Van Wezel Foundation Names Mark Cole Chief Advancement & Marketing Officer

Mark Cole Headshot

SARASOTA, November 9, 2021 – The Van Wezel Foundation (Foundation) is pleased to announce that after a national search led by WittKieffer, Mark Cole has joined the Foundation’s executive leadership team in the newly created position of Chief Advancement & Marketing Officer. Cole is an accomplished senior philanthropy and marketing executive with over 20 years of experience across education and performing arts organizations. He will drive the transformative fundraising campaign to build the new Sarasota Performing Arts Center on The Bay.

CEO Cheryl Mendelson said, “Mark brings a unique combination of fundraising and marketing best practices along with deep knowledge and passion for the performing arts. I know that he will make a seminal contribution to realizing our vision for the new Sarasota Performing Arts Center.”

Cole comes to the Foundation from Miami Dade College (MDC) where he served for six years as vice president of advancement and executive director of Miami Dade College Foundation.  Cole was responsible for the strategic direction and operational functions of fundraising, alumni relations, marketing, and communications. At MDC, Cole worked closely with the college president and the foundation board, leading the plan for a $150 million campaign and raising $85 million during the leadership phase. In addition, Mark and his team increased annual fundraising to over $20 million. 

Cole said, “I am pleased to be joining the Foundation at this pivotal moment. I know the future Sarasota Performing Arts Center will have a profound impact in advancing education and enriching our community for generations to come.”

Cole also brings a breadth of artistic and operational expertise from 13 years at Miami City Ballet as their production director, and then general manager. Cole played a critical role in the Ballet’s 5-year strategic plan, philanthropy growth, and marketing rebranding, while also representing the Ballet’s interest as a resident company during the planning, construction and opening of the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts.

Cole holds a Bachelor of Arts in theatre from Auburn University and a Master of Fine Arts in theatre from the University of Minnesota. He began his career as a professional actor and stage manager.


The Van Wezel Foundation’s mission is to create and sustain a vibrant performing arts center, advance education, and enrich communities by inspiring minds through the power of the arts. The Foundation has partnered with the City of Sarasota since 1987 to support arts education throughout our region, serving more than 50,000 students with enriching arts-based education opportunities and professional development for more than 400 teachers across five counties. To foster a connection between the people, the bay and the spirit of human creativity, the Foundation is leading The Future is Now Campaign, a master plan for Bayfront development that includes a new performing arts center. To learn more about the new Sarasota Performing Arts Center and get involved, visit For more information on the Foundation and its mission, visit, or join us on Facebook and Instagram.

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