Dr. Phillips Center Announces Chairman Jim Pugh’s Retirement and Adds New Chair and Vice Chair to its Board

-Pugh retires following a 19-year term -

- Ed Timberlake appointed Chair and Sibille Pritchard Vice Chair of the Board -

- Founding Donor Neal Dempsey gifts $1 million in honor of Pugh’s legacy -

- Board Member Irving Matthews gifts $1.1 million for arts center’s phase 2 capital construction -

ORLANDO, FLA. (July 13, 2022) – Two decades ago, visionary and Founding Donor Jim Pugh set out to build one of the greatest performing arts centers in the world. Today, following the completion of the building in downtown Orlando, Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts announces Pugh’s retirement as Chairman of the Board of Directors, closing out a 19-year tenure.

With his official status moving from Chairman to Chair Emeritus effective immediately, long-standing member and 28-year Orlando resident Ed Timberlake has been appointed Chairman for a two-year term. With his first assignment, Timberlake has appointed accomplished businesswoman Sibille Pritchard as Vice Chair.

To kick off Pugh’s last Board meeting on June 30, long-time friend and donor Neal Dempsey announced a $1 million donation to the arts center to honor Pugh’s legacy through the support of different initiatives and education programs. Board Member and community leader Irving Matthews also announced a $1.1 million gift to go toward the arts center’s phase 2 capital construction.

“Jim led the design and construction, established a successful business and influenced a thriving culture, and we are so thankful for his leadership. His retirement signals the next phase of our journey under a growing diverse, experienced and well-respected Board of Directors. Together we will further the vision of Arts For Every Life ®, complete the master plan for the 9-acre property and continue positioning the arts center as a global destination,” said Kathy Ramsberger, president and CEO at Dr. Phillips Center.

“I’m thankful to everyone who put their hard-earned money, time and effort into this project, and most importantly, for showing how philanthropy can positively impact a community. I’m elated for Ed and Sibille, who have been remarkably engaged and supportive members of the Board. I believe they have the qualities and drive to lead this organization with the same standard of excellence as when we started,” said Pugh.

“This is an incredible opportunity to honor Pugh’s legacy by ensuring the success of the organization for future generations. We intend to continue reinforcing the arts center as a source of pride, an economic engine and a diverse and inclusive place for our entire region to enjoy,” said Timberlake.

“For decades, Jim has been committed to ensuring that Orlando has a world-class performing arts center. Thanks to his tireless efforts, the Dr. Phillips Center is a showcase of the power of the arts to make a meaningful impact in the lives of all who call our city home. I’m grateful for Jim’s contributions on the board of directors and know that he’ll continue to be a champion for arts and culture in our community,” said City of Orlando Mayor Dyer.

“Jim’s commitment to arts and culture has impacted Orange County tremendously. His leadership at the Dr. Phillips Center and throughout our community will impact our residents and visitors for many years to come. I’m proud to have served as a Board Member at the arts center during his time as Chair and grateful for his efforts to bring a state of the art venue to our region,” said Orange County Mayor Jerry L. Demings.

While the 2020-21 season came with many unique challenges brought on by the pandemic, the arts center was able to complete the original design of the building with the opening of Steinmetz Hall in January 2022–-a dream 20 years in the making, paving the way for Pugh’s retirement. The next generation, acoustically perfect, 1,464–1,770-seat venue is one of the greatest concert halls in the world, elevating Central Florida’s status as a cultural and entertainment destination beyond the parks. It has a unique ability to transform in shape, seating and size to accommodate multiple arts forms both amplified and unamplified, including opera and dance, and it attracts regional, national and international artists to the region.

Still to come is a dynamic music room called Judson’s, a gift from Joyce & Judson Green, which will offer cabaret-style seating for intimate, live entertainment. The arts center is also revisiting its master plan to reimagine a permanent design for the Frontyard Festival™ space, a safe, outdoor entertainment venue that brought 6,000+ people back to work and more than 100,000+ guests out of their homes during the most challenging months of the pandemic.

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Biographies are available below:

About Jim Pugh:
Jim Pugh, the founding donor of the Dr. Phillips Center from 2003-2022, and his wife, Alexis, have been lead developers in creating the arts center since its opening in November 2014. Alexis and Jim Pugh Theater, honorably named after their efforts, support the collective vision of enriching the community through Arts For Every Life ®.

