HAMPTON ROADS, VA [August 6, 2019] – The Virginia Symphony Orchestra is excited to welcome its 2019-2020 class of executive officers, as well as a new member, to its Board of Directors. With them they bring considerable experience in organizational leadership and solid business acumen.

Mike McClellan, Vice President of Strategic Planning for Norfolk Southern Corporation, is the VSO’s new Board Chair. McClellan joined NS in 1998, having begun his transportation career in 1985.  McClellan holds a BA from the University of Virginia and an MBA from the University of Cincinnati.  While at UVA, Mike played the trombone in the Charlottesville Symphony and was director of the UVA Pep Band. 

McClellan has served on the Virginia Symphony Orchestra since 2007.  Along with his wife, Norfolk City Councilwoman Andria McClellan, Mike currently chairs the VSO’s Music Director Search Committee.  He and Andria have three sons, Aidan, Lachlan and Roark. 

William “Bill” Van Buren III, President and Chairman of Kaufman & Canoles, was elected as Vice Chair. Van Buren has served on the VSO Board since 2013. His commercial law practice includes corporate law, mergers and acquisitions, banking and finance, capital formation, contract negotiation, and health care.

Bill is actively involved in the Hampton Roads community and sits on the boards of a variety of organizations and corporations including the EVMS Health Services Foundation, the Cancer Care Foundation of Tidewater, the Foundation for Independent Colleges, SunTrust Bank, and Norfolk Academy. Bill holds a bachelor’s degree from the College of William and Mary and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Virginia School of Law.

Becky Sawyer, Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer for Sentara Healthcare, now in her second year on the VSO Board, was elected Treasurer. Becky is responsible for HR administration for 28,000 employees across 12 hospitals and a fully integrated system with clinical and health plan operations in Virginia, North Carolina, Alabama and Ohio.

Prior to her promotion to a senior corporate position, Becky was Vice President of HR responsible for nine hospitals, plus Sentara Medical Group, Sentara Enterprises, Sentara Life Care and the Sentara-owned health plan, Optima Health. In 26 years with Sentara, Ms. Sawyer has held increasingly responsible HR leadership positions across multiple divisions. Becky co-led system implementation of an innovative ‘HR Solutions’ model, which concentrates expertise and streamlines delivery of HR services across the enterprise.

Becky has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Troy University and a master’s in public administration from Arkansas State University. A native of Montana, Becky and her husband Greg reside in Virginia Beach.

Susan Goode will continue her service as Board Secretary, and Pat McDermott, Senior Partner at McDermott and Ward Law Firm in Newport News, has been named Chair Emeritus for the upcoming season.

Renée Howard, Partner at KPMG, is the VSO Board’s newest member. At KPMG, Renée serves the needs of businesses, governments, public-sector agencies, not-for-profits and capital markets through delivery of audit and assurance services. Prior to joining KPMG, Renée was a Business Analyst with Sentara Healthcare. She holds an MBA from The College of William and Mary, BSBA from Old Dominion University, and a CPA. She serves as Chair of the Old Dominion University Accounting Advisory Board and Treasurer of the Board of Directors for the Down Syndrome Association of Hampton Roads. Renée is an alumna of CIVIC Leadership Institute’s Class of 2017 and currently serves as a CIVIC Scholars Mentor. Renée was named a 2017 Women in Business honoree by Hampton Roads Inside Business.

 Renée is a resident of Norfolk and enjoys cooking, running and quality time with her husband of 25 years, Stan, and 3 children: Vivian, Jackson, and Lexington Marie.


As the region’s most celebrated musical, educational and entrepreneurial arts organization, the Virginia Symphony Orchestra continues to challenge expectations and push the boundaries of what an American orchestra can be – even as it approaches its 100th anniversary in 2020.

At the heart of the VSO’s narrative is innovation.  In 1991 the VSO made a very bold move in appointing the gifted young American conductor JoAnn Falletta as its music director. Since then, the orchestra has received national attention for its unique mission serving a home area of 1.7 million across the diverse communities of southeastern Virginia.  Through appearances at the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall and commitment to adventurous programming, the VSO and its musicians have been highlighted in the media including The New York Times, The Washington Post, National Public Radio and BBC Worldwide News.

As the largest arts performing organization in southeastern Virginia, the VSO and VSO Chorus present more than 150 concerts and events to educate, enlighten and entertain more than 100,000 residents and visitors each year. Recent innovations include health and wellness programs, including interactive therapeutic experiences for people living with Alzheimer’s and dementia.  As it approaches its Centennial year, the Orchestra and its legions of fans look forward with anticipation as the VSO conducts a worldwide search for its next music director.

For more information about the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, visit virginiasymphony.org.





July 31, 2019

Contact: Monica Meyer, Vice President of Marketing, Sales and Public Relations
Phone: 757.213.1431 | email: mmeyer@virginiasymphony.org

Contact: Peyton Carter, Manager of Digital Media Strategies and Patron Loyalty
Phone: 757.213.1420 | email: pcarter@virginiasymphony.org

Twitter: @VASymphony
Facebook: facebook.com/virginiasymphony

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