ABOUT VAN WEZEL FOUNDATION

Our Story

Fifty years ago, a city with a rich history of art, culture and philanthropy opened the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, the center of civic and cultural vitality.

Since 1987, the Van Wezel Foundation has partnered with the City of Sarasota to foster a connection between the city, the people, the bay and the spirit of human creativity. Through this collaboration and the generosity of donors, the Foundation has provided grants of more than $14 million to ensure arts education training for more than 400 teachers and arts education programming to more than 30,000 students and at-risk youth across four counties each year.

Our Mission

The mission of the Van Wezel Foundation is to create a world-class performing arts center that enriches the community, supports arts education and inspires young minds. 

Leading Roles

VAN WEZEL FOUNDATION
BOARD OF DIRECTORS 2020 – 2021

Van Wezel Foundation Board Leadership:
Jim Travers, Chair
Jenne Britell, Vice-Chair
Vern Chalfant, Treasurer
Juile Harris, Secretary
Michael J. Wilson, Legal Counsel

Van Wezel Foundation Board Members:
Ali Bahaj
Gerald L. Biller
Chad Campbell
Mark P. Famiglio
David Koffman
Michael Martella
Elaine McClure
Karl Newkirk
Nanci Ross-Weaver

Van Wezel Foundation Ex Officio Board Members:
Mary Bensel, Executive Director, Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall
Cheryl Mendelson, CEO, Van Wezel Foundation

FOUNDERS CIRCLE

John M. Dart
Beatrice Friedman†
John Jakes
Carolyn Michel
Michael R. Pender, Jr.

† deceased

STAFF

Cheryl Mendelson
Chief Executive Officer
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Susan McCreary
Chief Financial & Administrative Officer 
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Tracey Long Beeker
Director Communications & Community Engagement
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Sasha Hausman
Director of Development
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Suzanne Hudson-Smith
Associate Director of Leadership Gifts
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Josh Wilson
Digital & Social Media Strategist
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Nancy Denton
Annual Giving Manager
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Cathleen Mai
Administration Manager
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Alyssa Holcomb
Foundation Coordinator
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Elsie Merrill
Development Coordinator
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