The Virginia Governor’s Office announced last week the appointment of three new members of the University of Mary Washington Board of Visitors. John Anstey of Roanoke, Virginia, a 1993 Mary Washington alumnus; Nicole Neily of Arlington, Virginia; and Rev. Dean Nelson of Montgomery Village, Maryland, will serve four-year terms as members of the University’s governing board. They succeed Heather Crislip ’95, Deborah Santiago ’90 and Kerri Barile ’94, whose terms ended on June 30, 2023.
In his role as president and CEO of Anstey Hodge Advertising Group, John Anstey has revived historic properties in Roanoke, contributed pro bono work to nonprofit organizations and made a national footprint in senior living marketing. His work has won numerous awards, including the American Advertising Federation’s highest honor, the Silver Medal Award for lifetime achievement.
Anstey began his career in communications at the Reliance Insurance Company in Philadelphia and served as director of client services for The O’Connor Group regional ad firm. He founded the Anstey Hodge agency in 2003 and was named the following year to the Blue Ridge Business Journal’s “Top 20 Under 40 List” of up-and-coming business leaders.
He’s held leadership roles with the United Way of Roanoke Valley, the Roanoke Valley SPCA, Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Philadelphia Corporate Volunteer Council and the Public Relations Society of America. He is a graduate of the Roanoke College Management Institute and the Roanoke Regional Chamber’s Leadership Roanoke Valley program.
Anstey is a 1993 Who’s Who graduate of Mary Washington, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in English. He served as founding chair of UMW’s College of Arts and Sciences Advisory Board and received the 2017 Distinguished Alumnus Award. He also earned a master’s degree in English from Longwood University and an MBA from Wake Forest University. He and wife Dr. Kara Lee Matala ’94, also a Mary Washington graduate, have two daughters.
Nicole Neily is president and founder of Parents Defending Education (PDE), a national membership organization that helps parents advocate for their children’s education.
Prior to launching PDE, she created Speech First, a campus free speech organization. She also has served as president of the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, a state-level investigative journalism organization, and as executive director of the Independent Women’s Forum. In the private sector, she has held roles as senior vice president at the crisis communications firm Dezenhall Resources and as director of research analysis for polling firm The Winston Group.
Neily earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and a master’s degree in economic policy and foreign policy from Pepperdine University School of Public Policy in Malibu, California. She lives in Northern Virginia with her husband, Clark, and two children.
Rev. Dean Nelson is vice president of government relations for the national nonprofit Human Coalition, serving women and families in metropolitan areas.
He chairs the Douglass Leadership Institute, which empowers minority leaders to bring positive change to their communities, and recently was appointed by Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan to serve on the Congressional Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Commission whose mission is to honor the life and legacy of Frederick Douglass.
Nelson served previously as executive director for various nonprofits and has spoken for and worked with a diverse array of groups, including the United Way, NAACP, Prison Fellowship, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, National Black Home Educators and TeenPact Leadership Schools. He has appeared on and been published in a variety of media outlets, including MSNBC, ABC and USA Today.
Nelson earned a bachelor’s degree in rhetoric and communication studies from the University of Virginia. He and wife Julia have three children.