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Help Somebody Spotlight: Beth Ayn Stansfield, Founder, Stay Strong Virginia

The Help Somebody Hall of Fame celebrates and recognizes good people doing good work in RVA.  We encourage our readers to nominate nonprofit staff, volunteers, board members and community members who are making a positive difference.

In December, we are recognizing Beth Ayn Stansfield, who is the founder of Stay Strong Virginia – a nonprofit whose mission is to expand and enhance the existing services to those impacted by an eating disorder in the State of Virginia by raising awareness, education and providing direct support with respect and empathy.

Joanne Paek, a volunteer with Stay Strong Virginia, nominated Beth Ayn, saying, “I first met Beth Ayn after my daughter, who was 14 at the time, had been diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa.  I had been staying in Durham, NC for four months with my daughter while she was receiving treatment for her eating disorder and I had heard about Beth Ayn’s organization.  My husband and I started going to her support group and every month we would learn more and more about eating disorders and how to support our daughter, and ourselves, through such a grueling, difficult illness.  Beth Ayn has always, and remains to be, such a calm guiding force to me and always makes herself available to answer questions, share insight or simply listen.  Her guidance when my daughter needed to go back to residential treatment for a second time was invaluable.  She breathes positivity and hope wherever she goes, two things that amongst the chaos eating disorders bring to families is often hard to find.”

Read more about Beth Ayn below:

How does Beth Ayn demonstrate the spirit of the “Help Somebody Hall of Fame”?

Beth Ayn Stansfield is tenacious and energetic; her positivity and zest for life is remarkable. Yet her passion and determination to help and support others is what sets her apart from the crowd. Several years ago, Beth Ayn’s daughter was diagnosed with an eating disorder. While desperately seeking help for her daughter, Beth Ayn found a distinct lack of resources and treatment options in the Richmond area. After spending several months with her daughter at a treatment centre in Denver, Colorado and enduring the difficult, lonely and painful journey of being the parent of a child with an eating disorder, she felt compelled to help others who found themselves in a similar position and founded the non-profit, Stay Strong Virginia, whose mission is to raise awareness, educate and support those either living with, or supporting those suffering from, eating disorders.

Beth Ayn is a true beacon of hope for family members embarking on the journey of having a loved one diagnosed with an eating disorder, a constant pillar of strength and support for family members who are in the midst of finding appropriate treatment options for their loved one, and a dedicated source of encouragement for those with family members in recovery.

What is the impact of Beth Ayn’s generosity?

What started out as an initial support group for a handful of families has since grown over the past 6 years into a successful and invaluable organization. In addition to offering bi-monthly family support groups, community outreach events and education sessions, Beth Ayn has worked tirelessly to recently implement The Body Positive program into local schools. This after school program examines body image and eating disorders in a collaborative and supportive environment and has been strongly associated with greater emotional well-being and lower levels of anxiety for students who participate.

Beth Ayn is committed, and dedicated, to securing grants and other fundraising initiatives in order to expand the program to even more schools in the Greater Richmond area. Beth Ayn travels to, and works with, residential treatment centers and clinicians across the country to stay abreast of the latest evidence-based research, treatment options and interventions available for treating eating disorders. She strives to bring national and international eating disorder specialists to Richmond in order to further educate families, counseling professionals, school teachers, school counselors and nursing professionals about these deadly disorders.

Beth Ayn’s enthusiasm and dedication is contagious. It is difficult to be in her presence and not got enthused about her work and her vision for the future of Stay Strong Virginia. It is hard to quantify the impact Beth Ayn has on the local community but to those who have the privilege of knowing her and being the recipients of her knowledge and wisdom about eating disorder treatment, her expertise and support is invaluable.

Her energy astounds me, whether she is running support groups, arranging for national speakers to come to Richmond to offer further education on eating disorders, visiting treatment centers or floating down the James River in an effort to raise awareness and fundraise for Stay Strong Virginia, everything she does is for the benefit of families who are impacted by eating disorders.  She really is a truly remarkable, selfless, giving woman and an inspiration to all who know her.

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Check Out the Nonprofit Directory on ConnectVA!

You may have noticed some new and exciting changes in the profiles of local nonprofits on ConnectVA!  This fall, we’ve been working diligently to combine the best of two well-known and well-utilized resources – ConnectVA and GiveRichmond – into one location with the ConnectVA Nonprofit Directory!

The Nonprofit Directory allows organizations to provide a high-level overview of their organization, or they can go one step further to showcase detailed financial data, organizational leadership and key programs with an enhanced profile.

Visitors to the site can access other popular features of ConnectVA including current job postings, upcoming events and listings for items needed or available. This change is part of the Community Foundation’s ongoing effort to create efficiencies, promote transparency and build connections that help advance the important work of the region’s nonprofit sector.


New Profiles

When you search the Nonprofit Directory, you will find both standard and enhanced profiles from local organizations, including nonprofits and government entities across the state.  A standard profile includes an overview of the organization, including a general description, contact information, mission, classification, location and key programs.  You can also see if an organization has posted jobs, events, items needed or available, and more.

An enhanced profile is like a GiveRichmond portrait and includes more detailed information in categories such as Leadership, Financials and Programs. The organization can also include pictures and videos associated with their mission. As with the standard profile, organizations with enhanced profiles may also post jobs, events, items needed or available and announcements by the organization, which is viewable in the profile.

All organizations who had live GiveRichmond portraits, had their data transferred and automatically have an enhanced profile on ConnectVA.  Eligibility requirements for an enhanced profile are 1) the organization must be a 501(c)(3) that is required to file a Form 990 by the IRS and 2) located in or provide significant support to, the Community Foundation for a Greater Richmond’s service area. This includes our affiliate service area covering specific counties in the Middle Peninsula and Northern Neck.

