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YNPN RVA Spotlight: Great Nonprofit Bosses 2017

This past Monday, we celebrated National Boss Appreciation Day!

In the spirit of appreciating great leadership in our local nonprofit sector, we are highlighting a few of YNPN RVA’s 2017 Great Nonprofit Bosses.  In case you missed last week’s post – here are all of the 26 Great Nonprofit Bosses chosen by young nonprofit professionals around Greater Richmond!

Read on to learn more about four nonprofit bosses who will be speaking about their professional careers, leadership and growth during the 2017 Great Nonprofit Bosses Celebration with YNPN RVA on November 1st at the Hippodrome Speakeasy!  Make sure to purchase a ticket and join us for an evening of recognition, learning and socializing with nonprofit peers and leaders!

Robert Bolling, Chief Executive Officer, ChildSavers

Robert Bolling is the CEO at ChildSavers, a 90+ year-old not-for-profit agency that provides child mental health and child development services in the greater Richmond, VA community. Prior to this position, Robert served as Executive Director of the William Byrd Community House, a community based agency that serves the needs of children and families in the tradition of the settlement house movement of the early 19th century.

Other nonprofit work includes Boaz & Ruth, an agency that helps the formerly incarcerated to achieve independence, and The Healing Place, a long-term residential recovery center for homeless men suffering from addiction.  Early in his career Robert ran a youth workforce development program that helped high school and college students find summer employment.

Robert’s professional career spans nearly three decades and includes experiences in the public and private sectors before his not-for-profit career. Robert has lived and taught school in Botswana, Africa, at a multi-racial private school founded in opposition to apartheid.

Robert is a graduate of Amherst College with a degree in political science. He also completed a post-college, two-year fellowship through Amherst.  Robert has studied leadership at the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia and completed coursework in Virginia Commonwealth University’s Snead School of Business. He is a member of the 2005 Class of Leadership Metro Richmond.

Here’s what Robert’s colleagues had to say about him: “He is personable, has an infectious passion, is a great listener, does not withhold feedback, and knows how to highlight good work.  Robert does not lead by telling us what we are going to do, he leads by listening and responding. This makes him a very effective leader, and inspiring to work with.”


Chris Hairston-White, VP of External Affairs, Better Housing Coalition  

Chris joined the Better Housing Coalition (BHC) in 2015 as Vice President of External Affairs, overseeing BHC’s fundraising, communications and policy efforts.   The Better Housing Coalition, a non-profit community development corporation, transforms communities through high-quality, eco-friendly affordable housing.

Prior to joining BHC, she was a Vice President and Senior Business Banking Relationship Manager at Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., where she managed a portfolio of business clients with gross annual revenues from $2 million to $20 million. In addition to her position at Wells Fargo, Chris’s 12-year banking career includes retail and commercial banking experience with Premier Bank, Inc. (formerly Consolidated Bank & Trust) and Bank of America.

Ms. Hairston-White serves on the Board of Directors of Bon Secours Richmond Health System; Audit & Compliance Committee Member, the Commercial Real Estate for Women (CREW) Richmond board, ART180’s Finance Committee, Cultural Art Center’s Craft + Design Show Committee, and ChamberRVA’s Brand Committee. Previous service includes ART180 Board, Joint Hospital Board of Bon Secours Health System Richmond, Board membership for the Virginia Tourism Authority and F.I.R.S.T. Contractors, Inc; and the Associates Board for Richmond CenterStage Foundation.

Chris received her B.S. in Business from Virginia Commonwealth University and is a member of Leadership Metro Richmond’s class of 2009.

Here’s what Chris’s colleagues had to say about her: “Chris leads by example. She’s a coach, an obstacle remover. She’s creative, energetic, hardworking, and expects excellence from all team members. She innately understands our strengths and capabilities, and uses these insights to draw the best from us.”


Myra Goodman Smith, President & CEO, Leadership Metro Richmond

Myra Goodman Smith is the President and CEO of Leadership Metro Richmond (LMR), our region’s community leadership development and engagement organization, which has served our community for 37 years.

Myra has a wide range of mission driven management and leadership experience. Serving at United Way of Greater Richmond and Petersburg for 23 years, Myra was the Vice President of Community Programs, Organizational Development & Planning, Operations and Corporate & Foundation Relations.  Myra also served as VP of Campaigns, leading the region’s largest community-wide campaign, generating $22.6 million.  Prior to United Way, she was an Institutional Researcher and an Economic and Community Development Planner.

