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ConnectVA Business User Spotlight: Wes McQuillen, The Hippodrome Theater


Get to know this week’s ConnectVA Business User Spotlight: Wes McQuillen, Operations and Marketing Manager at the Hippodrome Theater!

Tell us about yourself.

I’m Wes McQuillen, and I’m the Operations and Marketing Manager at the Hippodrome Theater. Before I started here earlier this year, I came from the nonprofit sector – with former positions at the Neighborhood Resource Center of Greater Fulton and Housing Opportunities Made Equal.

How is your work having an impact on the nonprofit sector? 

We focus on helping people put on seamless, impressive events with low stress coordination – you tell us what needs to happen and what it needs to look like in order to truly achieve your goals, and then you let us handle it while you enjoy networking with coworkers, clients, volunteers, or donors. We customize every event, so we can accommodate all kinds of special requests and different groups’ needs. We’re very flexible with nonprofit organizations on budget – don’t go by the published prices, just call us and tell us what your budget is and we’ll craft the right event around it. We also believe in developing a true partnership toward your long term success, which is why we’ve hosted some nonprofit organizations’ events year after year.

What do you find most rewarding about your work?

I really love being able to share a hundred-year-old Jackson Ward historical landmark with the community while enabling great organizations to leverage the power of an impressive event towards their overall success, especially development and community outreach. There are all kinds of creative ways to use events to connect with donors, communities you serve, coworkers, new donors, lapsed donors, and volunteers . We have a versatile space with rooms of all sizes that can be configured however you need – we can accommodate multi-level, multi-tiered concurrent events with different in-house catering, bars, lighting, sound, video, and decor for different rooms. Just let us know what you want it to look like. It brings new life back to the Hippodrome Theater, which served as the cultural epicenter for Jackson Ward during its heyday as the Harlem of the South, educating our guests about African American history in Richmond. Feel free to schedule a tour of the theater and the Taylor Mansion, we’re happy to tell you about it.

What are some major challenges you have faced and how you handled them?

I prefer to think of them as major opportunities – there are several very large nonprofit organizations who have done multiple (as in, more than 15) events here who have very specific goals and compliance requirements that need a high level of attention to detail. We always rise to the occasion with detailed layout maps and run-of-show scripts. Executing every detail of these events concurrently on schedule is a major challenge, but also a major opportunity to show our level of professionalism and the true technological and logistic capabilities of our completed renovated venue complex, including the Hippodrome Theater, the Speakeasy, and the Speakeasy Grill.

What?s coming next for you and/or for your business that really excites you?

We are excited to host the Top 40 Under 40 Nonprofit Spotlight with YNPN RVA and Style Weekly on November 12th.  The event celebrates the nonprofit leaders and professionals selected for Sytle Weekly?s Top 40 Under 40 Annual list and recognizes these extraordinary young people who are changing our community through their work in the nonprofit sector. 

The event will commence with networking and then attendees have a chance to hear from a panel of the current Top 40 Under 40 honorees in the nonprofit sector, moderated by Style Weekly’s Editor in Chief, as well as a keynote from a Top 40 Under 40 alumni.  The evening’s presentation focuses on professional development, career growth, overcoming challenges, and community engagement in the nonprofit sector.  After the presentations, a reception will be held with networking, raffles and prizes.

The event is open to all and you can register here.

How does your work or business empower individuals, advance organizations, and strengthen community? 

Events catalyze action when people meet face to face with common goals. Well crafted events bring those people together so that they can learn from each other, bond with each other, and make plans for the future together. The people you meet at a banquet, or a mixer, or a concert, or a party are the ones you really connect with and follow up with – either to work together, volunteer, donate, or promote the mission by word of mouth. 

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