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VFH at 40: A Changing Virginia

Posted By Heather A. Widener, Monday, October 20, 2014
Updated: Monday, October 20, 2014

On the evening of October 2, 2014, Virginia Foundation for the Humanities hosted VFH at 40: A Changing Virginia at the historic Jefferson School African American Heritage Center in Charlottesville. This free community event celebrated the Foundation’s rich forty-year history, compelling programs, and shared commitment to shape a more promising future.


More than 100 guests, including Senator Creigh Deeds and Delegate David Toscano, gathered with VFH Board, Staff, and Fellows to mark the occasion and enjoy performances and exhibits celebrating the diversity of VFH programs. Opportunities to connect and discover abounded:


  • Guitarist and BackStory Technical Director Jamal Millner, along with percussionist Matt Wyatt, entertained the audience with live music. Their closing number, “East Coast Rag,” harkened back to Millner’s days on the soundboard of the Piedmont Blues Guitarists tour with John Jackson.
  • Master Mongolian Mask Maker Gankhuyag “Ganna” Natsag displayed his beautiful handmade masks. Ganna’s son Zana, his former apprentice in the Virginia Folklife program, and daughter Maral also performed the “Wolf Warrior” and “Reindeer Girl” traditional Mongolian dances to lively audience cheers.
  • In a quieter but no less compelling moment, guests heard a With Good Reason clip illustrating the depth of scholarship by VFH. A longtime fan of the Virginia Festival of the Book responded by saying, “The radio story we just heard from the young soldier who was shipped off to Vietnam makes you realize we really don’t need video – the radio stories are so vivid!”
  • Striking photographs of Virginia’s dynamic and changing population by the Columbia Pike Documentary Project, a VFH grant recipient, showcased the Foundation’s work to explore the evolving human experience in the Commonwealth.

Following remarks by VFH President Rob Vaughan and Board Chair Barbara Fried, guests raised a glass to VFH and sipped artisanal cider generously provided by Albemarle CiderWorks.


VFH will host another 40th anniversary event, a live recording of BackStory, on January 22, 2015 at the Library of Virginia in Richmond. For those interested in learning more, VFH is also producing a 40 Years 40 Stories series, which chronicles the Foundation’s four decades of work to inspire cultural engagement across Virginia.


More information on the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities is at


* Image: Guitarist and BackStory Technical Director Jamal Millner performs “East Coast Rag.”


* Image: Thanks to A Pimento Catering, a delicious 40th birthday cake features the logo from the VFH 40 Years 40 Stories series.


* Image: Zana Natsag performs the Mongolian Wolf Warrior dance on the historic Jefferson School stage.


* Image: A young guest explores virtual reality views of historic sites provided by Encyclopedia Virginia.


* Image: Guests mingle with the VFH Staff and enjoy program displays throughout the African American Heritage Center.

Tags:  BackStory  Virginia Association of Museums  Virginia Festival of the Book  Virginia Foundation for the Humanities  With Good Reason 

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