She serves on the national board of the Association of Leadership Programs, the advisory boards of VCU LEAD, the Institute of Philanthropy at UR, the Junior League, the Capital Region Collaborative, Bridging Richmond and as Treasurer of the Jenkins Foundation.  Virginia Lawyers Weekly named Myra as one of the most “Influential Women in Virginia”.

Myra holds a Bachelor’s degree in Urban Studies and Planning and a Masters of Public Administration from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Here’s what Myra’s colleagues had to say about her: “Authenticity, accountability and accessibility are what make Myra an effective leader.  Myra is always her true self.  She is an advocate for inclusion, a champion for diversity, and an exemplary servant leader.  She has a genuine love for the Richmond region and the many communities that it encompasses.”


Megan Hodges, Director of Development, NAMI Virginia

Megan Hodges Mann has over a decade of professional experience in fund development, which stems from her love of connecting volunteers and donors with the “right fit” or non-profit cause for them. She currently serves as the Director of Development for NAMI Virginia (National Alliance on Mental Illness of Virginia) where she is responsible for the organization’s fundraising, budget and marketing.

Previously, she worked at JDRF and the American Cancer Society where she was responsible for fundraising, support and educational programs, and volunteer management. Megan earned her B.A in Sociology – Criminology and Spanish, with a minor in English, from Lynchburg College.

She is a 2012 graduate of Mentor Richmod through the Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce and a 2014 graduate of the Emerging Nonprofit Leadership Program.

Megan recently completed the Board Immersion Program through Make-A-Wish Greater Virginia and participated in the Professional Partnership Program through VAFRE (Virginia Association of Fundraising Executives). She is passionate about access to quality and affordable healthcare, and this value drives her volunteer and professional activities. Megan is a member of VAFRE and YNPN RVA (Young Nonprofit Professionals Network RVA).

Here’s what Megan’s colleagues had to say about her: “It is evident from her involvement in her employees’ and volunteers’ time at work that she wants to see people succeed and grow while looking to prepare the best talent for the Richmond area non-profit scene. She is highly invested in her people and models excellent ethical and work behavioral choices in her role that set up those who work for her to learn best practices for a bright future at our organization and beyond.”

Congratulations to all of the 2017 Great Nonprofit Bosses!  We hope you will join us at YNPN RVA’s Great Nonprofit Bosses Celebration Event on 11/1!  All are welcome!


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YNPN RVA Presents: 2017 Great Nonprofit Bosses

The Young Nonprofits Professional Network RVA (YNPN RVA) believes that a great boss or supervisor supports, inspires and pushes others towards excellence; is an effective communicator, passionate, intuitive and resourceful; and finally, is truly committed to developing the careers of the people they supervise.

Over the past several weeks, YNPN RVA sent out a call to young nonprofit professionals all over Greater Richmond to nominate their boss or supervisor to be recognized as a part of our Great Nonprofit Bosses Celebration on November 1st at the Hippodrome Speakeasy from 6pm to 8pm.

Below are the 2017 Great Nonprofit Bosses, along with an excerpt from the accolades they received from the person who nominated them!

2017 Great Nonprofit Bosses in RVA:

Elizabeth Bass, Executive Director, Virginia Mentoring Partnership 

“She is incredibly supportive of new project ideas from younger employees and will consider each suggestion with thoughtful constructive feedback. I feel that my own professional skills have strengthened tremendously under Elizabeth’s guidance”

Kerry Blumberg, Executive Director, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Richmond     

“Kerry is an effective leader because she is able to see all aspects of our organization and how each intermingle to support our mission. She has a strong passion for strategic planning and process improvement which helps our organization continue to move forward while supporting our mission.”

Robert Bolling, Chief Executive Officer, ChildSavers

“He is personable, has an infectious passion, is a great listener, does not withhold feedback, and knows how to highlight good work.”

Katie Botha, Vice President, Development & Communications, Special Olympics Virginia                                                                                                            

“She is energetic and enthusiastic about new ideas and projects. You can feel her energy when speaking to her, or when listening to her speak to others. Her main purpose as a leader is to empower others.”

Lindy Bumgarner, Executive Director, The Podium Foundation

“She is a leader, mentor, and fully committed to everyone that has a stake in our organization. Whether it be a student looking for career guidance or a board member wondering how they can further support our organization, she makes a continued effort to be there for them and communicate how she can help their aspirations.”

