Governor appoints five to Board of Visitors

Portraits of four people.
New Board of Visitors members. Top row: Carolina Espinal and Pam El. Bottom row: Alexis Swann and Coleen Santa Ana.

Gov. Ralph Northam appointed four new members to the Virginia Commonwealth University Board of Visitors on Friday and reappointed one other to a four-year term.

Pam El, former executive vice president and chief marketing officer for the National Basketball Association; Carolina Espinal, founding principal of Mozaic Strategies; Coleen Santa Ana, president of Sentara Albemarle Medical Center; and Alexis Swann, Wells Fargo business banking manager for the eastern region of Virginia, will join the board on July 1. Current board member Shantaram Talegaonkar, M.D., received a new four-year term on the board.

El, a 1983 graduate of the School of Mass Communications — now the Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture in the College of Humanities and Sciences — spent more than 30 years in brand management, marketing and creative development, and ultimately rose to become the NBA’s chief marketer, where she was responsible for global marketing operation, brand development and advertising for the NBA, WNBA and the NBA Development League.

Espinal’s firm works to support the creation of more inclusive culture in and outside the workplace. She previously was a senior adviser at Brunswick Group, a global strategic communications advisory. Espinal began her career as a civil rights advocate working on behalf of communities of color at UnidosUS and later was a policy manager at the NAACP.

Santa Ana, a 2005 graduate of the master of health administration program in the College of Health Professions, has been at Sentara Albemarle since 2014, where she has helped lead improvements in the 182-bed medical center’s safety, quality and financial performance. She serves on the boards of trustees of the North Carolina Healthcare Association and College of The Albemarle.

Swann, president of the peninsula market for Wells Fargo, serves on the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation board and the School of Business advisory board at Christopher Newport University. She is a 2019 recipient of the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities humanitarian award.

The terms for board members Jackie Stone, Carol Shapiro and Ron McFarlane will expire at the end of June. 

“I know you all join me in thanking Jackie Stone, Ron McFarlane, and Carol Shapiro for their meaningful and generous contributions to VCU through their board service,” said VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D. “We hope they will remain engaged with our university for many years to come.”

About VCU and VCU Health

Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU enrolls more than 30,000 students in 233 degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Twenty-two of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU’s 11 schools and three colleges. The VCU Health brand represents the VCU health sciences academic programs, the VCU Massey Cancer Center and the VCU Health System, which comprises VCU Medical Center (the only academic medical center in the region), Community Memorial Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, MCV Physicians and Virginia Premier Health Plan. For more, please visit and