By Shawn Nowlin
The Taubman Art Museum recognized two powerful difference-makers in the community at their annual women’s luncheon on May 11.
Featuring some of the region’s top female philanthropic and professional community members in attendance, this year’s honorees were Roanoke City Public Schools Superintendent Verletta White and Regine Archer, the Blue Ridge Beverage Company, Inc., Chairman Emerita.
Archer received the Ann Fralin Award, which recognizes a woman for her vision, commitment and support of the arts, education and quality of life in the community. White received the Sheila S. Strauss Art Venture Award, which recognizes a woman for her outstanding leadership in arts education and volunteerism in partnership with the Taubman Museum of Art.
Cynthia Fralin served as event chair, while Jean Hopstetter, a Taubman Museum of Art Board Trustee, served as the event’s master of ceremony. Hopstetter, also the Member One Federal Credit Union Senior Executive vice president, presented both White and Archer their awards.
“What a joy it was to come together again to recognize the dynamic contributions women in our community have made to further arts, culture and education,” said Cindy Petersen, executive director of the Taubman Museum of Art. “Community engagement, innovation and opening the Museum’s doors even wider speaks true to our continued, mission-driven work. Superintendent Verletta White and Regine Archer share this same commitment to informing and inspiring our community, and we were so pleased to honor them for their work in Roanoke and beyond.”
After earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Education from Towson University, White furthered her education at the College of Notre Dame in Maryland, graduating with a Master of Arts degree in Leadership in Teaching. Currently, White is a doctoral candidate in urban educational leadership at Morgan State University.
White’s teaching career began three decades ago when she was hired in 1992 as an elementary school teacher in Baltimore City. Three years later, she accepted a teaching position in Baltimore County, the nation’s 25th largest school district. Over the next 25 years, White served in a variety of roles, including teacher, teacher mentor, assistant principal, principal, Central Office administrator, chief academic officer, area assistant superintendent and superintendent.
Appointed on July 1, 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, White is currently in her second year as Superintendent of Roanoke City Public Schools. An example of her leadership came on June 9, 2021, when a student was shot outside Roanoke’s Berglund Center as his classmates were inside rehearsing their graduation ceremony.
Said Superintendent White hours after the shooting, “Today’s decision about tomorrow and Friday’s graduation did not come lightly. We had to think about all the safety precautions and ready or not we were ready. We decided to partner with the police department to make sure that additional police will be present.”
Along with the awards ceremony, the 17th Annual Women’s Luncheon featured a keynote address from Dr. Anna O. Marley, Vice President of Museum Research and Scholarship, Kenneth R. Woodcock Curator of Historical American Art and Director of the Center for the Study of the American Artist at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.