Roanoke Cultural Endowment is pleased to announce the addition of Victoria Thornton as our newest City-appointed member to our Board of Directors. Victoria serves in the Human Resources Department at Roanoke City Public Schools and brings a fresh perspective to our organization. As a long-time resident of Roanoke, Victoria has dedicated much of her time to giving back to the community she loves.

Q: We are so excited to have you as a member of the Roanoke Cultural Endowment board, and we would love to hear how you became involved with the RCE.

Victoria: My husband and I recently became empty nesters and were thinking about how best we could get more involved with our community, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity. I was eager to contribute ideas and be a part of a team making important decisions about funding Roanoke’s cultural organizations–a personal passion of mine.  I am grateful for the opportunity to be on the RCE board; it’s offered me a unique chance to make a difference in our community and to contribute to the vibrant cultural scene in Roanoke

Q: What is a day in the life of Victoria Thornton? Tell us about yourself!

Victoria and City Council member Vivian Sanchez-Jones read to RCPS children in English and Spanish.
Victoria and City Council member Vivian Sanchez-Jones read to RCPS children in English and Spanish.

Victoria: Working for Roanoke City Public Schools has certainly had an outsized impact on my life! Both my husband and my youngest daughter work here as well; so, as you can imagine, it is a big part of who we are. I have been very fortunate to work with the full breadth of our Roanoke community in varying capacities thanks to my RCPS career.  Whether it’s helping a parent, child, or coworker; setting up community partnerships; or helping someone in need, I endeavor to educate and assist our community to the best of my ability. I also think a work-life balance is incredibly important to a happy, healthy life. That is why I like planning trips with my friends and family, playing with my grand puppies, attending Pilates and Zumba classes, and spending time with my incredible children.

Q: Can you share an instance when arts and culture made a difference in your life (or to you)?

Victoria: I was very blessed to grow up with music in my home! My mother was a piano teacher and taught many students (me included). She shared her love and many talents with everyone she could; she was an exceptionally giving woman. I grew up watching the impact my mother had on so many people in our community and feel her inspiration every day. I remember her being remarkably inclusive at a time when those ideals were not yet valued in society. I saw my mother work tirelessly to help her students discover their love for music and to give us all the space to grow, explore, and heal. She pushed us hard to succeed, whether it be through piano competitions or the annual National Piano Guild. At her funeral, all my mother’s students, past and present, old and young, were there to cherish her memory together. This was an incredible experience for me. They set up the Joycelyn “Fudgie Lee” Farrelly Scholarship fund in memory of my mother so her legacy will continue. Now, I attend the scholarship dinner each May and present the award to its winner–an honor I feel so lucky to bestow.

Victoria’s mother, Fudgie Farrelly, with several senior students.
Victoria’s mother, Fudgie Farrelly, with several senior students.
Jocelyn “Fudgie Lee” Farrelly Scholarship recipient Anne Marie Thorell with Victoria.
Joycelyn “Fudgie Lee” Farrelly Scholarship recipient Anne Marie Thorell with Victoria.

Q: What is your creative outlet? 

Victoria playing the piano.
Victoria playing the piano.

Victoria: I love playing the piano, going to the symphony, riding horses, reading a good book–and who doesn’t love a good paint night with friends and family? Oh, and I almost forgot, I absolutely adore dancing! I was fortunate enough to get to dance in The Nutcracker just a few years ago. It surprised my children that their mom was dancing for Pedro Szalay’s Southwestern Virginia Ballet dance company at the Berglund Center. When folks would ask me if my children were also dancing the answer was, “no, this is for me.” I never thought I’d be on stage in The Nutcracker, or if I were, it would be playing the piano! You just never know! The whole experience was a “HOOT.” Stepping out of your comfort zone can really be amazing!

Q: What kind of impact do you hope to see from the RCE’s future operating grants to local nonprofit organizations?

Victoria: The RCE’s future operating grants to local nonprofit organizations will have a significant impact on the growing cultural landscape of our community. The sustainability and stability the Endowment’s mission promises will allow us to strengthen our arts and cultural nonprofits, freeing our organizations to develop new initiatives that respond to community need, today and for years to come. The RCE can elevate our cultural ecosystem and enrich the lives of all community members.

Q: Is there anything specific about the Endowment and its mission that resonates most with you?

Victoria: The Endowment is precise in its endeavors to sustain the arts, something I find to be extremely important. Getting this message out to our entire community: every neighborhood, school, and individual is something I want to focus on. I also feel very strongly about our youth and assuring their opportunities for exposure to Roanoke’s thriving arts and cultural activities.  I believe making these activities more accessible across our community would enhance so many lives. 

Q: Why do you believe people should donate to the Roanoke Cultural Endowment?

Victoria: Donating to the Endowment is a meaningful way to support and invest in Roanoke. It ensures not only the funding for arts and cultural organizations, but also the availability of these initiatives for future generations. The Roanoke Cultural Endowment enables Roanoke’s long-term legacy of cultural enrichment. It also supports Roanoke’s economic growth and, at the individual level, enhances each community member’s sense of identity and creativity. I encourage you to make your gift today!    

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