Appointment of VP for Institutional Advancement and Executive Director of the Lincoln University Foundation

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Fundraising professional with 30 years of experience in the field will join Lincoln later this month

LINCOLN UNIVERSITY, Pa. — Ava Willis-Barksdale joins Lincoln University as the Vice President for Institutional Advancement and Executive Director of the Lincoln University Foundation, the University announced today. The appointment is effective January 24, 2022.

Willis-Barksdale is a masters-prepared educational professional with over 30 years of success in organizations across the disciplines of education and healthcare with concentration in the areas of advancement, program building, organizational leadership, and human resources management. Her experience includes special expertise in leadership of teams in planning, implementing and evaluating strategic initiatives, and in preparation of fundraising opportunities, grant proposals and reports. She also has advanced skills in operational management including budget preparation and negotiation, as well as fiscal management of programs and departments.

“Throughout her career, Ms. Willis-Barksdale has focused on creating strong mentor/mentee relationships while simultaneously focusing entire staff on specific strategies. These skills are vital to the success of Lincoln’s advancement functions during this transition period. Building a culture of transformational philanthropy that can be sustained in support of student access and student success is a top priority for the university,” said President Brenda A. Allen. “I am delighted that a highly experienced professional who is knowledgeable about the higher education landscape is joining our senior leadership team at Lincoln.”

Willis-Barksdale is a native of Buffalo, New York. She has earned degrees from Oakwood College (University) in Huntsville, Alabama, and University of Alabama at Birmingham. Her career in higher education includes serving as a program director, an instructor in chemistry, and Director of a Center of Excellence for Multicultural Medicine before moving into the area of development and fundraising. She has authored various successful grants, initiated processes for the implementation/replacement of development systems, and led initiatives to enhance all areas of advancement function.

The appointment of Ms. Ava Willis-Barksdale as Vice President for Institutional Advancement and Executive Director of the Lincoln University Foundation provides an opportunity for Lincoln University to build a dynamic advancement team committed to using best practices to achieve the University’s goals.

Ava is married to Byron Barksdale and has three adult children (Andrea, Angela and Byron II) as well as four grandchildren (Tyler, Ayanna, Alex and Ava).

Lincoln University, the nation’s first degree-granting Historically Black College and University (HBCU), educates and empowers students to lead their communities and change the world. Lincoln offers a rigorous liberal arts education to a diverse student body of approximately 2,200 men and women in more than 35 undergraduate and graduate programs.