Sara Conlon, Executive Director, OAR of Richmond  

“A boss says what to do, a leader shows the way. She’s a leader.”

Stefanie Fedor, Executive Director, Visual Arts Center of Richmond

“While Stefanie’s effective leadership is exhibited in many ways each day, perhaps her most outstanding quality is her ability to engrain her passion for the arts into both her workplace and community. Her approach to leadership is not to order, but to coach.”

Myra Goodman Smith, President & CEO, Leadership Metro Richmond

“Authenticity, accountability and accessibility are what make Myra an effective leader.      Myra is always her true self.  She is an advocate for inclusion, a champion for diversity, and an exemplary servant leader.  She has a genuine love for the Richmond region and the many communities that it encompasses.”

Nadia Gooray, Program Director, Project Yoga Richmond

“She is always kind, compassionate, and makes a point to be aware of what is happening in our personal lives to make sure the organization supports staff through life’s many phases. Nadia focuses on the whole person and the whole organization, working hard to support staff and develop a work/life balance.”

Chris Hairston-White, VP of External Affairs, Better Housing Coalition   

“Chris leads by example. She’s a coach, an obstacle remover. She’s creative, energetic, hardworking, and expects excellence from all team members. She innately understands our strengths and capabilities, and uses these insights to draw the best from us.”

Jeanine Harper, Executive Director, Greater Richmond SCAN (Stop Child Abuse Now)

“Jeanine embodies the idea of going beyond the call of duty each and every day. She personifies the concept of servant leadership. She expects SCAN staff to give 100% during the work day, but she is always right there alongside you giving it 200%.”

Bettsy Heggie, Chief Operating Officer, GRASP (GReat Aspirations Scholarship Program, Inc.)

“One of her most positive attributes is that she sees you and listens.  Bettsy models kindness and good cheer for all of her staff and for GRASP students.  This enables staff to work collaboratively rather than competitively at all times, creating an atmosphere that lifts the spirits of staff as they arrive at work each day.”

Stephan Hicks, Executive Director, My Brother’s Keeper of Greater Richmond

“God-fearing, prayer warrior, compassionate, heart for people, dedicated, committed, go-getter, never quits. He’s the epitome of a leader.”

Margaret Hill, Executive Director, Hanover Education Foundation

“Margaret is an amazing supervisor.  She is able to lead and guide and make you feel as though you are part of a team at all times.  She allows you to take the reigns on projects she knows you can handle.”

Megan Hodges, Director of Development, NAMI Virginia

“It is evident from her involvement in her employees’ and volunteers’ time at work that she wants to see people succeed and grow while looking to prepare the best talent for the Richmond area non-profit scene. She is highly invested in her people and models excellent ethical and work behavioral choices in her role that set up those who work for her to learn best practices for a bright future at our organization and beyond.”

Bill Jones, Senior Vice President-Admin Services, Family Lifeline

“He is always willing to help or guide an employee in their endeavors.  He does not have the attitude of “that’s not my job” or “that’s beneath me”. He is a wonderful person to have as a Supervisor.”

Hunter Leemon, Executive Director, Sportable

“Hunter is such a positive guy full of enthusiasm and encouragement that overflows to the Sportable Team. He makes sure that things are in place for the team to also succeed.”

Blake MacIver, Executive Director, Advancement Services, VCU Development and Alumni Relations

Blake is endlessly positive and rarely critical.  Blake makes decisions and sticks with them, and is an agent of change and progress. He shares his knowledge with others, and fosters loyalty amongst staff members through his reliability.”

Nadine Marsh-Carter, President & CEO, Children’s Home Society of Virginia

“Our president has an open-door policy, she is always available to talk about ideas, suggestions or problems. When considering policy or change, she listens to other viewpoints and solicits input from the staff. The staff are the stars of the agency and we all shine under her leadership because we know we are part of a great team.”

Stephany Melton, Associate Director, NAMI Virginia

“Stephany helps develop the talents of those she supervises in a variety of ways. She encourages professional development, self-care and critical thinking. In addition to encouraging (and modeling) a healthy work-life balance, Stephany is not afraid to challenge herself while also challenging others. She has a quiet confidence about her that empowers others to try their best.  Most of all, she helps to develop talents of those she supervises by simply believing in them.”

Shawn Nicholson, Chief Operating Officer, Pathways

“Shawn has a can-do attitude, and is always positive in the face of adversity. Shawn is always open to suggestions or opinions from employees and coworkers and I feel that is paramount in a great boss.”