Here are some highlights from the new enhanced profiles:

Overview Tab

Organizations with an enhanced profile have the option of displaying a “donate” button, which takes someone to their online giving platform and a “volunteer” button which takes someone to their HandsOn Greater Richmond page, where they can sign up for volunteer opportunities!  They can also add pictures to their profile.

Watch videos about an organization directly from their profile in the Overview tab.

You can also view a snapshot of the organization’s “History and Background”, “Leadership” and “Programs” in the Overview tab.

Financial Tab

In the Financials Tab you can view an organization’s Current Fiscal Year Projected Revenue and Expenses, as well as “Financial Summary” charts.

In the Financials Tab you can also view/download recent financial documents, like Form 990(s), Audit Documents, IRS Tax Exemption Documents and Solicitation Permits.  You can also view a chart of detailed financials for the past several years.

 Leadership Tab

In the Leadership tab you can view the organization’s Leadership Team, including Executive Director, board Chair, Board Treasurer and Board Members.  Below that you can view a pie chart of Board Demographics for ethnicity and gender.

Going down further in the Leadership tab you can view staff and volunteer information for the organization, as well as descriptions of the organization’s collaborations and awards and recognitions.

Programs Tab

On this tab, you can view the main programs for the organization.  If you click into the tab you can see further details of the address, population served, classification, and success stories.  These programs can be found in our “Program Directory”, where you can search for programs in the area based on relevant categories.

Other Tabs – Jobs, Events, Items etc.

As with standard profiles, you can view the organization’s most recently posted jobs, events and items needed or available here!

We hope you find the Nonprofit Directory useful and thank you for your patience as nonprofits update their profiles.


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The Community Foundation Moved to Scott’s Addition!

As of this past week, the Community Foundation for a greater Richmond has a new home in Scott’s Addition – 3409 Moore Street!  For those familiar with the area, we’re located behind Tazza Kitchen and across the street from Tang & Biscuit.

In March, the Foundation announced a move of its headquarters after an over twenty-year tenancy at the Boulders Office Park in North Chesterfield.

“We are excited for this next step in the Foundation’s history,” said Sherrie Armstrong, President and CEO of the Community Foundation. “A move to Scott’s Addition gives us greater proximity to many of our nonprofit partners, and it places us in the center of the innovation and transformation that is happening in the City and across our region. That is what community philanthropy is all about.”

Martha hard at work answering the phone on our first day in the new office.

The move coincides with the Foundation’s 50th anniversary, marking decades of bringing people and organizations together to create lasting change in all areas of community life – from education and housing to health care and workforce development. A natural connector and convener, the Foundation will make its office accessible and open to nonprofits and community members. “We envision a space that will encourage shared learning, discussion and collaboration and spark new, innovative solutions for our region,” said Armstrong.

Staff enjoying Gelati Celesti ice cream in the Break Room.

Thank you for your patience as we make this exciting adjustment into our new space!

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ConnectVA Spotlight: Cory Richardson-Lauve, Virginia Home for Boys and Girls

Tell us about yourself.

Hi! I’m Cory Richardson-Lauve, and I’ve worked at the Virginia Home for Boys and Girls for fifteen years. Currently, I serve as the Vice President of Programs. Over the years I’ve been responsible for training, program evaluation, and human resources. Prior to that I worked as a case manager, staff supervisor, and in a direct care role with our youth in VHBG’s group homes.

I also have experience as a classroom teacher. I graduated from the University of Virginia in 1996 with an undergraduate degree in English and master’s in Teaching.


What is the focus of your work?

As a nonprofit that’s been helping children in crisis since 1846, we’ve evolved to meet the ever-changing needs of our community.

When a child’s welfare or academic success is at risk, we partner with localities, parents/guardians, and funding sources to do what’s best or what’s next for each child who’s experiencing emotional and behavioral challenges.  We help kids with emotional and behavioral needs experience the fun and learning of childhood and take steps toward adulthood as they grow. Through relationships, play, support, and teaching we aim to restore hope and ensure children and their families thrive.

We work with DSS, DOE, and DBHDS to make sure that we’re providing care, prevention, and reunification services through our group homes, independent living apartments, John G. Wood specialized k-12 school, and therapeutic resource center.

How do volunteers make a difference to your organization?

Skill-based volunteering and in-kind donations play a critical role at VHBG. Recently, through the Lowe’s Heroes project, 14 stores within the Richmond area teamed up to renovate not only our group home kitchens – but the greater campus – in an effort to improve the lives of the youth we serve.  This took place over the course of three days in July and included approximately 60 Lowe’s Heroes who worked tirelessly each day. The following video celebrates their work and our beautiful campus.

How is your organization different?

All of our services are scaled at a size that allows for relationships and community. Our program directors know each of the clients served by their programs by name. Our campus setting, and therapeutic class size allow for youth to get the one-on-one attention they need—from lots of diverse, caring adults.

We’re also one of the very few campus group home environments in Virginia to remain licensed as a social services provider (licensed by DSS) not a mental health facility (licensed by DBHDS). We have retained this DSS license, so we can provide a place for children who need a home and not a treatment facility…a place where they can play, interact with the community, learn about life, and heal from their trauma in the least-structured, most natural environment possible for their needs.

Many young people benefit from our unique niche, including: children stepping down from long-term clinical treatment facilities, youth who have been in conventional foster care homes and have not yet been successful, youth who need to be placed out of their home while parents are getting the support they need, children who can’t be successful in public school, and children aging out of foster care.

