2018: Virginia Cretella Mars
For nine years, Virginia Cretella Mars sat in Foxcroft Board meetings, quietly doing her needlepoint with her dog, Dolce, on her lap—and never missing a beat. A mother, grandmother, trustee, philanthropist, and loyal Fox, she and Foxcroft met in the spring of 1970 as her family was preparing to move back to the United States from France, and Ginnie, as she is known, was looking for schools for her daughters. Having only attended Dutch and French schools, Ginnie's eldest daughter, Victoria, spoke limited English—something not all Washington-area schools were prepared to support. Enter Foxcroft. Now our relationship with Ginnie and her family has spanned more than 45 years, through the graduation of daughters Victoria, in 1974, and Pamela, in 1978; niece Christa, in 1992; and granddaughters Bernadette and Charlotte, in 2003 and 2012, respectively.
An active parent for many years, Ginnie stepped up her work with Foxcroft in the late 1990s, when she served on the Advisory Board of the $30 million Gateways to Excellence Campaign, at the time the largest endowment campaign ever undertaken by an independent girls’ school. A graduate of Vassar College as well as mother of Foxcroft graduates, Ginnie understood and appreciated the value of an all-girls’ education. Having served on Vassar’s Board for 12 years and as Chair of the Campaign for Vassar in the mid-90s, her knowledge of fundraising was invaluable. The Gateways to Excellence Campaign proved to be Foxcroft's first successfully completed capital endeavor and provided the financial foundation for the future of the School. During this fundraising effort, her family honored Ginnie by creating the Virginia Cretella Mars Scholarship for Literary, Visual, and Performing Arts, a merit award that is focused specifically on attracting girls who excel in these areas.
Ginnie served on Foxcroft’s Board of Trustees from 2003 to 2012. As co-chair of the Advancement Committee, she was instrumental in the planning and building of Stuart Hall and the implementation of our geothermal wells. Fueled by her passion for the environment, Ginnie always asked the challenging questions that ensured we were environmentally responsible in all we did on our campus. As plans began to take shape for our Centennial Celebration, the launch of our Centennial Campaign, and the retirement of a long-standing Head of School, Ginnie thoughtfully and purposefully worked to make this time of change a positive one, leading by example in word and in deed.
An avid philanthropist and environmentalist, Ginnie supports the arts and conservation—and education—through the Virginia Cretella Mars Foundation which she created in 1994. Organizations such as the National Cathedral and the Forest Society have recognized her work and honored her with the Laura E. Phillips Angel of the Arts Award in 2005 and the 2017 Conservationist of the Year, respectively, the latter for her help in protecting over 28,000 acres of “the highest conservation value lands” in the western part of New Hampshire. In addition to these organizations, she is involved with the National Symphony Orchestra, the Smithsonian, The Kennedy Center and of course her beloved Vassar who gave her the Service to Vassar Award in 2005. Today, Foxcroft joins these groups in honoring Ginnie.
From the students we support each year in her name to the geothermal wells that heat and cool our buildings to the outstanding faculty she has supported, Foxcroft is forever changed by Ginnie’s leadership and outstanding service to the School. It is with great pleasure that the Board of Trustees and Head of School Cathy McGehee, honor Virginia Cretella Mars by presenting Foxcroft’s highest award, the Anne Kane McGuire Distinguished Service Award.