Jessica Philips, Executive VP and Chief Operating Officer, Commonwealth Autism 

“Jessica is a ray of sunshine.  She is always finding the bright-side in every situation.  She leads by professional example, provides support and encouragement, and provides effective feedback in the most tactful way.  Additionally, and probably most importantly, Jessica is a trustworthy boss and dependable friend.”

Diane Reale, Director of Volunteer Resources, Goochland Free Clinic and Family Services

“Diane is an effective leader because she leads by example. She is always willing to help another staff person or make time to discuss an issue, especially if it will help move a project forward. Diane is organized, so even during hectic days, she knows who is doing what and where everything is. That quality allows those working with her to be sure of their tasks and waste little time.”

John Shinholser, President, The McShin Foundation

“John’s visions for The McShin Foundation and our growth are endless.  He is constantly thinking of ways to better our community and solutions to the addiction epidemic.  His enthusiasm roars through our facility and he shows us how to be passionate about recovery.”

Jay Speer, Executive Director, Virginia Poverty Law Center

“Our Executive Director encourages and empowers us to take the lead on statewide policy and legislative issues and backs us up, which is very important.  He is a humble and soft-spoken person which is reflected in his leadership style.  His calm and thoughtful approach, even in the midst of crisis, is a great example to staff.”

Beth Vann-Turnbull, Executive Director, Housing Families First

“Beth regularly strives to not only highlight each staff members strengths but utilizes those strengths to build the agency to its full potential. Staff are regularly asked to participate in changes to the agency that have enabled us to be a low-barrier shelter and create an environment that clients, staff, volunteers, and guests feel good about.”

Congratulations to all of the 2017 Great Nonprofit Bosses!  We hope you will join us at YNPN RVA’s Great Nonprofit Bosses Celebration Event on 11/1!  All are welcome!

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ConnectVA Spotlight: Terence Barber, Prevention & Outreach Specialist, The James House

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Terence Barber and I am the Prevention & Outreach Specialist for the James House. I have a B.A. in Mass Communications and a M.A. in Media Management from Virginia State University.

Prior to starting this position in February, I worked with citizens in the community and helped connect them to resources that would assist them in becoming self-sufficient. I also planned community events and connected with other organizations to help provide services to those clients.


What is the focus of your work, the need you are addressing?

The James House provides support, advocacy and education to people in the Tri-Cities area of Virginia who are affected by sexual violence, domestic violence, and stalking.

I go to community events and raise awareness about the free services that James House offers. I also work with the youth and provide prevention services to promote healthy relationships, coping and more.

The staff of The James House on “Denim Day” 2017.


What do you find most rewarding about your work?

The most rewarding thing about my work is being able to help change people’s lives.  With outreach, I help change people’s lives by raising awareness of the services that are offered by James House. There are people who may need our services but are not aware that they exist. With prevention, I help change lives by teaching the youth different ways to handle situations they may encounter.


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

A major challenge that I have faced in my role is getting schools to collaborate with the prevention program offered by James House. I handle this challenge by working with other programs that have youth.


What’s one misconception the public has about your organization?

A misconception that some people have about the James House is that we only serve women and children. We actually serve men, women and children. Often, people don’t acknowledge that men experience domestic and sexual violence as well.


ABOVE: Over the course of 2014, The James House celebrated their 25th anniversary by sharing 25 stories for 25 years, releasing a new story every other week. All of these stories led up to the reveal of their 26th story at the end of the year.  To learn more about The James House’s support groups, call (804) 458-2840 or email helpline@thejameshouse.org.

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

I am looking forward to executing different sessions of “Do YOU,” a prevention curricula.  “DO YOU” addresses youth violence, dating and sexual violence, sexual harassment, and bullying by confronting its root causes and enhancing protective factors (also referred to as building resilience) to promote positive development and healthy relationships for 13-16 year old’s.

The UnCurriculum (the facilitator’s guide for DO YOU) uses primary prevention principles and creative expression in a strategy intended to prevent violence before it starts. I’m excited because of the things it will teach the youth.


Do you have any exciting collaborations or partnerships in the works?

We are collaborating with the police departments in several localities within our service area to execute the Lethality Assessment Program (LAP). The purpose of LAP is to connect victims to life-saving and community-based services.

