Today, Spoleto Festival USA’s General Director and CEO Mena Mark Hanna announced the appointment of Rachel Coker as Chief Advancement Officer. Coker joins the team following a months-long search conducted by Isaacson, Miller, with support from Festival Board members and senior staff. 

A talented and accomplished philanthropic leader, Coker brings with her more than two decades of experience. Previously, she served as the Chief Development and External Affairs Officer at the Ackerman Institute for the Family in New York City, leading fundraising, board relations, and strategic communications and partnership opportunities. Prior to this role, Coker was Deputy Director, External Affairs, at New York’s Storm King Art Center, where for over 10 years, she oversaw fundraising, special events, and communications, as well as a major capital campaign, playing a key role in the organization’s tremendous growth.

A Charleston, native, Coker holds an MA in Arts Administration from Columbia University and a BA from Wellesley College. A longtime Spoleto Festival enthusiast, Coker analyzed Spoleto’s impact on Charleston as part of her master’s thesis. 

Says Coker: “I could not have asked for a more exciting opportunity—to return home to Charleston and to be part of this world-renowned arts organization. I look forward to working alongside Mena, Spoleto’s Board, and the entire Festival team to help advance the organization’s mission and affirm its leadership within Charleston’s cultural landscape and the greater artistic community.”

Coker begins her new post within Hanna’s Senior Management Team this August, joining recent hires Katharine Laidlaw, Brent Dickman, Liz Keller-Tripp, and Dexter Foxworth at a pivotal time in the organization’s longevity. Coker replaces Spoleto’s outgoing CAO, Julia Forster, who retired at the end of the 2023 Festival season. Says Hanna: “I am confident that Rachel’s distinguished background and philanthropic leadership will prove invaluable to Spoleto’s future and our Festival’s continued success. I am eager to welcome Rachel to the Spoleto team and excited to see all she will accomplish.”