Virginia Museum of Transportation welcomes new executive director

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Incoming Virginia Museum of Transportation Executive Director Lisa Sphar, left, and outgoing Executive Director Bev Fitzpatrick.
Virginia Museum of Transportation
ROANOKE, Va. — Following a nationwide search, Roanoke’s Lisa Sphar has been named the new Executive Director of the Virginia Museum of Transportation. Sphar will officially take over as Executive Director on Jan. 1, 2018.

“I am thrilled for the opportunity to continue the good work and positive momentum the museum has experienced in recent years,” Sphar says. “If you consider the history of Roanoke, the growth of the Commonwealth, and certainly the nation, advances in and access to transportation are major influencers shaping our society. I look forward to celebrating and honoring that heritage.”

Last June, outgoing Executive Director Bev Fitzpatrick announced his intentions to retire. Soon after, a nationwide search was conducted for the museum’s next leader. Fitzpatrick will stay on through December to assist with the transition and help acclimate Sphar to her new role.

“I’m excited for the Museum, our supporters, and the thousands of visitors that enjoy our exhibits every year,” said Fitzpatrick. “Lisa is a proven leader and a talented fundraiser which the Museum needs at this point in its development. She has the passion, talent, and determination to keep the official transportation museum of the Commonwealth on the right track.”

Sphar’s professional accomplishments and award-winning work with Advance Auto Parts helped hone her skills as a community engagement advocate. Of her many accomplishments with non-profit and for-profit organizations, Sphar’s areas of expertise include marketing, strategic planning, business development, and fundraising.

“As community engagement manager at Advance, I enjoyed the challenge of managing all community and charitable initiatives nationwide,” Sphar says. “I have a passion for partnering with the community in support of deserving non-profit organizations and I look forward to focusing my efforts on securing the future of the museum.”

The future includes a preservation and education facility to preserve, protect, and maintain the Norfolk & Western giants of steam. The three-track, climate-controlled facility will protect and preserve the popular Class J 4-8-4 No. 611, as well as the Class A 2-6-6-4 No. 1218 and the Class Y6a 2-8-8-2 No. 2156 steam freight locomotives.

“We have the utmost confidence in Lisa’s ability to engage the community and build upon the strong bonds that have been formed with our individual and corporate supporters,” museum board President William L. Harris III says.

The museum has organized an evening of dinner, dancing, and fun at The Hotel Roanoke to celebrate and honor the legacy of outgoing Executive Director Bev Fitzpatrick. The event is Saturday, Jan. 20, from 5:30 to 11 p.m. and includes opportunities to gather with friends, reminisce, and help sustain Bev’s legacy at the Virginia Museum of Transportation.

— A Virginia Museum of Transportation news release. Dec. 7, 2017.

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