LAP is an innovative strategy to prevent domestic violence homicides and serious injuries. It provides an easy and effective method for law enforcement and other community professionals—such as health care providers, clergy members, case workers, court personnel, and even bystanders or family members—to identify victims of domestic violence who are at the highest risk of being seriously injured or killed by their intimate partners, and immediately connect them to the local community-based domestic violence service program. I’m excited, because of the lives it saves.

The LAP is a multi-pronged intervention that consists of a standardized, evidence-based lethality assessment instrument and accompanying referral protocol that helps first responders make a differentiated response that is tailored to the unique circumstances of High-Danger victims.

 How are you leveraging ConnectVA/The Community Foundation to achieve your mission?

ConnectVA allows us to connect with other service providers and promote our services in the community.


Anything else you would like to share?

I look forward to working with providing more services to our youth.

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Help Somebody Spotlight: Sara Fender, The Caring Clothes Closet

We are honored to have received (and are still receiving!) so many incredible nominations for the Help Somebody Hall of Fame.  This week we are highlighting the work of Sara Fender, a passionate volunteer with a desire to make a difference and a great idea to fill a need she saw in the community.  The person who nominated Sara, and wishes to remain anonymous, says that Sara is a true inspiration and leader. Read more about Sara’s story in October’s “Help Somebody Spotlight”:

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

Sara is a bundle of energy – and she is constantly finding ways to use that energy to help others. Her most recent project was through Shady Grove United Methodist Church. She realized that in the surrounding community, there were a lot of people who had clothes that were gently used while at the same time, there were many people who don’t have even the basics.

She approached the pastor with the idea of creating a place where gently used clothes could be donated, and in turn provided to those so desperately in need. There were many hurdles to jump to make this happen – including but not limited to, where this would be, how it would all work, and who would run it.

In less than 2 years, not only is the Caring Clothes Closet up and running, it’s thriving. We have a dedicated building, clothes constantly coming and going, and volunteers who truly love being a resource.  CCC partners with many organizations, like UMFS and CARITAS to help serve the needs of the community more effectively.   In addition, people within our own immediate suburban area are also helped in times of crisis such as fires, displacement, job loss, etc.  To date, clothing has been provided for families who are victims of domestic violence, malnourished children, sibling groups pulled from their homes weeks before Christmas, and the homeless.

And, in 2017, Caring Clothes Closet became an official nonprofit!  This was all from Sara’s vision and desire to help.

The Caring Clothes Closet, located at Shady Grove United Methodist Church in Glen Allen.


What is the impact of Sara’s generosity?

Simply put, people from across Richmond have access to clothes. There is steady traffic, whether members of the community dropping off clothes, volunteers organizing what has been donated, or shoppers browsing through the tightly packed racks, it’s rarely empty.

Sara has an innate ability to love others and make them feel important, so it’s not uncommon to see her in the clothes closet helping someone create an outfit and making them feel like a million bucks. The smiles on the faces of the people who have received clothes are unlike any other. It can be a humbling experience to admit you have such a basic need and sometimes, people are a bit uncomfortable when they arrive on their first visit. What’s remarkable is that they are instantly put at ease, made to feel welcome, and treated with such dignity. Therefore, the real and the most lasting impact is that people leave the Caring Clothes Closet with a smile and the sense that they matter.

This offers something to people that goes far beyond the items they take with them. In addition to clothing that they need, they leave with confidence, restored self-respect, hope, and huge smiles. None of those things can be bought, and their value simply cannot be matched.


Is there anything else you want to share about Sara?

I truly believe that Sara deserves this recognition. If you asked her, she would tell you that she’s simply grateful to help people, and while that is true, I would like to see her tireless efforts commended.

The Caring Clothes Closet is one of many initiatives that Sara has started that have been successful beyond what even she could imagine. What I find most inspiring about Sara is that everything she does, she does with love. In no way would she want to be recognized, nor would she ever admit to the effort she herself has put in. She would tell you that she had a lot of help and that she’s just meeting the needs of others around her. That is the mark of a true leader; one who sees a need, acts on it, and takes far less credit than is deserved.

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ConnectVA Spotilght: Jess Burgess, Artistic and Executive Director, Dogtown Dance Theatre

Tell us about yourself. 

My name is Jess Burgess and I am the Artistic and Executive Director for Dogtown Dance Theatre. Dogtown is a nonprofit dance service organization that provides a home for all of Richmond’s independent performance artists. We seek to enliven our local community by fostering creative expression and education across diverse populations. I am also a choreographer, dancer, and dance instructor creating work and teaching dance across the state of Virginia.