From the moment a child comes to us we’re working to give them hope for a safe, permanent home or a return to their public school.

But in the meantime, we create a home-like environment where our evidence-based, trauma-informed care starts youth on their path to healing and gives them the courage to thrive.

What do you find most rewarding about your work?

Witnessing growth…growth of individual children and their families, our staff members, our teams, our systems, and our organization.

Our core value of excellence keeps us striving to be the best at what we do in small and big ways. It is a delight to be a part of a mission-driven team united in their desire to have a positive impact on young people and their families.



What’s coming next for your organization that really excites you?

I am excited about legislation regarding the Families First Prevention Services Act efforts and how that will help shape the landscape of services for youth and families in Virginia.

VHBG is collaborating with state and local entities to ensure Virginia complies with the legislation and expands its systems to serve kids in new ways. It is a unique time to be the leader of any organization touching the lives of vulnerable children and their families. We are serving on every work group and focusing on advising decision makers from all three branches of State government on topics such as foster care placements, prevention services, evidence-based practices, and finance.



How are you leveraging ConnectVA to achieve your mission?

ConnectVA keeps us connected. From the job finder, to the event calendar, to blogs and news, we really appreciate the centralized point of contact within the nonprofit community.


Anything else you would like to share?

I want to say a few words about VHBG’s chosen model of care—the Teaching Family Model. The Teaching Family Model is an evidence-based, trauma-informed, cognitive-behavioral approach to caring for complex individuals in complex environments.

I was introduced to the practices of the Teaching Family Model more than 20 years ago, when I was a classroom teacher in Baltimore. The techniques and concepts transformed my ability to relate to kids in ways that aligned with my values, and they also helped me manage all the complex dynamics inherent in a classroom setting. Later, the Teaching Family Model provided a framework for my husband and me as we pursued a mission to serve young people in a group home environment, which we did for seven years (first at Boys Town in Omaha, Nebraska, and then here at the Virginia Home for Boys and Girls).

The Teaching Family Model brings to life the two elements most crucial to our kids (and all people, really): relationships and structure. Relationships: we believe that all healing starts with relationships, and our model gives us concrete strategies for building relationships with our kids—and avoiding damage to relationships when addressing behavioral concerns. Structure: we also believe that people can grow through learning—and learning takes structure and expectations. So, the Teaching Family Model helps us build a structure of support around our kids that guides their learning, allows them to give input, and ensures they are treated as individuals even during a “program.”

Further, a similar structure of relationships and expectations is provided to our direct care staff through our framework. The Model’s strategic staff development and support helps our direct care staff stay engaged and effective in a potentially high-burnout environment.

A decade after leaving a direct care role, implementing this model in our group homes gives me peace of mind as a Vice President and administrator. I know that, through the Teaching Family Model, we have three key elements: shared, trauma-informed practices for interacting with our youth, ways to monitor those interactions to ensure individual staff haven’t drifted from fidelity to them, and a system to monitor our agency’s processes in an objective way through the accreditation process.

The Teaching Family Model is an evidence-based practice which has been shown through research—and my professional experience—to be highly effective and sustainable. Please contact me if you’d like to learn more!

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Event Recap: YNPN RVA’s Great Nonprofit Awards

On Wednesday evening, November 7th, nonprofit professionals and guests from around greater Richmond gathered at the Hippodrome Theater to recognize and celebrate people and organizations who are doing great work in our local sector at YNPN RVA’s Great Nonprofit Awards.

credit: Kim Lee Photography

Erica Babcock, oncoming Board Chair for YNPN RVA welcomed guests and shared some new and exciting updates for 2019 programming:

  • We’re reinventing our career advancement Nonprofits@Noon series into monthly professional development mini-workshops with an added networking activity at the start of each event. BONUS: All N@Ns will be hosted at the Community Foundation’s new space in Scott’s Addition! Can’t make it during the day? We’ll also be hosting several Nonprofits@Night!
  • For our Nonprofit Happy Hours, we’ll get to know each other and the city with get-togethers in different neighborhoods around RVA.
  • Early riser? Join our members-only Nonprofit Articles Club! It’s our version of book club where we’ll share, read and have engaging conversations on interesting topics relevant to our lives and careers at different coffee shops around the city.

Stay tuned to YNPN RVA’s page for program updates and learn how you can become a YNPN RVA member!

Erica Babcock, oncoming YNPN Board Chair opens up the awards. credit: Kim Lee Photography

Before the announcement of the Great Nonprofit Boss winners, Erica asked the audience to discuss, what do you value in a great boss?

The finalists were then each recognized for why they were chosen as a great boss:

Linda Whitaker, VP of Administration and Human Resources for ChildSavers – Linda is a great boss for young professionals because she cares about her staff’s personal and professional successes. She keeps her ear to the ground, finding opportunities for them to expand their skills and gain new experiences, and pushes them to attend training and networking events.

Erica Mann, Regional Director of Community Based Services at UMFS – Erica is a great boss for young professionals because she leads by example. She’s out in the field serving clients right beside her employees, while also coaching and empowering them to be confident, capable young professionals.

Nadine Marsh-Carter, CEO, Children’s Home Society of Virginia – Nadine is a great boss for young professionals because she celebrates her staff. She regularly recognizes their accomplishments and successes with her monthly “kudos” awards and end of year celebration.

And the winner was:  Erica Mann!

