Van Wezel Foundation CEO, Cheryl Mendelson, Appointed to the Gulf Coast CEO Forum

Cheryl Mendelson Headshot Outdoors (2)

SARASOTA, May 6, 2020 – Cheryl Mendelson, CEO of the Van Wezel Foundation, has been appointed to the Gulf Coast CEO Forum, an organization comprised of a select group of leaders, presidents and CEOs from the business and nonprofit sectors.

“I’m honored to join this prestigious group at such a pivotal time. The COVID-19 pandemic has required businesses to think differently and reinvent the way we lead,” commented Cheryl Mendelson, Van Wezel Foundation CEO. “I am pleased to contribute to the collective expertise of the CEO forum and utilize the unique assets of the organization to support the resiliency and economic recovery of our communities.”

The Gulf Coast CEO Forum provides members with opportunities to take part with other Gulf Coast executives to build relationships, generate ideas and formulate solutions to issues facing the community. With a focus on business leadership, the CEO Forum hosts insightful and leading-edge educational programs designed to reflect the culture and needs of today’s business executives.

“Cheryl Mendelson was selected by our Membership Committee based on her breadth of experience as a nonprofit executive at renowned organizations,” noted Kimberly Manooshian, executive director of the Gulf Coast CEO Forum. “Her thought leadership, in concert with the Foundation’s role in building a new world class performing arts center to serve the Gulf Coast region, adds an important perspective to the Forum’s commitment to business development.”

After a national search, Mendelson was appointed CEO of the Van Wezel Foundation in January 2019 bringing over 25 years of experience as a nonprofit executive at nationally renowned organizations in education, healthcare, arts and culture. Prior to the Foundation, Mendelson served as executive vice president and chief operating officer at the Harris Theater in Chicago’s Millennium Park. She played a vital leadership role in the strategic vision for the Theater, building a national reputation as a venue of artistic importance. Mendelson was responsible for leading the senior management team in all areas of operations as well as earned and contributed income, including marketing, sales and philanthropy.

Previously, Mendelson spent 13 years at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (now the Shirley Ryan Ability Lab), the No. 1 rehabilitation hospital and research center in America. As senior vice president of Philanthropy, Marketing and Strategic Communications, Mendelson led campaigns raising more than $150 million to establish clinical and research programs. Additionally, she spearheaded pivotal public relations initiatives that brought international media attention to the groundbreaking research of the Center for Bionic Medicine and the hospital’s designation as the only private rehabilitation center to treat wounded soldiers.

Mendelson received her BA from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and completed the Management Institute Program at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.


The Gulf Coast CEO Forum is comprised of CEOs from entities with a minimum of 10 employees and annual revenues exceeding $1.5 million. With a focus on business leadership, the CEO Forum hosts insightful and leading-edge educational seminars designed to reflect the culture of today’s CEO. Highly beneficial roundtables present members with the opportunity to interact with like-minded equals and leverage their experienced intuition in a confidential environment. Visit to learn more.


Since 1987, The Van Wezel Foundation has partnered with the City of Sarasota to foster a connection between the people, the bay and the spirit of human creativity. The Foundation’s mission is to create a world-class performing arts center that enriches the community, supports arts education and inspires young minds. For more information, visit or join us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for inspiration and resources for families, educators and caregivers.


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