Venture Richmond’s Executive Director Jack Berry steps down

Jack Berry spent 18 years leading the organization and its predecessor, Richmond Renaissance, Inc.

Venture Richmond Press Release:

Venture Richmond Board Chair Mary Doswell announced today that Executive Director Jack Berry will resign after 18 years leading the organization and its predecessor, Richmond Renaissance, Inc.

Berry joined Richmond Renaissance in 1998 after serving as the Hanover County Administrator for six years, and serving in several capacities in Richmond City Government for 13 years prior to that. In 2006, he led the effort to merge four non-profits (Richmond Renaissance, CityCelebrations, Richmond Riverfront Development Corporation and River District Alliance) to form Venture Richmond.

Venture Richmond markets and promotes the economic development of downtown, manages riverfront property, including the canal walk and Brown’s Island, and produces major festivals and events, including the 2nd Street Festival, Dominion RiverRock (with Sportsbackers), the Richmond Folk Festival, Friday Cheers and others.

Berry organized and secured the resources for the inaugural Folk Festival and has led the team that has made the Richmond Folk Festival one of Richmond’s most treasured assets.

His tenure has been characterized by collaborative efforts with a wide variety of community organizations and groups, including Sportsbackers, Richmond 2015 (Opening Ceremonies for the World Championships), First Fridays Artwalk, Slave Trail Commission, The Virginia Capital Trail, and many others.

Under his leadership, Venture Richmond launched the ‘RVA’ campaign, an effort that brought together VCU Brandcenter students and multiple, otherwise competitive, Richmond advertising agencies to launch the RVA brand identity as an open-source symbol of a vibrant and creative community. Today it is characterized by ubiquitous black and white RVA bumper stickers, more than 200,000 of which have been distributed throughout the region.

Venture Richmond has partnered with the City on the highly successful Clean & Safe program and recent downtown landscaping initiatives on Broad Street and at downtown gateways.

Berry has also been responsible for management of the Riverfront Canal Walk and Brown’s Island and has coordinated development issues for numerous projects along the canal.

He led the creation of the Tredegar Green natural grass amphitheater and restoration of the historic canal on property donated by NewMarket Corp. Tredegar Green has become the new main stage venue for the Folk Festival. In 2012, Berry spearheaded the fundraising and construction of the 5th Street Pedestrian Bridge which has improved public access to Brown’s Island.

He also coordinated the effort to design the first leg of the Virginia Capital Trail in Richmond along Dock Street.

“No one is more passionate about Richmond than Jack Berry,” Doswell said. “He is Downtown Richmond’s biggest booster and one of its strongest leaders.”

John Bates, Venture’s General Counsel, said, “Jack has promoted downtown from the beginning of its rebirth in the late 1990s, when there were only 6,000 residents living in the downtown district.

Downtown now boasts almost 20,000 residents and is one of the most vibrant and fastest growing areas in the region.”

Brian Jackson, chair of Venture’s Executive Committee, said, “Jack is a model of collaborative leadership. He has worked on many community initiatives that have made a difference in Richmond, from supplier diversity to teacher recruiting to signature arts and cultural events.”

Mark Merhige, chair of Venture’s Riverfront Committee, said, “Jack is the ultimate team player, never seeking recognition, always willing to partner with city and community leaders to help move the city forward. Jack will be sorely missed at Venture Richmond, but hopefully his service to the citizens of Richmond is far from over.”

Berry said, “I am giving up the best job in Richmond, and a team of co-workers I love, in order to venture into a new arena. I will miss my amazing colleagues, but hopefully the next step in my public service career will be just as rewarding.”

Venture Richmond will take this opportunity to accelerate a strategic planning process which will serve as a road map for the organization in the years ahead. The process will involve all community stakeholders and should be concluded within this calendar year.

Venture Richmond’s Deputy Director for Marketing and Events, Lisa Sims, will serve as Interim Executive Director starting May 1.

Lisa Sims joined Venture Richmond in 2006 and has directed all of the organization’s events, including Friday Cheers, 2nd Street Festival, RVA Fireworks on the James, Richmond Folk Festival, Dominion RiverRock (with Sportsbackers), Easter on Parade, and many others, and has worked with countless community organizations to produce other downtown events, like TEDxRVA and the Richmond 2015 Opening Ceremonies.

Sims was previously Vice President of Marketing for the Richmond Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau (now Richmond Region Tourism), and prior to that was Executive Director of the Asheville (NC) Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Sims said, “Richmond has undergone an amazing transformation over the last twenty years and Jack is an integral part of that story. There is simply no one who works harder, or cares more. The staff of Venture Richmond, the City of Richmond, and the entire region owe him a tremendousdebt of gratitude. It’s difficult to imagine Venture Richmond without Jack – as a leader, a colleague and a friend. But we have an excellent team with enormous energy and creativity that will keep adding to the vitality of RVA in the months and years to come.”

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Richard Hayes

When Richard isn’t rounding up neighborhood news, he’s likely watching soccer or chasing down the latest and greatest craft beer.

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