Van Wezel Foundation names new CEO

Cheryl Mendelson cited for philanthropic program expertise and work with Harris Theater in Chicago’s Millenium Park

Cheryl Mendelson. Image from the Erikson Institute website

Chicago-based arts and education executive Cheryl Mendelson has been appointed the new CEO of the Van Wezel Foundation, board Chair Mike Martella has announced.

“Mendelson will take the helm in February, bringing more than 25 years of fundraising, business development, and strategic planning to the Foundation,” a news release points out.

“The appointment of Cheryl Mendelson is our next step toward realizing our vision of a new performing arts center for our great community,” said Martella in the release. As the Foundation conducted “an extensive national search,” he continued in the release, “Cheryl’s breadth of expertise in developing successful philanthropic programs, coupled with her experience in growing the Harris Theater in Millennium Park [in Chicago] into a nationally recognized venue of artistic importance, made her the perfect choice to lead the next chapter of the Van Wezel Foundation. Cheryl’s appointment will enable us to achieve our mission to create a world-class performing arts center that enriches the community, supports arts education, and inspires young minds,” he pointed out in the release.

As part of the master plan for The Bay on 53 downtown acres in the city of Sarasota, a new performing arts facility has been planned to replace the Van Wezel.

Mendelson’s career as a nonprofit executive has spanned the fields of education, healthcare and the arts, the release notes. Most recently, she has been vice president of institutional advancement and chief marketing officer for Erikson Institute, “the premier graduate school in child development, where she led the strategy and execution for all fundraising, marketing, and communications,” the release says. Prior to that, she spent eight years as executive vice president and chief operating officer at the Harris Theater, the release adds. Mendelson led the $38-million Imaginecapital campaign for the theater, the release notes. She also founded Access Tickets, a Harris Theater arts education program that partners with health and human service organizations and schools.

“I am honored to lead the Van Wezel Foundation at such a pivotal time and to expand on the success of the current programs while helping bring to life the vision of a new performing arts center for Sarasota,” said Mendelson in the release.

Mendelson received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Massachusetts and completed the Management Institute program at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, the release says.