Conservancy to embark on a major environmental restoration project at the VCU Rice Rivers Center, returning the 70 acres below Lake Charles to their original state of freshwater tidal wetland. In 2016, the addition of a 20-foot tower, outfitted with 12 scientific instruments, made the location a living laboratory for studying greenhouse-gas exchange and energy dynamics. This past May, two assistant professors from the Department of Biology, along with Ellen Stuart-Haentjens, a Ph.D. student in the VCU Integrative Life Sciences program, proposed a two-course series that places those technologies into the hands of students, training them to answer critical questions about the environment. The course, Enviro-techniques, trains students to use and apply state-of-the art technical equipment in a team environment. Upon successful completion of the course, students can apply for the Environmental Sciences Scholars Program, a follow-up course that teaches student scholars to apply those techniques to answering an

independent environmental science question while also training them to communicate with nonscientists. Last September, the Dominion Foundation awarded VCU Life Sciences a $50,000 grant toward additional resources and equipment needs, enabling courses to begin in May 2017. “This grant provides us with an opportunity to incorporate research into teaching,” says Christopher M. Gough, Ph.D., assistant biology professor and a course founder. “It provides countless opportunities for students to learn using real researchgrade equipment and a world-class facility.” That experiential training, Gough says, will do more than answer pressing questions about the environment; it increases the likelihood of students pursuing and earning advanced degrees, becoming next-generation scientists. To learn more about the Rice Rivers Center, contact Catherine Dahl, director of development and special projects for VCU Life Sciences, at (804) 827-7372. • 13

VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D. (right), with donors Debbie and Todd House in Atlanta

President Rao hits the road with the Make It Real Campaign for VCU Virginia Commonwealth University President Michael Rao, Ph.D., brought the Make It Real Campaign for VCU message on the road in October and November, with visits to New York City and Atlanta, Georgia. The cities are priority areas for the university in the campaign because of the large numbers of alumni living there. Donors Glorianne and John Powell hosted a donor and alumni reception Oct. 18 in their SoHo, New York City, apartment. The Powells, whose gifts to the College of Humanities and Sciences have created the Powell-Edwards Distinguished Professorship in Religion and the Arts, the Powell-Edwards Religion and the Arts lectures and the Marcia Powell Festival of Religion and the Arts, shared with the group their passion for philanthropy. During the evening, VCU Alumni New York Chapter leaders Michelle Turner (B.A.’93/H&S) and Mark Hannon (B.F.A.’94/A) announced to fellow alumni their intention to 14 • Impact

raise enough money to endow a scholarship to support a greater New York City-area VCU student. In addition to showing the Make It Real Campaign video, Rao charged the group to think about how they could contribute to VCU during the campaign, which runs until June 30, 2020. Alumni in the Atlanta area gathered Nov. 15 in the home of Debbie House (M.T.’94/E) and her husband, Todd, to hear Rao discuss the campaign. The new dean of the School of Education, Andrew Daire, Ph.D., also attended. Debbie House talked about the couple’s decision to invest in VCU’s School of Education with the creation of the Debbie and Todd House Urban Education Scholarship in Math and Science. Their scholarship was inspired by a conversation with a student caller from VCU’s Gold Line call center. To learn more about the Make It Real Campaign for VCU and to watch the campaign video, visit

School of Education heralds new dean Virginia Commonwealth University leadership came together with School of Education faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends Oct. 6 to officially welcome new Dean Andrew P. Daire, Ph.D. More than 100 people attended the evening event at the newly renovated James Branch Cabell Library, including Board of Visitors Rector John Luke and BOV member Keith Parker (B.A.’90/H&S; M.U.R.P.’93/GPA), who had traveled from Atlanta for the occasion. VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D., one of three speakers at the event, paid tribute to the new dean. “We have come out a winner; I can’t thank [Andrew] enough for choosing us,” Rao said. “He brings extensive experience as an educator, as a counselor and as a strong leader, and he has made many things happen in the places he’s been. We know we can count on him to take us to the next level.” In his own address, Daire emphasized his commitment to urban education. “At the School of Education, we have a responsibility, as an urban public research institution, to address challenges in our community,” he said. “These challenges are not average, and so they cannot be met with average thinking and average efforts. We have to be boldly aspirational and extraordinary in our intentions, in our work, in our outcomes and in our impact. “The School of Education here at VCU is an extraordinary organization within an extraordinary university. As dean, I look forward to us launching into a new trajectory of excellence, innovation and impact.”

