Advancement Division prepares for future success in fundraising, engagement, and communications
Editor's note: This story has been updated to indicate the correct beginning of Sesquicentennial activities in July 2021.
Virginia Tech’s Advancement Division, which is responsible for the university’s fundraising, communications, marketing, and alumni engagement, is making changes to its leadership structure with an eye toward continuing a strong record of success.
The changes, which take effect Feb. 16, will better align leadership responsibilities with the priorities of the university and the division.
“The past year’s unprecedented events should have all organizations looking carefully at their strategic goals and assessing if they have the right structures and teams in place to reach them,” said Vice President for Advancement Charlie Phlegar, whose division raised a record amount of new gifts and commitments in fiscal 2019-20. “Last year saw extraordinary accomplishments despite unprecedented challenges. But we are always striving to become the strongest organization we can be. These changes were all made with that in mind.”
Angela Hayes is being promoted to associate vice president for advancement and campaign and sesquicentennial director. Hayes, who has been with Virginia Tech since 2001, had served as assistant vice president for advancement and was a co-director of Boundless Impact: The Campaign for Virginia Tech.
Boundless Impact has a goal to raise $1.5 billion and engage 100,000 Hokies by Dec. 31, 2027. As sesquicentennial director, Hayes will also lead efforts to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Virginia Tech’s 1872 founding.
Sesquicentennial celebrations will begin in July 2021 and run through December 2022. Hayes will also continue to lead work with the university’s Commemorative Tributes Committee and several other key groups.
“The Boundless Impact campaign and our upcoming sesquicentennial celebration are major initiatives, and Angela has the experience and talent to help lead them both through to fantastic conclusions,” Phlegar said. “We appreciate her stepping forward to expand her role on these projects.”
Alumni Distinguished Professor and Senior Fellow at the Center for Gerontology Rosemary Blieszner chairs the Sesquicentennial Steering Committee that has brought together members from the Virginia Tech and wider community to start planning events.
“We’re excited to be working with Angela as a member of the core planning team for the sesquicentennial,” Blieszner said. “This milestone anniversary is a powerful opportunity to engage the entire Hokie Nation in recognition of the proud history and positive impact of Virginia Tech.”
Rhonda Arsenault is promoted to a senior associate vice president for advancement while continuing to serve as chief operating officer for the division. Arsenault, who has been with the university since 2001, previously was associate vice president for advancement and COO.
Arsenault joins Senior Associate Vice President for Advancement Monecia Taylor and Senior Associate Vice President for University Relations Tracy Vosburgh at the senior level. Collectively, this group oversees the majority of Advancement Division activities.
“This new title better reflects Rhonda’s broad level of responsibility in our organization,” Phlegar said. “Her leadership and expertise in implementing best practices throughout the division has been a major factor in accomplishments across all areas of Advancement.”
Natalie Hart is promoted to associate vice president for advancement, greater Washington, D.C., metro area. Hart, who has been with Virginia Tech since 2002, previously served as assistant vice president for advancement for that region. As Virginia Tech President Tim Sands reported in his recent State of the University Address, philanthropic gifts to support the university’s emerging Innovation Campus in the region have reached $50 million.
“The Innovation Campus is of critical importance to the tech community in the greater, Washington, D.C., metro area and has tremendous potential to increase Virginia Tech’s national and global impact,” said Lance Collins, vice president and executive director of the Innovation Campus. “This project’s success depends on philanthropy, and Natalie is uniquely qualified to deliver so that we can reach our full potential.”
Kristie Caddick will become chief of staff for the vice president. In this role she will work closely on projects with the Advancement Senior Leadership Team in support of the division’s priorities. Caddick, who has been with Virginia Tech since 2016 and received her Ph.D. in geoscience from Virginia Tech in 2014, had served as a project manager for the Innovation Campus.
“Kristie’s efforts behind the scenes have helped a great deal to keep a bold, complicated, and high-stakes initiative on track,” Phlegar said, referring to the Innovation Campus, where the first building is expected to open in fall 2024. “This chief of staff position is a very important one for our division. I’m happy to have it filled by someone as skilled and as dedicated as Kristie.”
Mark Owczarski is promoted to associate vice president for university relations and chief spokesperson. In this role Owczarski will serve as the senior associate vice president’s deputy and continue to work with leadership across Advancement to align communications as well as work with the Board of Visitors and university leadership on institutional messages. Owczarski, who has been with the university since 2003, previously served as assistant vice president for university relations.
“Mark is a skilled communicator with a priceless wealth of institutional knowledge and connections across Virginia Tech and higher education,” said Vosburgh, the senior associate vice president for university relations. “This role change allows for better alignment and coordination with the communications directors within our colleges and programs.”
Virginia Tech combined its fundraising, university relations, and alumni engagement functions to form the Advancement Division in 2015, hiring Phlegar as its first vice president later that year. Since then, the university has set fundraising records four times, including in fiscal year 2019-20, when more than $185.4 million in new gifts and commitments were made.
“I’m proud of our division’s accomplishments over the past few years, and especially since the pandemic emerged,” Phlegar said. “As we look toward the sesquicentennial, the successful completion of the Boundless Impact campaign, the launch of the Innovation Campus, and the eventual return to a new normal now that there are COVID-19 vaccines, this is an exciting and extremely busy time. Now, more than ever, it’s important to have strong leaders in place for our division to help Virginia Tech deliver on its major strategic aims. Angela, Rhonda, Natalie, Kristie, and Mark have all demonstrated their abilities. With these changes to their roles and an excellent team behind them, we have every confidence that Advancement is prepared to deliver on our goals in support of Virginia Tech.”