Pugh attended the University of Florida where he was involved in student government, Greek life and Army ROTC. He served in the Army for four years and was honorably discharged in 1966. Soon after taking a job with a general contractor in Orlando, Pugh formed Epoch Properties, Epoch Management, Inc. and Epoch Residential, entities encapsulating one of the largest multifamily developers in America. In 2001, Pugh founded a timeshare resort, known as Timescape Resorts, and became an investor and director of American Momentum Bank and owner of Barnie’s Coffee and Tea Co.

Pugh was awarded in 2018 with the Horatio Alger Award, which is bestowed upon admired leaders who have succeeded despite facing adversities, and who have remained committed to higher education and charitable efforts in their local communities. He has served in leadership positions on the boards of many Central Florida non-profits and has been appointed to serve on several civic oversight boards including the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority. Additionally, Pugh is a member of the President’s Advisory Committee on the Arts at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C.

His leadership to finance many nonprofit campaigns and organizations throughout the community serves as an inspiration to many.

About Ed Timberlake:
Ed Timberlake, a member of the Dr. Phillips Center Board of Directors since 2005, has served as Board and Executive Committee member, Chair Finance Committee, Treasurer and Compensation Committee member throughout his tenure. In January 2008, he joined Seaside National Bank & Trust as Chair of the Central Florida Board and as a member of the Bank’s Board of Directors. In 2007, Timberlake retired as President of Bank of America Central Florida, a position he held for seven years. He had been with Bank of America and predecessor organizations since 1992.

In October of 2006, Timberlake was honored by the Jewish National Fund with their Tree of Life Award, a Humanitarian Award given in recognition of outstanding community involvement, professional leadership and compassionate service––their highest honor. In November 2009, he was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award on National Philanthropy Day by the Association of Fundraising Professionals. In 2015, he was honored by Volunteer Florida with a Champion of Service Award in recognition of his lifelong service.

About Sibille Pritchard:
Sibille Pritchard is a Dr. Phillips Center board member, whose business accomplishments and expertise as well as her passion for the arts contribute to numerous organizations within the Central Florida community. She serves as the chair of the Orlando Ballet’s building committee, International Drive Business Improvement District and Global Connections Foundations at UCF. Pritchard is also founder of Hart Communications, where her passion for commercial and tourism development has played a key part in the creation of significant Central Florida projects.

About Neal Dempsey:
Neal Dempsey is an American entrepreneur, angel investor and managing general partner of Bay Partners. Dempsey is also a public speaker, author and lecturer at the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business. He was recently recognized for his philanthropic efforts as the recipient of the Gates Volunteer Service Award at the University of Washington.

Dempsey founded the Dempsey Foundation in 1988 and focuses the company's efforts to improve conditions involving higher education, children and the environment. Through the Dempsey Foundation, he helped establish the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program at the Foster School of Business and a lecture series at Willamette University, which brings nationally recognized speakers on leading-edge environment issues to the campus. The foundation also funds scholarships for students, athletes and junior faculty.

About Irving Matthews:
Irving Matthews a Dr. Phillips Center board member and is currently the president and owner of The Matthews Automotive Group, which includes four franchises––Ford, Kia, Toyota and Mazda. His first dealership broke into Black Enterprise magazine’s Top 100 Minority Automobile Dealerships in its first full year of operation and has continually improved its ranking annually. Matthews entered the automobile business after 20 years of manufacturing experience. Matthew’s primary community service focus has been on improving the educational system and lends his support to several organizations including the Bethune-Cookman University Board of Trustees, where he served as chairman from 2005-2010.

About Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts
Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts is a private nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization in downtown Orlando. The 698,312-square-foot venue includes three theaters: the 2,711-seat Walt Disney Theater, an amplified theater used for touring Broadway shows, concerts and other performances, as well as private events; the 296-seat Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater, a community theater ideal for regional arts groups; and the new 1,464–1,770-seat Steinmetz Hall, which transforms in shape, seating and sound to accommodate a variety of art forms and events. In addition, the AdventHealth School of Arts offers semester classes, summer camps and pre-professional productions; and spaces like the DeVos Family Room and Rooftop Terrace are popular for weddings and other large private or corporate events. Out front, the 3-acre lawn includes Seneff Arts Plaza, where the community enjoyed live entertainment during the pandemic at the arts center’s award-winning Frontyard Festival™, supported by AdventHealth. Opening in Fall 2022, a dynamic music room called Judson’s will offer cabaret-style seating for intimate, live entertainment. The Dr. Phillips Center is supported by the City of Orlando, Orange County, the City of Winter Park, the State of Florida, and generous donors and sponsors.