Education Dean Andrew P. Daire, Ph.D., addresses guests at his welcome event. Photo Tony Sylvestro

Photo Nick Davis Photograph


River event raises $50,000 for Massey

Attendees at Massey on the River

The Massey Alliance again surpassed its fundraising goals when it hosted the seventh annual Massey on the River event this past August, raising $50,000 to support VCU Massey Cancer Center’s research mission. The event, presented by Apex Systems, has raised more than $300,000 since its inception and brings together 900 young professionals annually for an evening of music, a silent auction of festive experiences and all you can eat and drink of Richmond’s best brews, wines and gourmet fare. The Massey Alliance is the cancer center’s junior professional board. Its next fundraising event, Richmond Brunch Weekend, will be held March 26-28. For more information about the Massey Alliance, visit • 15

CreateAthon participants work on their project.

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N E P O 24 HOURS Robertson School’s CreateAthon tasks students with an around-the-clock challenge to benefit local nonprofits BY B R ELY N P OW EL L

Photo CreateAthon

“When you have that many creative minds racing under one roof, you can practically feel it,” says Efrain Valle of the energy that drives CreateAthon. Last spring, he and nearly 100 other Virginia Commonwealth University students channeled their talents to benefit local nonprofit organizations in the daunting 24-hour creative marathon. CreateAthon is a national nonprofit that, through pro-bono creative marathons, helps other nonprofits gain access to the marketing and communications resources they need to advance their mission. VCU’s CreateAthon is one of many held around the country each year. At VCU, the annual event is the culmination of a semester’s worth of work for an academic course, Nonprofit Project Development, which is taught by Peyton Rowe (M.F.A.’96/A), associate professor in the Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture in the VCU College of Humanities and Sciences. • 17

Photo CreateAthon

Presenting ideas at CreateAthon

After experiencing her first CreateAthon in 2004 via its founders Teresa Coles and Cathy Monetti of advertising agency Riggs Partners, the trio worked together to craft a semesterlong course based on the experience. Students in the course are paired with select nonprofits to assess those organizations’ marketing needs. Throughout the semester, they prepare a strategy that will provide their clients with lasting communications solutions. They arrive on campus at 8 a.m. on the Thursday of spring break, ready to bring that plan to life during CreateAthon. With the help of a team of student volunteers, who also receive academic credit, and local professionals volunteering as mentors, the group spends the morning conceptualizing ideas and developing sample materials. “Everyone is so motivated to get the job done well, and it shows when you look around and see how hard everyone is working,” says Valle, a third-year student in the Robertson School studying creative advertising. Adrenaline fuels the process, but pop-up yoga classes, massages and dance parties are among the many unexpected opportunities for rejuvenation provided throughout the event. “If you hit a wall, you have to step away from the work for a minute or it only gets worse,” Valle says. “It’s the little breaks that keep you going.” No one, however, loses sight of the fact that first thing the next morning, the groups must formally present their work to the organizations that will put it to use. 18 • Impact

After a semester spent consulting with IT4Causes, a nonprofit that provides information technology solutions for other small and midsize nonprofits, Valle and team determined that its greatest need was consistency in its brand identity. “For us, it’s all about building a network of people who want to be involved with our mission, and having a strong brand is key to that,” says IT4Causes founder and Chief Executive Officer Tom Anderson (Cert.’15/GPA). “We have to be able to match the organizations who need our services with individuals who have the right skill sets to help them.” Valle and his team redesigned the IT4Causes logo and developed a brand guidelines toolkit. At the team’s final presentation during CreateAthon, Anderson immediately embraced their work. “We started using the new logo that very day,” Anderson says, “and the brand guidelines have been invaluable.” An added benefit of Anderson’s involvement in CreateAthon is that he is now more confident delegating important tasks to volunteers. “Knowing that I can depend on volunteers to make consistent and usable promotional materials helps us keep our spending down.” Testimonials like Anderson’s have garnered support for the program from donors including Anna Lou Schaberg (B.S.’66/H&S; M.Ed.’70/E) and her husband, Bob. By including the program among the many local organizations they support through the Bob and Anna Lou Schaberg Fund at the Virginia Nonprofit Housing Coalition, the Schabergs have contributed $160,000 to CreateAthon since 2008. Such gifts cover the cost of the materials produced for the client and meals for event volunteers. “There are so many small nonprofits in our community doing fantastic work on limited budgets,” says Schaberg, who also serves on the VCU School of Education Advancement Council. “It’s important that those agencies have the opportunity to grow and increase their capacity to serve those in need. The services they receive through CreateAthon really help them move along that path.”

