The Virginia African American Cultural Center Board of Directors recently appointed Joan Rhodes Copeland as its Executive Director. Rhodes Copeland comes to the VAACC, to be located in Virginia Beach, with leadership, financial and administrative skills that will help to pivot the Center towards its vision. Rhodes-Copeland quotes Author Stephen Covey from his book, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People: "Begin with the end in mind.”
Rhodes-Copeland was born in Portsmouth, Va., and graduated from Norfolk State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration. She received her Master’s in business education from Columbia University, New York, N.Y. Rhodes-Copeland's professional background is in education and school administration. She worked at various schools in New York City and retired from ECPI College, where, for over 15 years, she worked in a variety of administrative positions. Her love for the arts was developed during her growing years with her family and at Norfolk State University. It was nourished in New York City through the many theater, opera, and artistic events she attended.
She has made her mark in Virginia with the ownership of the Art Atrium II art gallery in Portsmouth; curatorship of many art exhibitions (outdoors and in local arts venues), her work with museums (chair of the Friends of African Art at the Chrysler Museum), and as the Executive Director of the Cultural Alliance of Greater Hampton Roads. The Alliance provided support and training for various Hampton Roads arts and cultural organizations. Under her leadership, the Alliance won a state award from the Virginia Arts Commission (50 for 50 state recognition award in November 2016) for its work in the statewide arts community.
Rhodes-Copeland was presented the Martin Luther King Dreamer Award by the Virginia Symphony Orchestra in January 2017 as a tribute to her work in the arts community and her efforts to bring all groups into the arts. Recently, she ended her tenure as the co-chairman of the Regional South Atlantic Arts and Letters Committee of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
Her vision, hopes, and dreams for the VAACC include a groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate the beginning of the Center's construction. "We can then walk through the doors and showcase the VAACC, a facility that will house artifacts and serve as a contemporary venue to feature programs and exhibitions that enlighten and feature the contributions of African Americans in our State," Rhodes-Copeland said. she sees her job as working with the Board to develop and execute procedures and programs that will increase the visibility and financial stability of the Center so that its distinction and prominence will be heightened throughout the state of Virginia, assuring the success of the Capital Campaign and the achievement of our ultimate goals and vision.