Erica shared how a personal family tragedy inspired her to go into the nonprofit field and how her staff motivate her every day.  The audience was then asked, what challenges have you overcome and learned from in your career?

credit: Kim Lee Photography

Next the finalists for the Rising Star were recognized.

They were Jackie Washington, Center Director for 6 Points Innovation Center with Storefront for Community Design – Jackie is a rising star because she’s devoted to her organization and the teens they serve. She joined the organization as an intern during undergraduate school and stayed on through her graduate studies making a lasting impact even when working part-time.

Erica Babcock, Marketing and Communications Officer at Better Housing Coalition – Erica is a rising star because her innovation and creativity knows no bounds. Her dynamic, multimedia marketing campaign helped Better Housing Coalition exceed its fundraising and digital engagement goals for its inaugural “non-event gala” this year.

Matt Morgan, Deputy Director of Neighborhood Revitalization for project:HOMES – Matt is a rising star because he takes initiative in times of need. He took it upon himself to create an emergency cooling initiative two years ago, in response to a lack of funding for air conditioning for local people in need.

Audrey Trussell, Director of City and Schools Partnership with United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg – Audrey is a rising star because she’s an innovator. She is leading a coalition to implement a school-based health center in Petersburg City Public Schools, one of this first of its kind in Virginia.

And the winner was:  Audrey Trussell!

Audrey thanked her colleagues, family and encouraged the audience and nonprofits around the room to continue a spirit of collaboration.  The audience was prompted to discuss If you had an unlimited budget, what innovative program, project, or initiative would you do at your organization?

credit: Kim Lee Photography

Lastly, the finalists for Outstanding Organization were recognized:

Blue Sky Fund, a nonprofit that provides transformational experiences for urban youth through outdoor education. Blue Sky Fund is a great organization for young professionals because it pays for professional development. Each employee gets an annual stipend to attend classes, workshops and conferences.

Children’s Home Society of Virginia, a nonprofit working to find permanent adoptive homes for children throughout the state and provide critical support services to their families. CHS is a great organization for young professionals because they believe every employee’s input is important. They are always asking for feedback and innovative ideas from staff at all levels to help drive the organization’s mission.

Lynnhaven Academy, an independent school for grades 7-12 working to help students discover their strengths and unlock their potential. Lynnhaven Academy is a great organization for young professionals because they are intentionally diverse. They recruit employees in Virginia and beyond, connecting with Black Colleges and international employee agencies. The members of their board also reflect this intentional diversity.

And the winner was:  Blue Sky Fund!

David Kunnen, Executive Director for Blue Sky Fund, along with five other staff members accepted the award.  David shared with the audience, that at the age of 37, he is the oldest staff member at Blue Sky Fund!  When he joined the organization in 2016, he knew how important it was to cultivate his younger staff as the organization was going through a time of transition and growth.

credit: Kim Lee Photography

The evening of celebration ended with time for networking, drinks and food.  A huge congratulations to all of the nominees, finalists and winners!

All of the Great Nonprofit Awards finalists! credit: Kim Lee Photography

A special thank you goes to the Community Foundation, The Spark Mill, Kim Lee Photography, and the YNPN RVA Leadership team for helping to make this event possible!

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ConnectVA Spotlight: Gail Crawford, Making a Difference for You (MAD4YU)

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Gail Crawford and I’m the President and Founder of Making a Difference for You (MAD4YU) Community Enrichment Resource Center.   I have been with Bank of America for 46 years and I have a background in Information Technology.  I have always had a desire to give back to the community and have volunteered throughout my years at Bank of America.  This desire to give back inspired the creation of MAD4YU.

What is the focus of your work?        

When MAD4YU was founded, its primary services were teaching computer literacy to children and seniors, and tutoring for students having difficulty learning.  It acquired a multi-room facility with donated computers, in-kind contributions and volunteers.   It evolved by responding to other client needs that surfaced.

Services currently provided, but are not limited to: free tutoring, homework help, communication technologies, PC training, college and job readiness preparation including resume writing and online submission, personal and professional development, adult literacy, health and housing resources and social advocacy.

MAD4YU’s service users include non-mainstream Richmond Virginians who are struggling with job readiness, faltering grades, and aging – with limited access to tools needed to live fulfilling and productive lives.  These citizens come from diverse backgrounds:  elderly, youth, homeless, Veterans, immigrants, single-parent family, economically disadvantaged, learners who process differently etc.



What do you find most rewarding about your work?

No narrative can capture the essence of volunteers tutoring eager Greater Richmond students, many who were on the verge of failing and/or who learn differently.  Hearing the testimonies of the parents, children, seniors and volunteers is very rewarding.  Student’s grades are improving, parents are pleased, seniors are experiencing a rewarding learning curve as they attend our basic computer, internet and email classes and volunteers look forward to truly making a difference in the lives of others.


What are some major challenges you have faced and how you handled them?

Funding and space are our major challenges.  Currently, we receive no outside funding. In 2017 alone, the organization provided in excess of $150,000.00 in tutoring services to over 45 clients on a weekly basis, with an annual budget of under $50,000.00. This is based on more than 6,000 hours at an average rate of $30.00 per hour (many tutors charge upwards of $40-60 per hour) for tutoring/training services.

MAD4YU is currently housed in the MAD4YU Community Enrichment Resource Center.  Our 55 volunteer instructors operate out of a 979 sq. ft. office space to teach 45 students on a weekly basis. Students cram into strategically decorated and organized classrooms, which are equipped with donated computers, equipment and supplies. Refreshments are available when volunteers and students take their breaks. Word has circulated in nearby Richmond/Henrico County schools, which are now referring their students who also need homework assistance.