Photo CreateAthon


CreateAthon participants work on their project.

Online extra To learn more about how CreateAthon has developed over the years, visit /createathon.


Rowe’s first CreateAthon experience left her hooked and full of ideas to share the opportunity with others. “It was amazing,” Rowe says. “I realized that if I’d had experiences like that as a student, it might have really impacted the course that my career took.” Rowe introduced the program at VCU as soon as she arrived at the Robertson School in 2005 and has shared the model with eight other universities, which have since held their own CreateAthon events. Robertson School Director Hong Cheng, Ph.D., sees the program as a chance for students like Valle to help the community while gaining experience that could help them in their future careers. “CreateAthon cultivates among its participants a strong love and dedication to social good and is a time-tested role model for community engagement, experiential learning and

team work,” Cheng says. “The tremendous success of this signature program at VCU wouldn’t be possible without strong philanthropic support.” Rowe, who has been the executive and creative director of CreateAthon since it became a national nonprofit in 2015, hopes that support for the program will allow it to thrive at VCU for years to come. “I don’t like to think about it, but someday I’ll retire, and this program needs to live on long after that,” she says. “Skillsbased volunteering allows students to prepare for their careers while using their skills to make the world a better place. I want CreateAthon to continue to give students a chance to experience that.” To learn more about CreateAthon or the Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture, contact Lauren Stewart (B.S.’10/MC; M.S.’11/MC), assistant director for development and alumni relations, at (804) 827-3761 or • 19

CROWD FUNDING About 30,000 people run the Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k every year, and many participants choose to run in support of the VCU Massey Cancer Center. But how does the money they raise actually affect cancer research? As we look forward to the 18th annual race April 1, we pick two people out of the crowd to show how a runner can impact the race toward a cure.


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Runners at the start of the 2012 Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k in Richmond, Virginia Photo Allen Jones, University Marketing • 21

The runner This April, Kelly Durham, a 48-year-old training and development program specialist at Markel Corp., will mark a decade of running in the annual Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k. Over the years, her efforts and those of her supportive family have raised more than $70,000 for Virginia Commonwealth University’s Massey Cancer Center. In 2016 alone, Durham raised $20,067 and became Massey’s top individual fundraiser for the second consecutive year. “I started running the 10k when my father-in-law was ill and diagnosed with skin cancer. It was a huge boost in his spirits as he was going through treatment, and it was a way for us to feel like we were doing something, to find some positivity during our difficult time. “Sadly, he passed away in 2010. After that, we continued to fundraise in his memory and tap into his network of friends and family to support us.

Kelly and Tucker Durham

22 • Impact

“A couple of years later, we decided to change things up and support some people we knew who were still here and going through cancer treatment. We dedicated each mile of the race to a different person. As I was running the race with my son, literally as we passed each mile marker we were going, ‘OK, this one’s for Sophia, keep on going, and this one’s for Drew.’ It was very emotional, in a really good way. “This past year, my family was stricken again, and my aunt Jeannie was diagnosed with a very rare form of leukemia. So this year, we are running for her. People are so supportive when they hear a personal story. So many people can relate to it because they have friends or family who have also been struggling with cancer or who have been lost. Everybody has a story. “We do the majority of fundraising by writing letters. I do send emails and use social media, but honestly I don’t have a lot of success that way. We include pictures with the letters, either of the people we’re honoring or of us running from the previous year. The pictures are worth a thousand words. “My husband, he’s my director of gratitude – we write personal thank-you cards or call people, acknowledging that we’ve received their donations and updating them on what we’re doing. My oldest son, Tucker, runs the race with me every year, and he’s really helped me with fundraising. My youngest son, Patrick, has run the kids’ race twice and should be ready to try the 10k for the first time this year. “I do keep track of my fundraising totals because it’s very motivating. We have capped out at over $70,000. You might think that one person can’t make a difference, but they can.”

