10th annual black and gold gala

West Virginia State University 10th Annual Black & Gold Gala set for April 12

Contact: Jack Bailey
(304) 766-4109
Feb. 8, 2024
West Virginia State University 10th Annual Black & Gold Gala set for April 12
Event Will Honor Community Leaders 
Nancy Bruns and Lewis Payne, Dr. John L. Fuller, Sr. and E. Gail Pitchford

INSTITUTE, W.Va. – The 10th annual West Virginia State University (WVSU) Black & Gold Gala will take place, Friday, April 12, at the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center. 

The black tie event recognizes the generosity of donors while raising funds to further support educational programs and students at the university. 

The Gala also honors community and business leaders who have made a lasting impact on the state of West Virginia and beyond with the presentation of a presidential award from WVSU President Ericke S. Cage. 
This year’s presidential award honorees are: Nancy Bruns and Lewis Payne; Dr. John L. Fuller, Sr.; and E. Gail Pitchford. 

Nancy BrunsBruns was born and raised in Charleston and is a graduate of Bucknell University. She attended the New England Culinary Institute to pursue her love of food and cooking, inspired by her work with Charleston area chef Otis Laury. She spent 22 years working in the food industry before reviving the Kanawha Valley’s salt industry with her brother, Lewis Payne, in 2013, as J.Q. Dickinson Salt-Works. 

Bruns works as Chairman of the Board of the John L. Dickinson Family Holding Company, managing assets and growing business in West Virginia. She is particularly interested in transforming former mine land into renewable energy complexes to help drive West Virginia forward as an “all of the above” energy state. She is involved with downtown Charleston development projects, specifically the Cox Morton Building which has 27 apartments, two breweries and a hair salon. She sits on the family foundation charitable giving committee which allocates annual gifts in the region. 

Bruns serves on several local boards including the Charleston Area Alliance where she serves as Chair of the Community Development Committee and as a member of the LIFT Center advisory committee, University of Charleston, CAMC Foundation, and the Herscher Foundation. 

Lewis PaynePayne was born and raised in Charleston and received his bachelor’s degree from the College of Charleston in South Carolina and his Juris Doctorate from Ohio Northern University’s Petit College of Law. After practicing law in Kentucky for six years he returned to Charleston in 2003 to work for his family, becoming vice president of operations for several land holding companies and concentrating in the area of litigation, lease work and natural resource management. Payne ran for and won election to Charleston city council in 2008 and served for one four year term.

In 2013 Payne and his sister, Nancy Bruns, revived a longtime family business of salt making by forming JQ Dickinson Salt-Works, based in Malden.   

Currently, Payne sits on the board of the West Virginia Land and Mineral Owners, The West Virginia Land Trust, The Kanawha Valley Council on Philanthropy, The Charleston Area Alliance Community Development Committee and the Charleston Urban Works. He serves as Director and President of the Charleston City Center Business Improvement District. He is also the Treasurer and Director of the Kanawha Salines Foundation Inc., a non-profit whose mission is to educate people about the history of the Kanawha Valley salt industry. 

Dr. John L. Fuller, Sr.Fuller served West Virginia State University in a variety of roles during a career that spanned more than 40 years. He is known to many alumni of the university from his time in the Registrar’s Office where he served as assistant registrar in 1970-1971 before serving as registrar from 1971-1974 and then as director of registration and admissions from 1974-1995 and finally as director of registration and records from 1995-2008. From 2009-2010 he served the university as interim vice president for planning and advancement.

Fuller has been active in the community through volunteer service with a number of organizations including serving as past treasurer of the WVSU National Alumni Association, past president of the advisory council to Shawnee Community School, past president of the executive board of the Community Relations Council of the Charleston Job Corps, past vice president of the Ronald McDonald House Board of Directors, to name a few. He currently serves as chair of the West Dunbar Public Service District Board, as well as secretary of the WVSU Foundation Board, and chair of the Marketing Committee of the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra. 

In addition to his volunteer service, Fuller is a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. and the Barbershop Harmony Society and the Kanawha Kordsmen Chorus. He is also active in the church having served as a trustee and senior warden with St. James Episcopal Church and as a trustee and senior warden for St. Christopher Episcopal Church. 

Fuller is a graduate of WVSU with a bachelor’s degree in sociology. He holds a master’s degree from the West Virginia Graduate College, and a doctorate degree in leadership studies from Kent State University. 

Gail PitchfordPitchford retired in 2021 after serving 15 years as president of the Charleston Area Medical Center (CAMC) Foundation. At the foundation, she was responsible for planning, directing, organization, fundraising and grant processing of a non-profit healthcare foundation with total assets of more than $300 million, 103 endowments, annual fundraising exceeding $2 million and grant funding of approximately $3 million annually. Prior to being named president of the CAMC Foundation, Pitchford had a 25-year career in the banking industry leading highly productive, client focused financial teams. 

Pitchford is a certified fundraising executive and gives back to her community through volunteer service. Currently, she serves on the Board of Directors of the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission and serves as Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Craik-Patton House Foundation, Inc. She has previously served as a member of the WVSU Board of Governors, the CAMC Health Education Research Institute, the Capitol Market, Junior Achievement of West Virginia and the YWCA of Charleston, among others.

She has associate's and bachelor’s degrees from WVSU and a master’s degree from West Virginia University. 

The Black & Gold Gala will begin at 6 p.m. with a reception and silent auction, followed by dinner and the program recognizing honorees at 7:30 p.m., and a dance immediately following the program.

Sponsorships for the Gala are available, and individual tickets are on sale for $150 and can be purchased online at https://connect.wvstateu.edu/gala.

For more information or to purchase tickets, call (304) 766-3020, email gala@wvstateu.edu, or visit https://connect.wvstateu.edu/gala.

The WVSU Foundation Inc. is a 501(c) (3) charitable organization and gifts are deductible to the extent provided by federal and state law.

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West Virginia State University is a public, land-grant, historically black university, which has evolved into a fully accessible, racially integrated, and multi-generational institution, located in Institute, W.Va. As a “living laboratory of human relations,” the university is a community of students, staff, and faculty committed to academic growth, service, and preservation of the racial and cultural diversity of the institution. Its mission is to meet the higher education and economic development needs of the state and region through innovative teaching and applied research.
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