Do you have any interesting initiatives or programs on the horizon?

We are a very diverse organization, some of our families speak Spanish, Arabic and other foreign languages.  During the tutoring sessions for the children, the parents attend one on one ESL sessions.  We have also developed resources for the parents, youth and adult volunteers based on their needs that include sites for mentorship information, business groups, books for graduates, sites for graduates, staffing agencies, career coaching, scholarships, intern programs, resources for teens, resources for medical students, resources for college and high school students and resources for parents and single moms.  It’s our way of giving back to the volunteers because without them we could not have made the impact we have made thus far on the community.

Is your organization involved in any exciting collaborations or partnerships?

MAD4YU has received in-kind services and/or partnered with organizations such as: Hands on Greater Richmond, Ezyetts Youth and Family Services, AmeriCorps/The Literacy Project, Bridge to Well Being, AARP SCSep program, Anthem CareMore, Aetna Better Health, United Health, Unique Dreams, and the Federal Reserve Bank to name a few. It is important – now more than ever – that the organization strategically assesses and get a handle on its diverse activities to address its effectiveness and sustainability.


How are you leveraging ConnectVA to achieve your mission?

Hands on Greater Richmond has proven to be very resourceful, all our volunteers register and express interest via their platform.  We utilize ConnectVA for posting needs and resources and our goal is to utilize the platform more in 2019…..the partnership with ConnectVA and the Community Foundation has proven to be very rewarding and we look forward to a lasting relationship.

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Funders Offering Local Training in Response to Medicaid Expansion

Virginia Health Care Foundation and local funders have teamed up to bring free workshops to ensure community-based providers can help people navigate enrollment in Medicaid now that the income guidelines have been expanded to include more people.  It is estimated that up to 400,000 uninsured adult Virginians will be newly eligible for Medicaid health coverage on January 1, 2019.

These trainings will be particularly relevant to:

  • Adult and family-oriented social service organizations, housing assistance organizations, churches, community action agencies, and home-visiting programs.
  • Community colleges, public housing communities, job training programs, tax assistance programs, and cooperative extension offices.
  • Health departments, hospitals, free clinics and community health centers.
  • Certain employers should also be considered:  child care providers, local employers with minimum wage employees, and organizations which employ Community Health Workers.

The “SignUpNow” trainings will teach the “ins and outs” of the eligibility requirements, application procedures, and post-enrollment information for Virginia’s Medicaid and FAMIS programs:

  • New adult coverage
  • Programs for children and pregnant women
  • Plan First (family planning)
  • Low Income Families and Children (LIFC) program

SignUpNow participants will be able to provide hands-on assistance to individuals and families who want to apply for Medicaid or FAMIS.

The trainings are being offered across the state and filling up quickly!  Locally, there are workshops being offered in greater Richmond on:

  • November 10 – a Saturday
  • November 16
  • November 20
  • December 3
  • December 18

More workshops are being added, so check the training website for updates and registration!

Thank you to Virginia Health Care Foundation and the following funders who made these workshops possible:

  • Anonymous donor advised fund at the Community Foundation
  • Bob and Anna Lou Schaberg Fund
  • Bon Secours
  • Community Foundation
  • Jenkins Foundation
  • Richmond Memorial Health Foundation
  • Robins Foundation
  • VCU Health

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Great Nonprofit Awards Spotlight Part 2

Get to know a few of the finalists for YNPN RVA’s Great Nonprofit Awards, coming up on 11.7.18!  People and organizations will be recognized in 3 categories:

  • Rising Star: A nonprofit professional with fewer than five years of career experience making significant contributions to the RVA nonprofit sector.
  • Great Nonprofit Boss: A nonprofit manager who has gone above and beyond to promote a great work environment for their staff.
  • Outstanding Organization: A great nonprofit organization that fosters a nurturing and empowering environment for young nonprofit professionals.

The many nominations were scored by a panel of young nonprofit professionals from the YNPN RVA Leadership Team.  The winner in each category will be announced at the November 7thevent.

Find tickets here http://bit.ly/YNPNGNAs


Linda Whitaker, Vice President of Administration and Human Resources, ChildSavers, Finalist in the GREAT NONPROFIT BOSS category

What keeps you in the nonprofit sector? I have worked for non-profit organizations most of my career.  I started out in Hospital Administration at Community Hospital of Roanoke Valley.  I worked for several years for a large corporation and during that time I realized how much I missed working for a non-profit.   I am very relational and enjoy helping people.  I am also very passionate about working for an organization with a mission to serve others.

“ChildSavers guides our community’s children through life’s critical moments with trauma informed mental health and child development services. That mission statement is the core of all we do.   As the Vice President of Administration and Human Resources my consumers are the employees.  Our employees are very mission driven and the work they do is difficult.   In today’s world, many children experience trauma and without the appropriate care and therapy these children can’t move beyond the trauma.  We provide trauma informed care because we want to give children the opportunity to succeed in school and in life.

I don’t work one on one with the children and their families; however, I do have the opportunity to work closely with each employee.   My goal is to ensure our employees have great benefits and compensation, but also the opportunity to achieve their career and life goals. When employees feel cared for and empowered to succeed, they are more effective in reaching the hurting children and helping them recover from the trauma they have endured. I am thankful for the role I play in fulfilling the mission of ChildSavers, and I believe we are making a difference in the lives our agency touches.

What advice would I give to other nonprofit supervisors? I would tell supervisors in the nonprofit arena to never stop growing and learning.  Always treat your employees with respect, honesty, dignity and patience.  Always be a team player and never ask an employee to do something you wouldn’t do.  Give your employees every opportunity to advance in their career and provide the support and leadership they need to fulfill their dreams. Remember, a rising tide lifts all boats.