Online extra Watch a fundraising video that Kelly and Tucker Durham made for the 2016 Monument Avenue 10k at

The numbers

$5 million

For 12 years, Massey has served as charitable partner of the 10k, raising more than $5 million thanks to the runners and walkers who choose to fundraise as part of their participation in the race.


There are 41,000 people with cancer in Virginia (ACS, 2015).

$403,420 Photos Nick Davis Photography

In 2016, Massey Cancer Center’s peer-to-peer fundraising campaign, with the Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k as its centerpiece, raised $403,420. Proceeds from 10k registration alone raised $24,000.


Each runner is encouraged to meet a fundraising goal of $100.


Each year, 30,000 people run the race. If they all ran for Massey and raised $100 each, they would raise $3 million.

Every dollar raised or donated goes directly (and immediately) into Massey’s unrestricted fund, giving Gordon D. Ginder, M.D., director of Massey Cancer Center, the ability to fund the most promising research and clinical trials available at Massey, which benefits patients here in Richmond, Virginia, and beyond. • 23

The doctor “Unrestricted funds from the Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k partnership and other fundraisers are essential to our ability to pursue the most promising new treatments that will ultimately reduce death and suffering caused by cancer. The flexibility to pursue an innovative scientific concept, invest in the recruitment of a leading researcher or test technology that could move a patient’s care forward is crucial. I am immensely grateful for the generous support of a community that chooses to not only invest their own time and money but also passionately share our mission in a way that creates a powerful ripple effect.” Gordon D. Ginder, M.D., Lipman Chair in Oncology and director, Massey Cancer Center

The areas of need Clinical trial funding: Gives more patients access to the hope of a clinical trial.

Shared resources: Ensures researchers have access to the right resources at the right time.

Recruitment and retention: Builds the right recruitment and retention packages for talented researchers.

Bridge funding: Supplements grant funding to keep research moving when funding lapses.

Pilot projects: Provides researchers with the opportunity to develop concepts to the point where they are eligible to receive external funding.

Investing in these areas of need ensures that the latest treatment advances, backed by the latest research breakthroughs, are delivered to patients as quickly as possible.

24 • Impact

The patient In 2006, Bromby Earle, a 69-year-old real estate agent, underwent surgery, radiation and chemotherapy at Massey Cancer Center to remove a tumor on her neck. When her type of cancer, the rare and low-grade acinic cell carcinoma, was detected again in 2013, she had surgery to remove the affected tissue. She got the all-clear, but in summer 2016, doctors determined that she would have to undergo radiation and chemotherapy again. She began her treatment Nov. 7, 2016, about two weeks after this interview.

Photo Allen Jones, University Marketing

“The area where this cancer is located is in an inoperable place. Nine years ago, I was told that the radiation I received was it – no more. But now, it is possible. With precision medicine, they can target and deliver the radiation around and not through damaged tissue. What a relief. “I know I can do this. Renewed hope for a full life is a reality, and I know every day brings new discoveries in this battle against cancer. If I can have five more years, there will be something else out there for me. This new immunotherapy is quite exciting. Perhaps, in the future, it will be available for my type of cancer. “I’m anxious, and I’m ready to get started. I feel so very confident in all of the doctors who care for me at Massey. Me and Dr. [Laurence] DiNardo [M.D., FACS; otolaryngology] and Dr. [Shiyu] Song [M.D., Ph.D.; radiation oncology] go back almost 10 years. These doctors are so dedicated to fighting cancer, finding the cure and taking care of their patients. I have utmost faith that Dr. Song will drive that radiation to the exact spot that will, once and for all, kill these cancer cells. “I’m so grateful to be a part of the Massey family. I also volunteer and serve on the advisory board. One of the committees that I serve on is the annual fund, which is raising money for unrestricted funds for Massey. To me, the ability to have a second round of radiation is directly a result of unrestricted funds that Dr. Ginder can put wherever he thinks they are best needed.”

