The UVA Alumni Association has selected Sonya Hairston to be the Executive Director of the Ridley Scholarship Program. She assumed the role on November 1, 2021.

Sonya HairstonAs a 1988 graduate of the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education, joining Ridley is a welcome homecoming for Hairston. She brings extensive experience as a senior executive to the role, coming to Ridley from Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee, where she served as Director of Advancement, Corporate, Community, Alumni and External Relations for the College of Leadership and Public Service. Prior to her time at Lipscomb, she founded and led two Nashville-based companies focused on marketing, event planning and business etiquette, and worked as a financial advisor and asset manager for Morgan Stanley Smith Barney.

An active member of her community, Hairston has served on the boards of numerous civic and charitable organizations. She also has a passion for youth issues, having volunteered with the GAP Youth Training Services, Junior Achievement and the youth ministry at her church. In addition, Hairston has served as a mentor for inner city teen girls and has given her time to several other youth-related organizations in both volunteering and fundraising capacities.

Sonya will manage and coordinate all aspects of the Ridley Scholarship Program, including fundraising, programming, and supporting the work of Ridley’s Board of Directors. She will serve as a critical link between Ridley and the University community at large. After a slate of fall events including scholar orientation, a conversation with President Ryan, and a social outing to Carter’s Mountain, the new year brings new opportunities. With the launch of the Truist-Ridley Leadership Academy programming in January and the kickoff to the Ridley 35th Anniversary Celebration at Black Alumni Weekend this April, Hairston’s leadership of the Ridley program could not be timelier.


About the Ridley Scholarship Program

Established in 1987, the Walter N. Ridley Scholarship Program is named for the first Black graduate of the University of Virginia. The program, which seeks to attract Black students of the highest academic caliber, has awarded more than 300 scholarships and held assets of $14.2 million as of the past fiscal year. The Ridley Scholarship Program is administered by the UVA Alumni Association.