Helayne Spivak stepping down as executive director at VCU Brandcenter

Helayne Spivak, executive director of the Virginia Commonwealth University Brandcenter, has announced she will be stepping down from her role, following the successful completion of a search for a new executive director. 

Helayne Spivak
Helayne Spivak

Spivak joined the Brandcenter in 2012 and has brought some of the best minds in marketing to Richmond to inspire students and speak at the prestigious Friday Forum. Leaders such as Jonathan Mildenhall, CMO, Airbnb; Wendy Clark, CEO, DDB Worldwide; Pam El, CMO, NBA and WNBA; and many others who, in turn, have given projects, jobs and scholarships to Brandcenter students and alumni.

“Throughout Helayne’s five-year directorship, the Brandcenter focused on developing the world’s best creative problem solvers,” said Ed Grier, the VCU School of Business dean who hired Spivak. “It is incredibly inspiring to see our graduates sought after by companies such as Facebook, Apple, Disney Imagineering, IBM and Google to name just a few. Helayne was also committed to the collaboration and smooth transition of the Brandcenter to the School of Business, which helped lead us to our EPIC strategic plan platform.”

Spivak has led extensive efforts around diversity and inclusion. Her work has resulted in more than $200,000 in endowed gifts last year alone to help the Brandcenter increase the diversity of its student body. She also formed a Student Advisory Panel on Diversity & Inclusion, whose mission is to keep a pulse on the atmosphere created at the Brandcenter and ensure everyone, regardless of gender, race, religion, ethnic background or sexual orientation feels welcome.

“On behalf of the board of directors, I would like to express my deep appreciation to Helayne for all that she has given the school, and especially the students, during her tenure,” said John B. Adams, chairman of the Brandcenter board.

Spivak will remain in her role until a new executive director has been appointed and she will assist with the transition and continue her focus on diversity and inclusion throughout the year.

“Now is the time to pass the reigns to the next leader to help continue the growth of this extraordinary school and its exceptional students,” Spivak said. “The Brandcenter offers one of the most respected graduate programs in the country for branding, and I intend to help it lead the way in diversity.”

To learn more about the VCU Brandcenter or to apply, visit

About the VCU Brandcenter

The Virginia Commonwealth University Brandcenter in Richmond, Virginia, is an innovative, two-year graduate program that brings the creative, strategic, business and technology sides of advertising and branding together. Our purpose is to develop the best creative problem solvers in the world. The Brandcenter offers a highly creative environment for students concentrating in five tracks: Copywriting, Art Direction, Strategy, Creative Brand Management and Experience Design. Students earn a Master of Science degree in Business/Branding. Brandcenter alums work at some of the best agencies in the world such as TBWA/Chiat Day, Barton F Graf 9000, Droga5, and Wieden + Kennedy, as well as on the client side helping to build brands such as Target, Apple, Urban Outfitters, Google, Nike, Coke, Facebook and Under Armour.