Always be mindful that your words and actions have a huge impact on people.   In times where discipline may be necessary, always remember to focus on the strengths of the individual and give them the necessary tools to grow and make better decisions. Redirecting employees toward more positive outcomes can strengthen community and raise productivity far more than reprimand.  I love this quote by Theodore Roosevelt… “Remember nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.”

What was a pivotal moment in your career? My husband and I moved to Richmond in September 2002.   I enrolled in the School of Professional Studies at University of Richmond and started my first class immediately.   I attended classes four nights a week for several years while working a full time job.  I graduated in May, 2007 summa cum laude and was promoted as the Vice President of Administration and Human Resources at ChildSavers in 2011.  I have continued to grow and advance my human resource knowledge and expertise.  My responsibilities have changed tremendously during the last several years.  I love working at ChildSavers and will be forever grateful for the opportunities afforded me.

Erica Babcock, Marketing & Communications Officer, Better Housing Coalition, Finalist in the RISING STAR category

What do you love about the RVA nonprofit community? The energy and the passion that I see in the people I’ve met, and the willingness to share knowledge and support one another.

What motivates you? My son. I think about his future and what his world will be like, and that motivates me to do everything I can to fight for what’s right and promote social good.

Looking back, what was a great career decision you made? Working for Better Housing Coalition! I work with an incredible team who has believed in me and supported my professional growth from day one.


Jackie Washington, Community Engagement Liaison and Center Director of the Six Points Innovation Center (6PIC), Storefront For Community Design, Finalist in the RISING STAR category

What do you love about the RVA nonprofit community? I love the fact that I can truly be myself and there is a familial atmosphere between partners that I work closely with.

What motivates you? Richmond’s history, youth and their families are the reason that I go to work every day and try my best to hold space for their voice and values. I truly believe there is no distinction between the destiny of the families that I work with and myself in that everyone deserves and has the ability to thrive.

Looking back, what was a great career decision you made? Interning at Storefront For Community Design was hands down the best career decision I’ve made. I’m glad they chose to hire me! It’s such a great nonprofit to work for because I have the ability to dream, create and meet so many amazing people.


Nadine Marsh-Carter, CEO, Children’s Home Society of Virginia, Finalist in the GREAT NONPROFIT BOSS and Outstanding Organization category

What are you doing to create a great work environment for young professionals?  I am a firm believer that strong nonprofits are a cornerstone of a thriving community. So, an investment in our young professionals is really an investment in Richmond’s future.   Therefore, I work to have a great work environment for young professionals by creating opportunities for our organization’s more experienced leadership to work with less experienced managers so that we may address opportunities – and challenges- together.  I have found that when we exchange our ideas, insight and experiences, we come up with the most strategic solutions and we learn from one another. I also seek out and support ways for young professionals to participate in professional development opportunities whenever possible.

What are trends or shifts that you see in the local sector? A trend in Richmond nonprofits is the great embrace of the importance – and effectiveness – of collaborations.  This has been a critical trend that is strengthening and expanding the service capacity of organizations in every nonprofit sector – from human services to the arts. The embrace of working together to solve problems and implement more creative solutions is resulting in a new level of strategic energy in our community.  I believe that this also means that the energy and creative thinking that young professionals “bring to the table” is even more critical and valuable than ever before!

What’s your leadership style? I would describe my leadership style as supportive, open and empowering. It’s important to lead with a demonstrated confidence in the ability of my co-workers.  So   I encourage the members of my team to work independently while I serve as resource who is available whenever needed. My leadership philosophy is that we are all valued members of a team. I genuinely appreciate the perspectives that every member of our team brings to the table.  I would never ask a member of my team to tackle a task that I am not fully prepared to handle myself.  I lead by demonstrating a high work ethic, by providing guidance, and by being willing to admit when I make a mistake, because we can all learn from shared experiences. Finally, I believe in the energy that comes from loving- and when appropriate- having fun at work.   So, my leadership style includes creating a space where we can laugh together in the workplace… there are few ways to better strengthen a team’s spirit!

Blue Sky Fund, David Kunnen, Executive Director, Finalist in the Outstanding Organization category

What is the focus of your work?  Blue Sky Fund is on a mission to provide transformational opportunities for urban youth through outdoor education. Our three core programs – Explorers, Outdoor Adventure Clubs, and Outdoor Leadership Institute – provide opportunities to improve access for children in Richmond Public Schools to engaging, experiential education and enrichment opportunities that take advantage of all of the amazing outdoor assets we have in our region. If we can help increase students’ academic achievement and help develop their resilience, we are making progress towards our goals. Our region wins awards and has magazine articles written that encourage people from across the world to come here to live, work, and play, yet there are large numbers of our neighbors who don’t traditionally take advantage of all parts of our city. That’s not equitable, and we want to help change that. Only two of the elementary schools we work in are currently fully accredited by the Virginia Department of Education, and we want to do our part to help RPS meet their 2023 accreditation and strategic plan goals.

What would someone be surprised to know about your organization?  We serve over 2,200 children each year. We are still a relatively young organization compared to some of our peers, and our reach often surprises people. Although we have ‘Fund’ in our name, we are not wealth managers or angel investors.

See the first Finalist Spotlight.  Click here to see a full list of all finalist and nominees and make sure to get your ticket to the event coming up on 11.7.18!

