Ward will assume the role of president effective July 1, 2020, when her interim tenure concludes. Ward was appointed interim leader in July of this year when founding president Thomas Greene announced plans to take a year sabbatical and step down as president upon his return and join the faculty of the college’s MFA in Writing & Publishing program. Ward is only the second president of the Montpelier-based art college founded in 2007.
“Leslie’s skills and organizational experience make her a great fit for the college, and we are very excited for the future of VCFA,” said Bill Schubart, Chair, Board of Trustees. “VCFA, like so many institutions of higher education at this time, requires a leader who can enhance the programs we offer to grow our student roles. At the same time, we require a leader who can support our existing students, faculty, and staff and increase donor support and community and alumni engagement. Over the past several months, as interim leader, Leslie has helped to chart a path forward that does just that. Our shared vision recognizes our challenges, leverages our strengths, and positions us for sustained success.”
Ward knows VCFA well, as a graduate of the MFA in Writing program and a former trustee. She began her career working with Fortune 500 companies at the Boston Consulting Group. After obtaining an MBA from Harvard, Ward worked in business development and strategic planning for a group of investment properties owned by the New York venture firm General Atlantic Partners. In order to focus her career toward more mission-driven clients, she then shifted to the nonprofit world, working with the national office of Outward Bound, the Clark Foundation, the United States Government, and The Echoing Green Foundation, among others. She has given her time generously, serving not only on VCFA’s board, but also on the boards of several Vermont organizations, including Woodbury College and Everybody Wins!, and serving as an advisor to several private for-profit companies.
“I am deeply grateful to the Board of Trustees for this honor,” said Ward. “I have always known VCFA is a special place worth investing time and energy, and I’m looking forward to leading it into its second decade. Our expertise with the low-residency education model, combined with our outstanding faculty and staff, position us well to respond to the evolving demands of graduate arts education in today’s world. It is an exciting time to use our platform to strengthen and support the impact of writers and artists in their communities. I’m confident with the support of our community here in Vermont and around the world, we will be successful.”
Ward has identified key priorities she will continue to address as president, including advancing the college’s educational model; enhancing diversity, equity, and inclusion at every level of the college; strengthening financial resources to improve sustainability; and extending VCFA’s reach and impact throughout the arts community and within the greater New England community.