Perry Payne Millner ’86 named 2014 commencement speaker

Monday April 28 2014


perry payne millnerPerry Payne Millner '86, the new executive director of the Virginia Theatre Association (VTA), will be the 2014 commencement speaker on May 17. The ceremony begins at 10 a.m. in the Dell. Rain location is Turner Gymnasium.

More than 500 undergraduates and nearly 200 graduate students will receive their diplomas.

Payne Millner received her B.A. from LC in speech communication with minors in music, theatre, and philosophy and won the communication award her senior year.

“I was so very honored and delighted when Dr. (Kenneth) Garren called to invite me to be commencement speaker at Lynchburg College!” Payne Millner said. “LC was formative for me and has been so important to both sides of my family for generations. I can’t wait to be back on campus.”

Payne Millner joined VTA from the Paramount Theater in Charlottesville, Va., where she served as the creative director after a 20-year career in business and the arts in New York City. The VTA is the central resource for connecting, creating, cultivating, and advocating for practitioners of theatre in the commonwealth.

On accepting the position with VTA, Payne Millner said, “VTA has had a tremendous impact on the health and well-being of theatre in Virginia, and in my own life. During high school and college, I experienced firsthand the value of VTA’s conferences, professional development opportunities, and advocacy efforts, not to mention the great, collective heart of its membership. I am so impressed by the focus and passion of VTA’s collegial, gifted, and thoughtful board, and I am beyond thrilled to take on a leadership role in advancing theatre in my beloved Virginia through this work with VTA.”

As creative director at the historic Paramount Theater in Charlottesville, Payne Millner designed and executed development events as well as programs and community initiatives. 

In New York City, she was a senior vice president in the Lincoln Center office of Douglas Elliman, one of the two largest real estate firms in the city. With her business partner Jeff Dyksterhouse, she led a team of seven real estate agents, all of whom had worked in entertainment and the arts in New York.  Additionally, she served from 2006-2010 as warden of St. Michael’s Episcopal Church on the upper west side, with its 87-acre, historic cemetery in Astoria, Queens. She chaired St. Michael’s buildings committee, and served for seven years as president of her Washington Heights co-op.

She has also worked in artist management, nonprofit administration, and corporate and government sectors.

As a New York-based performer and producer, she worked at the Kennedy Center in the long-running Shear Madness and in numerous regional theatre productions, including TheatreVirginia, MetroStage, and The American Century Theatre. She was an investor in Broadway’s In the Heights, the Tony Award-winning musical which featured the Washington Heights neighborhood. Her performance in Keith Thompson’s Kooky Tunes (Off-Broadway) led InTheatre Magazine and Show Business Weekly to name her one of the “Top 10 Funniest Performers” in New York cabaret. Payne Millner also appeared as Sylvia Fine — Danny Kaye’s power diva wife — in Danny and Sylvia: A Musical Love Story (Off-Broadway). Her holiday novelty single, “Santa Claus Won't Get Lit Up (At the Trailer Park Gate This Year),” was featured in Billboard Magazine as a Top 10 Holiday Song for a number of years. 

She recently moved from Manhattan, to Charlottesville, Va., where she lives with her husband, Victor Millner and his two daughters. A graduate of E.C. Glass High School, Payne Millner will move with her family to Lynchburg in June.