What is the focus of your work?

Since Dogtown’s inception, we noticed the need for independent performing artists to have a home. Producing dance work is an expensive endeavor, and many times dance artists are without the financial means to create their work. Dogtown addresses this need for Richmond’s dance artists by providing them with the resources they need to create their art. This includes the financial, technical, marketing, grant-writing, and administrative support these artists need to keep the independent, vibrant dance voice alive in our community.

Dogtown Dance Theatre is a nonprofit dance service organization that provides a home for all of Richmond’s independent performance artists.


What do you find most rewarding about your work?

Witnessing the culmination of years of work come to fruition live onstage is by far the most rewarding part of my work here at Dogtown. Dance artists by nature learn at a young age the dedication and sacrifice it takes to create dance art. Through programs like the Dogtown Presenter’s Series in the fall and the Richmond Dance Festival in the spring, Dogtown provides artists with rehearsal space to create their art, and then takes them onto the main stage theatre in our beautifully restored former junior high school to bring that work to life.

As a dancer, so much of the focus in life is on training and perfecting technique, the creation of pedagogy, and composition of work, that the production aspect of the theatre is rarely learned. We are able to provide that expertise to artists that wouldn’t otherwise be able to produce their work in a main stage production.

The artists that call Dogtown home are what keep me inspired. We serve over 50 artists on a monthly basis with our programming, and these artists excel in dance that spans across so many diverse genres including modern and contemporary dance, African, salsa, Flamenco, hoop dance and flow arts, tap, hip hop, yoga, and so much more. Dancers at Dogtown come from all types of backgrounds, creating an environment of a culturally diverse, homegrown community.


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

As a relatively young nonprofit arts organization in Richmond, there are so many things that need to be done to promote a new organization and get our mission in front of the arts patrons in the Richmond community. Overall awareness of Dogtown and being located in historic Manchester continues to be a challenge. Manchester is a rapidly growing section of Richmond, and Dogtown is proud to provide a community arts center right in the heart of this development.

What would someone be surprised to know about your organization?

Dogtown is so much more than just a space to rent. We offer comprehensive services to all the artists that call Dogtown home. This in turn allows these artists to bring high quality alternative dance instruction and performance to the Richmond area.



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

Dogtown has so much coming in the 2017-18 Season! Dogtown offers four free weekly classes in hoop dance, Salsa de Rueda, African-Caribbean dance, and modern dance technique alongside other extremely affordable classes and workshops. We also are looking forward to our annual Mardi Gras RVA event in February that includes performances by Dogtown artists, live New Orleans music, Cajun food, a Mardi Gras parade through Manchester, and family-friendly fun for all ages. We also present our 5th anniversary season of the Richmond Dance Festival this spring in May. Richmond Dance Festival is a three-week celebration of dance artists and dance film artists from all across the nation and globe alongside local Richmond artists.


Is your organization involved in any exciting collaborations or partnerships?

Our whole organization thrives on the collaboration of the artists inside the building that call Dogtown home. We also work with VCU Dance, Art Works Galleries and Studios, University of Richmond, Randolph Macon University, Thomas Dale Performing Arts High School, and RVA Arts Academy.

Great art cannot survive or thrive without the spirit of collaboration. Our 2018 Dogtown Presenter’s Series next September will feature four of the seven dance companies in residence here at Dogtown alongside travelling artists and live musicians for a show exploring the ecosystem of our oceans and the journey of one’s soul as it relates to that ever-changing symbiotic relationship. Collaboration is what makes Dogtown so accessible and vibrant!



How are you leveraging ConnectVA/The Community Foundation to achieve your mission?

Dogtown truly appreciates the networking, resources, and support towards a larger collaborative outcome that the Community Foundation provides arts organizations and nonprofits in our community. We’ve worked with other organization directors to discuss strategy and collaboration towards program development and evaluation because of the relationships we’ve been able to build with other arts organizations due to the ConnectVA and TCF opportunities and resources. We’ve also used ConnectVA to list jobs and identify resources for staff development and volunteers for Dogtown. TCF has been a wonderful thought partner and supporter of so many arts organizations in Richmond, and we look forward to continuing to use TCF as a resources to support Dogtown’s mission to provide a home for all independent dance artists in the Richmond community.


 Anything else you would like to share?

