Ava Willis-Barksdale

ava-willisAva Willis-Barksdale is a seasoned professional whose career spans over thirty years of success in education, healthcare, fundraising support, and organizational leadership. She has concentrated her work in the areas of program and team building, human resource development and management, and strategic planning and implementation. She has been recognized for creating strong mentor/mentee relations while still focusing the entire staff or organization on strategies needed to move forward.

Currently, Ava serves as the Vice President and Director of Human Resources at Girard College, a small but historic independent school, serving grades one through twelve, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Prior to serving at Girard, she has worked in Institutional Advancement at such institutions as Fox Chase Cancer Center (Philadelphia, PA), Loyola University Medical Center (Chicago, IL), and Earlham College (Richmond, IN). Ava excelled in the management of fundraising processes included in campaign planning and management, alumni relations, advancement services, donor research and retention, event planning and stewardship strategies. During her tenure at Loyola, she was an inaugural fellow in the Minority Advancement Institute of CASE. She also served on the board of a non-profit entity in Chicago serving women in need called Bottomless Closet.

Ava’s fundraising career grew out of her early healthcare career and was followed by instructional and program management positions at her undergraduate alma mater, Oakwood University (Huntsville, AL), at Quillen School of Medicine, East Tennessee State University (Johnson City, TN) and at Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine (Athens, OH).

Ava continues to lend her support to organizations in her current community of Philadelphia by serving on the boards of the West Oak Lane Charter School and the North Philadelphia Community Service Corporation.

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