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VMNH board to tap leader

Friday, August 22, 2014

By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer

A Martinsville-area native is in line to become the next chairwoman of the Virginia Museum of Natural History’s board when it meets Saturday.

Christina Draper, a University of Richmond administrator who is vice chair of the museum’s board of trustees, has agreed to accept the board’s top seat, said museum Deputy Director Ryan Barber. The board must elect Draper to the post, he said, but he does not foresee any obstacles.

The board will meet at 10 a.m. Saturday at the museum on Starling Avenue, Martinsville.

Draper would succeed Missy Neff Gould of Danville, who left the board after Gov. Terry McAuliffe appointed her to the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission.

Draper is a senior program manager for U of R’s School of Professional and Continuing Studies. She previously was a program director for the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, according to her biography on the LinkedIn website.

Having served on the museum board since 2006, Draper has been vice chair for a year. In an email, she wrote that she enjoys her involvement with the museum because she has been visiting it since she was a child.

“I also started my career (by) working in museums, so I have an affinity for these institutions,” she wrote.

Draper added that as chairman, she intends to help the museum continue to grow and be “a museum without walls.”

Her comment referred to the theme of a recently completed two-year vision plan focused on the museum’s efforts to reach people across the state, not just those who visit its building on Starling Avenue in Martinsville.

Gould is director of community and government relations for LifePoint Hospitals’ south central Virginia market, which includes Memorial Hospital in Martinsville and Danville Regional Medical Center. She is a former state assistant secretary of natural resources.

A South Boston native, Gould was on the museum board for six years and had been its chairwoman for a year.

In a phone interview, she said the board elected her to a second term as its chairwoman in May, but her board term expired July 1 and she did not seek reappointment because she was joining the tobacco commission.

Established by the General Assembly in 1999, the tobacco commission is a 31-member body that uses proceeds from a national tobacco settlement to promote economic growth and development in parts of Virginia — including Southside — where the economies were based heavily on tobacco growing.

Del. Danny Marshall, R-Danville, is among other Southside residents serving on the commission. It has no members from Henry County.

According to its website, the commission to date has provided 1,764 grants totaling more than $1 billion to projects across the state’s tobacco region.

Grants provided for Henry County and Martinsville this year have included $7 million for projects involving the Commonwealth Crossing Business Center and Patriot Centre industrial park and $2 million for the New College Institute for operating support and advanced manufacturing training equipment.

Gould recalled that the museum has received tobacco commission funds for its distance learning programs.

The state generally discourages appointees to one state panel from serving on another to avoid potential conflicts of interest, Gould said.

“I feel like I can continue to serve the museum in other ways” than being a board member, Gould said. For instance, she said she plans to continue helping with fundraising efforts.

“I know that we can count on her to continue to be an ambassador and a resource for” the museum, Executive Director Joe Keiper said in a memo to museum employees about Neff’s departure.

McAuliffe appointed Christine Baggerly, vice president of sales and support services for First Piedmont Corp. in Chatham, to replace Gould on the board, Barber said.


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