As I sat down to write these answers to the spotlight series, it dawned on me that this is my opportunity to let Richmond know what dance is. And what Dogtown means to dancers. The reason Dogtown exists is because of the innate need in many people to be movers. A dance teacher once told me that you don’t choose dance – dance chooses you. This is true for me personally, and it is true for the community of artists that call Dogtown home.

Dogtown has long been my artistic home, but since I became the Artistic and Executive Director in 2015, I have been a witness to an enormous outpouring of support and love for all types of dance. Witnessing these artists coming together – from new choreographers performing in the Richmond Dance Festival beside professional long-standing choreographers, to the community and love that exists in the belly dancing world, alongside the discipline and dedication behind modern and contemporary dance and choreography, and the sense of family that exists in the African classes and workshops inside these walls – I have come alive.

I have always known what dance means to me, but to see what dance means to so many individuals, in so many different forms, makes me believe in this organization and group of artists more than ever. Dogtown is a needed resource in the Richmond community. It is accessible to anyone and everyone that loves this art form. As a new nonprofit organization, we have many challenges ahead of us to secure a sense of longevity. With support through organizations like The Community Foundation, we will be able to do that. Bottom line: this place deserves to exist. The people who create art inside these walls usually do it for nothing. They love it, pure and simple. This is a fact for all artists who claim dance as their own. And Dogtown is bringing this unique community together, right in the heart of historic Manchester in Richmond.

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Nonprofit News: Emerging Nonprofit Leaders 2017-2018 Announced

The Community Foundation serving Richmond and Central Virginia (TCF) is excited to announce the selected participants for the 2017-2018 cohort of Emerging Nonprofit Leaders!

The Emerging Nonprofit Leaders Program is a dynamic eight-month experience for the next generation of nonprofit leaders in the metro Richmond area. In this engaging program, participants have the opportunity to foster a deeper understanding of their leadership capacity, advance their understanding and practice of leading in the nonprofit sector, and strengthen their network of nonprofit colleagues.

Now in its eleventh year of operation, the program has demonstrated measurable results, building a cadre of talented leaders for the future of the Greater Richmond community.

In addition to participating in engaging sessions on topics including strategic leadership, organizational change, collaboration, and coaching others, participants:

  • Experience team building through a rigorous and challenging outdoor course setting
  • Increase awareness of their leadership through a thorough assessment process
  • Benefit from individual leadership coaching, provided by professionals with experience in leadership development and nonprofit management
  • Interact with five local exemplary Executives-in-Residence in a forum where they share their experiences and perspectives

The Emerging Nonprofit Leaders Cohort of 2016-2017 on graduation day in June.

Selection Process

Nonprofit applicants were selected based on their potential to make a significant future contribution to the nonprofit community through assuming higher and increased levels of leadership, show substantive history of involvement in the nonprofit sector through employment, volunteerism, or board service and demonstrate a commitment to ongoing professional development, continuing education, and lifelong learning.

In early September, a committee made up of local nonprofit leaders and ENLP Alumni reviewed applications to ensure that the 11th cohort met above criteria and that the group would be diverse and comprehensive representation of the local nonprofit sector.


The 2017-2018 Emerging Nonprofit Leader Participants

Congratulations to all who were selected to be a part of Emerging Nonprofit Leaders!

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ConnectVA Spotlight: Janet Starke, Richmond Performing Arts Alliance

Tell us about yourself. 

My name is Janet Starke and I am the Executive Director for Richmond Performing Arts Alliance (formerly Richmond CenterStage Foundation).  Our mission is to provide diverse local and world-class performing arts, transformative arts education experiences for all and inspirational venues—all to strengthen the cultural and economic vitality of the Greater Richmond region.


What is the focus of your work, the need you are addressing?

We SUPPORT today’s artists by cultivating diverse arts experiences, NURTURE tomorrow’s artists through programming and experiences that deepen their connection to the arts, and provide spaces for the arts to THRIVE by supporting Richmond’s premier historical venues.

ABOVE: A video showcasing the mission of RPAA and some of its many programs and initiatives.

What do you find most rewarding about your work?

Connecting with people. Our venues—Dominion Arts Center and Altria Theater—serve as home to a dozen resident companies, including Richmond Symphony, Virginia Opera, Richmond Ballet, Elegba Folklore Society, Latin Ballet of Virginia and Quill Theatre. We’re a partner to the Broadway in Richmond series.

Whether advocating for the productions and programming they do, connecting with others to collaborate on our own artistic and education programming, or working with teachers from our school partners, making connections and working together towards meaningful impact is the most rewarding thing we do.