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Great Nonprofit Awards Spotlight Part 1

Get to know a few of the finalists for YNPN RVA’s Great Nonprofit Awards, coming up on 11.7.18!  People and organizations will be recognized in 3 categories:

  • Rising Star: A nonprofit professional with fewer than five years of career experience making significant contributions to the RVA nonprofit sector.
  • Great Nonprofit Boss: A nonprofit manager who has gone above and beyond to promote a great work environment for their staff.
  • Outstanding Organization: A great nonprofit organization that fosters a nurturing and empowering environment for young nonprofit professionals.

The many nominations were scored by a panel of young nonprofit professionals from the YNPN RVA Leadership Team.  The winner in each category will be announced at the November 7th event. (find tickets here http://bit.ly/YNPNGNAs).

Audrey Trussell, Director of City and Schools Partnership, United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg, Finalist in the RISING STAR category

What do you love about the RVA nonprofit community?  The spunk! The RVA nonprofit community is passionate. It’s energetic. We’re daring and innovative, and we aren’t afraid of the challenges we face.

What motivates you?  The potential of what we can achieve when we believe in the power of “yet.” Every person can succeed if we work together to transform our systems to provide the right climate and conditions. These changes are happening and having a big impact – I want to see that continue!

Looking back, what was a great career decision you made?  To go for it! I’ve arrived where I am because I was brave enough to put myself out there, commit to learning for life, and take on opportunities that would challenge me…. and also because the people that surround me – my friends, family and colleagues – push me to keep growing and doing.

Erica Mann, Regional Director of Community Based Services, UMFS, Finalist in the GREAT NONPROFIT BOSS category

What keeps you in the nonprofit sector?  Honestly striving for our mission that truly impacts the community on a much broader level is something that provides endless creative challenges, while meeting a deeper spiritual need at the same time. The thing that can keep you going on some of the darker days are the brilliant, passionate, and loving people that I work with. I have spent my entire career at UMFS, and everyday my colleagues demonstrate the goodness of humanity…who doesn’t want to be surrounded by that?!

What advice would you give to other nonprofit supervisors?  Find trusted people that will disagree with you, but also love you in your strengths and flaws. Also, you can never do enough professional development around conflict and emotional intelligence—I can’t think of two topics that I deal with more as a leader and that I haven’t been more challenged by!

What was a pivotal moment in your career?  One was early on in my career, when I had a mentor suggest I move into a supervisory position—I never would have thought that possible unless someone had seen something in me and encouraged me. The other was more recently when one of our programs went through a major financial crisis that lead to job eliminations and serious morale challenges. I cannot share how much I had to grow both emotionally and business-wise, and the humility that comes with not always knowing what to do as a leader.


Matt Morgan, Deputy Director of Neighborhood Revitalization, project:HOMES, Finalist in the RISING STAR category

What do you love about the RVA nonprofit community? I love working in the affordable housing niche of the Richmond nonprofit community. In many ways it is very similar to living in Richmond – there are many people you don’t know, but once you meet someone you see them everywhere. We have fun little rivalries, but at the end of the day, we all have the same mission – to create safe, affordable housing in the Richmond region.

What motivates you?  Hard work is always easy when what you’re doing is making a difference in someone’s life. We always say at project:HOMES that at the end of every day, someone’s life is better than it was the day before. Sometimes it’s as big as a low-income individual getting the keys to their first home, other times it’s a homeowner who has slept through the night for the first time after a summer without air conditioning.

Looking back, what was a great career decision you made?  My first career step following grad school was to identify an agency that I felt passionately about, not a job title or specific position. Once I found project:HOMES, I applied for the only available position, which was working with the agency’s for-profit subsidiary. My job had nothing to do with urban planning or affordable housing, but it got my foot in the door at an agency I believed in, and I was able to take on projects and help others work on things I really cared about. Within a year, another job became available and I was able to move into a position more relevant to my background. Since then I have grown within the organization and am proud to be a part of the change that project:HOMES is making in the community.


Lynnhaven Academy, Casey Hitchcock, Head of School, Finalist in the GREAT ORGANIZATION category

What are you doing to create a great work environment for young professionals? At Lynnhaven, we strive to create a positive, caring, and compassionate environment for our students. The same can be said for our faculty and staff as well. Ease of communication with leadership, small acts of kindness, and constructive feedback make it a place where our faculty and staff can continue to grow in their career while feeling valued within the organization.

What are trends or shifts that you see in the local sector? In general, I see organizations thrive when they find their niche and focus on small, meaningful change at the local level that builds up to a larger impact. More and more nonprofits are addressing the causes of larger systemic problems.

What’s your leadership style? I am a collaborative leader that values input at all levels. I believe that recruiting and building a strong team means utilizing all members strengths and talents while providing a clear focus. It is vital that leadership is the champion of the organization and sets high expectations at all levels.


Click here to see a full list of all finalist and nominees and make sure to get your ticket to the event coming up on 11.7.18!  Stay tuned for Part 2!

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ConnectVA Spotlight: Jennifer Maddux, Director of Education, Richmond Performing Arts Alliance

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Jennifer Maddux and I am the Director of Education at Richmond Performing Arts Alliance.  I received my undergraduate degree in Music Education/Voice at Shenandoah Conservatory and my masters degree in Educational Leadership at Virginia Commonwealth University.   I spent the majority of my career serving in Henrico County Public Schools getting my start as a chorus teacher at Byrd Middle School (now Quioccasin Middle School) and then transitioning into Instructional Technology at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. Most recently, I served in school leadership as an Associate Principal at both Short Pump Middle School and L. Douglas Wilder Middle School. I also have a passion for music theatre. In 2003, I took part in CAP21- a six-week intensive music theater program through New York University. Through the years, I’ve gotten the opportunity to perform with various local theater companies and directed at both public and private middle schools.

