The Ben Franklin Bridge in Philadelphia, Photo by Chris Henry.

Valerie V. Gay is a Certified Financial Planner, non-profit administrator, performing artist and thought leader.  Val has been a serial entrepreneur since 2006, beginning with Fortress Arts Academy which provides arts and skill building lessons to children and adults, especially those in underserved communities. Other companies and organizations under Val’s leadership include, Syncopate Creative co-founded with Steve Pappaterra, a firm that works with leaders and organizations to own and share their authentic stories, Spector | Gay Consulting co-founded with Caralyn Spector,  a firm which provides targeted support for nonprofit and social venture organizations that seek to solve societal problems, the EVER Ensemble, a collective of women musicians who perform diverse musical genres, from classical to hip hop, Soul-Full Affirmations, which combines mindfulness practices with music to create a personalized product to assist clients in reaching their goals, and Fuse Vox, an lifestyle and apparel brand which brings cultures together to create a fresh take on traditional pieces.

Val is deputy director and chief experience officer for the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia. She has previously held senior and executive positions, including executive director of Art Sanctuary in Philadelphia, assistant dean for Institutional Advancement for the College of Education at Temple University and vice president and portfolio manager with PNC Advisors where she managed investment portfolios of high net worth individuals and family trusts.

Val serves on the boards of directors of the Blues Babe Foundation, The Philadelphia Cultural Fund, is a member of the Arts + Business Council’s Advisory Board, Wildflower Composers, Philadelphia Contemporary and the Mayor of Philadelphia’s Commission for the Arts. She has received a number of community awards and distinctions, including “101 Most Connected Leaders,” and “Philadelphia’s Most Influential African American Leaders”.

In 2019, Val received an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from St. Joseph’s University, and has earned a Professional Studies Certificate and a Master of Music in Vocal Performance at Temple University’s Boyer College of Music and Dance, a Bachelor of Music in Voice Performance from the University of the Arts and completed degree course work at Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University.

Caralyn Spector is a Philadelphia native who has been working in the nonprofit, government, and private sectors for more than 30 years. Her work has supported organizations throughout the country at the intersection of creativity, strategy, and social justice

Prior to her work with Spector|Gay, Ms. Spector was a Program Officer on the Creative Communities team of the William Penn Foundation where her portfolio focused on operating support for arts organizations across Philadelphia. Previously, she served as Interim President and CEO of DataArts, bringing big data to the arts and culture sector.  During the Obama Administration, she served as Deputy and Chief of Staff to the Senior Deputy Chair and the Senior Policy Advisor to the Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts.

Earlier, she was the Program Manager for the Columbia University Arts Initiative, in which role she produced new programs to make the arts and culture of New York City more accessible to Columbia students, faculty, staff, alumni, and neighbors.  Ms. Spector also worked in marketing and business management for shows off and on Broadway including Chicago, Riverdance, The Rocky Horror Show, Annie Get Your Gun, Spamalot, and The Donkey Show.

Ms. Spector has also worked with an array of organizations during her career including Americans for the Arts,  Blue Star Families, Disney Theatrical Productions, Endowment for the Humanities,  Fleisher Art Memorial, Jordan Roth Productions Kennedy Center, National Intrepid Center of Excellence at Walter Reed, National Science Foundation, National Nickelodeon Productions,  Playbill Inc., Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), State Education of Directors of Art Education, Theatreworks/USA, U.S. Department of Defense, and U.S. Department of Education, among others. 

Caralyn also serves on the Fresh Artists, CultureWorks, and the Philadelphia Cultural Fund boards

Caralyn received her B.A. from Barnard Colleg and her M.A. in Creative Leadership from Minneapolis College of Art and Design.  She has a certificate in Executive Leadership from National Arts Strategies (NAS) Executive Program in Arts and Culture Strategy at the School of Social Policy, University of Pennsylvania and a certificate in Diversity & Inclusion in HR from Cornell University.