VCA looks to rebound from pandemic, announces new board leadership

virginia commission for the artsThe Virginia Commission for the Arts has announced its officers for the 2022-2023 year:

  • Dena Jennings from Orange will serve as chair
  • Robert Goudie from Reston serving as vice chair
  • Amanda Pillion from Abingdon serving as secretary

“As the VCA continues to build both capacity and community in the arts across the Commonwealth, we are inspired by the incredible service and leadership of Dena, Robert, and Amanda,” said Margaret Hancock, executive director of the VCA. “These individuals embody a high level of engagement in the arts in a time of utmost importance as the arts rebound from the effects of the pandemic and return full fledge to their important role in our vibrant Virginia.”

Jennings takes on the chair role following years of leadership service with the VCA including as commissioner since 2020, immediate vice chair, secretary, and chair of the budget and policy committee. A retired internal medicine physician, Jennings now focuses on her impactful advocacy efforts, community relations, and sculpting of and playing traditional gourd instruments found around the world – including the banjos and fiddles of Appalachia.

“I am looking forward to leading the commission as the Commonwealth emerges from the pandemic,” said Jennings in a news release. “The artists of Virginia are awaking to a complete renaissance from creative expression to best business practices. The commission has done great things, with great people, and great ideas. It is exciting to continue the work and incorporate ways to address emerging opportunities in the arts for Virginians.”

Goudie takes on the vice chair role with a deep knowledge of arts in Virginia, especially in Northern Virginia. A former lawyer, he has served as the executive director of the Reston Town Center Association for the past six years, and the board chair of the Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art – a VCA grantee and recipient of the agency’s 50 for 50 awards – for the past eight years.

The secretary role adds to Pillion’s record of state service beyond her career as an audiologist. In 2020, she was elected to serve on the Abingdon Town Council where she currently holds appointments to the Abingdon arts commission, the veterans advisory committee, and the tourism advisory committee. Pillion is an advocate of education, including arts education, across the state and serves on the University of Virginia board of visitors.

The Virginia Commission for the Arts is guided by 13 commissioners appointed to five-year terms by the governor and confirmed by the General Assembly. To ensure statewide representation, at least one commissioner – and no more than two – is appointed from each congressional district.

For more information on the VCA board, click here.


Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.