Bromby Earle undergoing radiation therapy in November 2016. Inset: Earle

To learn more about VCU Massey Cancer Center, contact Cindy Zilch, chief development officer, at (804) 828-1452 or To learn more about Massey and the Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k, visit or contact Ocelia Hudson, donor engagement coordinator, at (804) 628-1663 or • 25

Photo Skip Rowland

School of Nursing honors donors at Cabaniss dinner

Scholarship recipient Jessica Li (center) with former School of Medicine Dean Jerry Strauss III, M.D., Ph.D., and RAM President Harry D. Bear (M.D.’75/M; Ph.D.’78/M), professor of surgery and chair of the school’s division of surgical oncology

Physicians’ organization supports new scholarship for top student

To learn more about the School of Medicine, contact Tom Holland, associate dean for development, at (804) 828-4800 or

26 • Impact

Donors, students mingle at dinner The Ernst & Young Donor Student-Athlete Dinner was held Sept. 19 at the Hilton Short Pump in Richmond, Virginia. Donors and student-athletes had a chance to meet and to hear about the impact of donor support on the student-athlete experience. The annual dinner is an extension of the VCU Athletics Donor Student-Athlete Program, which was established several years ago to help donors get to know VCU’s 280-plus student-athletes. Donors who contribute $5,000 or more annually are invited.

Photo VCU Athletics

Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine scholarships are often created by alumni, faculty or even community members. But last fall, for the first time, a new medical student scholarship was established by community-based physicians’ organization the Richmond Academy of Medicine. With a gift of $100,000, the academy endowed a scholarship that aims to benefit a top student with financial need who exemplifies the desire, attributes and skills necessary to become a physician leader. The inaugural recipient is Jessica Li, a secondyear student who already demonstrates those qualities. She volunteers with geriatrics and palliative care student groups and traveled to the Dominican Republic last spring on a relief trip that provided medical and surgical eye care in the underserved community of Santiago. Li put her Spanish skills to use taking vital signs and helping translate for patients before and after their surgeries in days that often lasted more than 12 hours. The scholarship is renewable; academy leaders are looking forward to getting to know Li as she completes her four-year medical degree. Li will also receive free membership to the academy, which enables her to attend its regular meetings.

The VCU School of Nursing held its 22nd annual Sadie Heath Cabaniss Society Dinner on Oct. 27 at The Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, Virginia, to recognize donors and share the impact of their contributions. As part of the annual dinner, Nursing Dean Jean Giddens, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, and senior director of development Kate Haydon presented a commemorative plate to first-time donors who had contributed $1,000 or more in fiscal year 2016. The Cabaniss Society was established to recognize significant annual giving to the school and to honor Sadie Heath Cabaniss, who is widely recognized as the school’s founder. Society members are individuals who have donated at least $500 in a fiscal year.

Donor Lynne Jones (center) with student-athletes Connor Gillispie and Keira Robinson

Attendees at the Family Fun Day last September Photo Cynthia Newmark

School of Social Work celebrates 100 years with weekend of events The Virginia Commonwealth University School of Social Work celebrated scholarship, research, students, faculty, staff and alumni with a series of events Sept. 23-24 kicking off the school’s 100th anniversary year. Celebrations began Sept. 23 with the Wurtzel Lecture, delivered by the recently appointed Samuel S. Wurtzel Endowed Chair in Social Work, Denise Burnette, Ph.D. Burnette spoke about her international work to increase scholarship around aging and aging epidemics. Afterward, attendees joined faculty and staff at the Academic Learning Commons, home of the school, for the Legacy Brunch. Elizabeth “Betsy” Farmer, associate dean for research, spoke about the school’s growing research presence and invited two students to share their research experiences. Cory Cummings, Ph.D. candidate and recipient of the Hans S. Falck Doctoral Scholarship and the Robin M. McKinney Dissertation Honor Fund, and Deja Spratley, current B.S.W. student and recipient of the Grace E. Harris Merit Scholarship, shared the impact of donor-supported scholarships on their work. Later that day, B.S.W., M.S.W. and Ph.D. students presented at the Student Research Expo. Attendees engaged with students

and learned about recent and ongoing social work research. On Sept. 24, the school held a Family Fun Day at the Academic Learning Commons. Attendees enjoyed a variety of activities including kids’ T-shirt coloring, outdoor games and a photo booth. Guests learned more about the school’s longstanding community connections on a bus tour led by faculty members Alex Wagaman, Ph.D., and Sarah Kye Price, Ph.D. Tour participants saw firsthand numerous partnerships the school has developed to provide students with hands-on, relevant field education, including a stop at the YWCA of Richmond. Shawntee Wynn (M.S.W.’07/SW), director of sexual and domestic violence services at the YWCA, discussed his organization’s partnership with the school and provided insight into 21st-century internship experience. After the tour, Social Phobia, a local Richmond band featuring social work professor Joe Walsh, Ph.D., took the stage and closed out the event. To learn more about the School of Social Work and how to get involved in the 100th anniversary, contact Portia Chan, donor relations associate, at (804) 828-0154 or • 27