Richmond Performing Arts Alliance (RPAA) is a 501 (c)(3) organization whose mission is to provide diverse local and world-class performing arts, transformative arts education experiences for students of all ages and inspirational venues—all to strengthen the cultural and economic vitality of the Greater Richmond region. Our venues serve as home to nearly a dozen resident companies, including Richmond Symphony, Richmond Ballet, Virginia Opera, Latin Ballet of Virginia, Quill Theatre and more. Each year our BrightLights Education Initiatives reach over 3,000 through programming in the schools and in our venues. Our venues include Altria Theater (located at Monroe Park, at the edge of the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University) and Dominion Energy Center for the Performing Arts, the latter which house the historic 1800-seat Carpenter Theatre, Libby S. Gottwald Playhouse (200 seats) and Rhythm Hall (135-200 seats). The Dominion Energy Center also houses the Genworth BrightLights Education Center (which includes an innovative Digital Arts Lab), and the administrative offices for RPAA, Richmond Symphony and Virginia Opera.

ABOVE: RPAA just announced the expansion of their flgship program, now called “Greater Richmond Wolf Trap”

What is the focus of your work?

Providing transformative arts education for students of all ages is at the heart of the mission of Richmond Performing Arts Alliance. Since 2009, the BrightLights Education Initiatives have aimed to serve educators, students and families from across the Richmond region, working to increase equity in access to the arts and arts in education.  Our programs take place in schools, community settings and in the venues of RPAA. We believe in the power of the arts to enrich, enliven and educate children and adults in transformative ways that lead to new understandings in learning and life, which inevitably improves the quality of living across our region.

What do you find most rewarding about your work?

Throughout my career as an educator, it has been my passion to find opportunities for children to engage with music, theater, and dance.  I love seeing the spark in a student’s eye when they experience pure joy through the arts. During a time where these vital programs are disappearing in schools across the nation, I am proud to be working for a non-profit that is helping to make arts-integration a vital component of the preschool curriculum. The arts shaped my childhood and directly impacted the way I learned and- ultimately- the choices I made in my career and life.  I hope that we are doing the same for the children we interact with daily.


What are some major challenges you have faced and how you handled them?

One of the greatest challenges that we find in our work with preschool students is trying to connect with the families of the students in the schools where we have residencies.  Because we are an outside ‘provider,’ we don’t have the same direct connections with the parents and community members as the school has developed. We have tried to host family nights for the preschool classes that we support, but typically have minimal attendance because of other commitments that parents have in the evening.  One way we are working to overcome this hurdle is by coordinating our family events with school events so that we can catch families while they are already attending a school function. By showing parents the work we do with their children, we are increasing our impact and- quite often- introducing the parents to a new way to bond with their child.

What would someone be surprised to know about your organization?

RPAA works intentionally to support today’s artists by cultivating diverse arts experiences, to nurture tomorrow’s artists through programming and experiences that deepen their connection to the arts, and to provide spaces for the arts to thrive by supporting Richmond’s premier historical venues.  Most of the Richmond community know about the venues that we work with (Dominion Energy Center for the Performing Arts and Altria Theater), but many are surprised to hear that we have robust educational programming.  We provide arts-integration residencies for preschool teachers in local schools, theater classes for NextUp (an after school enrichment program in Richmond Public Schools), and operate a Digital Arts Lab where we offer courses in Video Production for high school students in the Greater Richmond area.


Do you have any interesting initiatives or programs on the horizon?

Through the years, our ‘flagship’ educational program has been ELLA (Early Literacy Learning through the Arts).  We recently announced that this program will be expanding through a new partnership with Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts and will now operate as Greater Richmond Wolf Trap.  Using Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts’ proven model, we will pair active learning experiences for children with powerful, effective professional development for early childhood educators.  Educators will receive hands-on, customized coaching, working side by side with RPAA’s professional teaching artists to develop arts-based skills and discover how to actively engage preschool students in core subjects through singing, dancing, role-playing, and storytelling.  We will be taking these residencies to schools and preschool centers in Richmond Public Schools and Henrico County Public Schools.

Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts (Wolf Trap) announced in mid-October it will bring arts-based learning to preschool and kindergarten students in the greater Richmond, Virginia area, expanding its national affiliate network to 19 partners, which now includes Richmond Performing Arts Alliance (RPAA).

Is your organization involved in any exciting collaborations or partnerships?

The arts-integration residencies above are a part of a new partnership with Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts.  We recently had leadership from Wolf Trap’s national office as well as two master teaching artists spend a week with us training RPAA’s local teaching artists.  Through this week-long professional development, our teaching artists learned how to connect their art form with literacy curriculum in the preschool classroom and developed their skills in arts integration.

How are you leveraging ConnectVA and the Community Foundation to achieve your mission?

We are very fortunate to have the Community Foundation support of Greater Richmond Wolf Trap through grant funds.  In addition to supporting our Pre-K programs financially, they also recently provided us with a capacity building grant to help develop our new three-year strategic plan that will guide our work. Additionally, we have enjoyed our continued partnership with NextUp, over the years providing middle school students with instruction in subjects like theater, piano, and video production. Finally, we are always looking at ConnectVA for enrichment classes for our staff and interesting articles related to our work.

Anything else you would like to share?

If anyone is interested in learning more about our BrightLights Education Initiatives, please feel free to email me at jmaddux@rpaalliance.com . You can also read about them on our website: http://rpaalliance.com/education

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