Personality: Suzanne D. Hall

Spotlight on Thomas Jefferson Award winner from PRSA Richmond Chapter

7/3/2015, 2:23 p.m.
Suzanne D. Hall proudly calls it a “pinnacle moment” — winning the Thomas Jefferson Award in Public Relations from the ...

Suzanne D. Hall proudly calls it a “pinnacle moment” — winning the Thomas Jefferson Award in Public Relations from the Richmond Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America. “I am deeply humbled by this lifetime achievement award, a nomination by my peers and the highest honor in our field,” Ms. Hall, 62, says.

The award adds an exclamation mark to conclude Ms. Hall’s 30-year career at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, where she most recently served as chief communications officer. She retired June 1. Adding icing to the cake, she accepted the PRSA’s top award for excellence in public relations at a ceremony held in the museum’s impressive Marble Hall.

“What a thrill to be the prom queen of PRSA this year, and in this museum that has been my career and my passion for the past 30 years,” she told the audience in her acceptance speech.

“The VMFA has been the focus of my energy and the source of countless agenda-setting opportunities for communicating the importance and value of this institution to enhance lives, distinguish the Commonwealth and gain insights from timeless works of art,” she added.

Ms. Hall says she was tasked at VMFA with “shaping all strategic communications, and for many years, all of the marketing communications as well.

“I initiated VMFA’s social media program, an area that has transformed our field in the past decade,” she further explains. She adds it was her honor to represent the museum “throughout the Richmond region, as well as nationally and internationally” through media relations and her longtime engagement on the national board of the American Alliance of Museums and as a peer reviewer for that organization.

Ms. Hall says she will miss most the museum’s “5,000 years of world-class art, of course, and my colleagues — passionate professionals whose commitment to protect, preserve and interpret the art assures that VMFA is relevant and inspirational for everyone.”

Next up: She is taking her “post-retirement dream job” as director of stewardship and development at St. James’s Episcopal Church in Downtown, where she has been a member for more than 40 years.

“It will be a continuation of a career of service and communications about something powerfully important to me,” Ms. Hall says. “I have been richly blessed in my career.”

Here’s a look at this week’s Personality, Suzanne D. Hall:

Date and place of birth: March 2 in Belmont, N.C.

Alma mater with degrees: Bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Family: Husband, Joe Willis; adult daughters, Sloan Crawford, Jennifer Willis and Larkin Willis Nash; and son, McKendree Crawford.

What motivates me: My message to that audience of communications professionals is “Together we are better.” Ours is a field of collaboration, and this interdependence and connectivity is actually true throughout our lives, regardless of our profession.

The role I took when I joined the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts: Public affairs manager.

Most noteworthy change at VMFA: The transformative 2010 expansion and all the changes that we introduced at that time that have made VMFA one of the most accessible museums in the nation.