Development team welcomes new members Jane Garnet Brown Director of gift planning MCV Foundation (804) 828-4599

Portia G. Chan

VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D., with donor C. Kenneth Wright at the National Philanthropy Day Awards luncheon

National Philanthropy Day Awards honor loyal friends of VCU Two donors nominated by Virginia Commonwealth University were honored Nov. 17 at the National Philanthropy Day Awards luncheon presented by the Association of Fundraising Professionals Central Virginia Chapter. C. Kenneth Wright (H.L.D.’11), who won the Lifetime Achievement in Philanthropy Award, has had a philanthropic relationship with Virginia Commonwealth University since 1999. He and his late wife, Dianne, have created scholarships and professorships, donated property that became the home of the VCU Brandcenter, helped fund a large expansion of the School of Engineering and bolstered cancer research and pulmonary care. In December 2015, Wright made a $16 million commitment to the VCU Center for Clinical and Translational Research. His lifelong giving to the university totals $41 million. Wright is also a longtime supporter of several other local organizations, including the Virginia War Memorial and the YMCA, and he is a dedicated member of the Rotary Club. East West Communities Foundation won the Spirit of Giving Award for their Massey Street of Hope fundraiser, a 16-day event that featured an exclusive luxury-home show in the Hallsley neighborhood, a black-tie preview gala and auction, book signings by the Young House Love designers, concerts and a car raffle. The event raised $675,000 to support the VCU Massey Cancer Center. More than 800 people attended the luncheon at the Greater Richmond Convention Center in Richmond, Virginia. 28 • Impact

Development relations associate School of Social Work (804) 828-0154

Lane Guilliams Donor and board relations specialist School of Engineering (804) 828-2909

Lynne C. McCarthy Communications and alumni relations officer Life Sciences (804) 827-1164

Stephanie Monn Gift stewardship and special events coordinator School of Pharmacy (804) 827-2524

T. Greg Prince Senior director of development School of Allied Health Professions (804) 828-7247

Anita D. Yearwood Special events manager VCU Institute for Contemporary Art (804) 828-8497

By the numbers Individual unit goals and totals in the Make it Real Campaign for VCU


Total goal

Total dollars raised

% of goal raised

Allied Health

$10,000,000 $5,090,908



$25,000,000 $16,369,056



$51,800,000 $29,924,028



$30,000,000 $10,965,661



$25,500,000 $15,823,080



$7,500,000 $4,980,477



$35,000,000 $23,044,640


Honors College

$5,000,000 $1,679,933


Humanities and Sciences




$38,700,000 $25,079,773

Libraries Life Sciences


$6,170,000 $2,278,070 $10,500,000 $8,642,376

Massey Cancer Center $120,000,000 $82,449,850 Medicine

64.8% 36.9% 82.3% 68.7%

$300,000,000 $177,106,429



$16,100,000 $9,857,930



$12,000,000 $3,774,259


Social Work

$2,250,000 $1,501,096


VCU Health Wilder

$150,000,000 $24,573,115


$3,000,000 $1,636,403


Figures as of Dec. 31, 2016

Non Profit Org. U.S. Postage Paid Richmond, Virginia Permit No. 869

Virginia Commonwealth University Development and Alumni Relations P.O. Box 843042 Richmond, Virginia 23284-3042

“I plan to work in the African-American community and eventually build programs to help young adults transition into the next phase of their lives and reintegrate those previously incarcerated into their community. I came from a low-income background, where stability was always hard to find, so the U. and M. Smedley Family Merit Scholarship is a very serious blessing, and I am incredibly appreciative. It will help me help others and hopefully improve lives.” − Akea Robinson Psychology and African American Studies major, Class of 2018

Impact Volume 9  
Impact Volume 9