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

Awareness and understanding of what we do. Many people confuse our organization with the resident companies who call our venues home; others simply don’t know there is a non-profit organization dedicated to fundraising for the operations of the venues themselves and community outreach.


What would someone be surprised to know about your organization?

We have a comprehensive education program—our BrightLights Education Initiatives—which take place both at Dominion Arts Center and out in the schools. Our programs span from an arts-integrated early childhood literacy program (ELLA) to our Wells Fargo OnStage Family Series, to media arts instruction for high schoolers as a pathway to a career.

Virginia Rep and ELLA Teaching Artist Jason Sandahl guides Pre-K students through a lesson in understanding our five senses, as part of a residency at RPS’s Bellevue Elementary.


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

This year, we are expanding  ELLA (Early Literacy Learning through the Arts) to the MLK Pre-K Center, which is exciting—to work with an entire school of teachers to introduce strategies for using the arts to teach across the curriculum. Through artist residencies in the classroom, Teaching Artists are providing embedded professional development by demonstrating concrete ways to use music, movement and theatre to teach early literacy skills. There’s also a parental involvement component. Through our Digital Arts Lab, we are teaching video production to high schoolers as a pathway to college and career. Since our opening in 2009, more than 60 students have gone through the program and many have gone on to leading film studies programs across the country and are working in the field.

Is your organization involved in any exciting collaborations or partnerships?

Our partnerships with area schools—particularly RPS—are exciting, as we continue to find ways to apply the arts to meaningful outcomes that positively transform our schools. Also, being a part of groups like Chamber RVA and others who rightfully see the arts as part of a broader community solution; seeing the potential impact we can have in helping to improve community challenges, is exciting to explore together.

How are you leveraging ConnectVA/The Community Foundation to achieve your mission?

We really appreciate the networking, resources and support towards a larger community outcome. At times, we’ve convened with other organization education directors to discuss strategy towards program evaluation. We’ve had wonderful opportunities to share our work with donor-advised funds. Very practically, we’ve used ConnectVA to list jobs and identify resources for staff development and equipment. TCF has been a wonderful thought partner and supporter of the work we strive to do.

Anything else you would like to share?

We feel strongly that the work we have done in the community, at Dominion Arts Center and Altria Theater, has created positive outcomes for a broad range of the community. Children and teachers have gained new ways to look at things through opportunities for learning in and through the arts. Together, they have gained new understandings that will carry them through learning and life. Parents are finding concrete ways to engage with their child to strengthen their child’s learning and develop positive relationships with their child’s teacher. Downtown revitalization has been realized through an increasingly thriving Grace Street corridor. Altria Theater is the largest theater between New York and Atlanta, and makes Richmond a destination for commercial tours. Altogether, we are a wiling and grateful partner in the cultivation of thriving arts community, and we continue to aim to find ways that the arts can not only entertain and inspire, but can also provide transformational change for our schools and communities.

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Help Somebody Spotlight: Allen Earehart, Volunteer, Goochland Free Clinic and Family Services

ConnectVA and The Community Foundation are excited to share another shining example of a great person doing great work in our community, through the Help Somebody Hall of Fame – meet, Allen Earehart, active volunteer and board member for Goochland Free Clinic and Family Services (GFCFS) ! Diane Reale, Director of Volunteer Resources for GFCFS, reached out to us to share more about the firm commitment and incredible impact Allen has in the Goochland community.

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

Allen Earehart inspires others to do good through his vision and example. Allen’s vision for our community includes improving the lives of impoverished and at-risk individuals and families. He sets an example through his volunteer service at Goochland Free Clinic and Family Services in both hands-on roles and leadership positions. It’s not only the number of hours that Allen donates — over 400 in 2016 — it’s his selfless commitment to providing assistance to our neighbors in need that makes him someone who demonstrates the spirit of the “Help Somebody Hall of Fame.”

Allen is a frequent figure at the Food Pantry, which provides food for over 170 households on a weekly basis. Twice a week he carries bags of food for our clients, many of whom are elderly and/or disabled. One morning a week he does a “food run” to FeedMore, the regional food bank, and once a month he leads a team to pick up food donations from local grocery stores. Allen puts our clients first. He is always looking for ways to improve how we deliver services to our clients. When it’s raining, he pitches a tent for our clients to stay dry while waiting for their turn in the Food Pantry. He was also instrumental in moving the Food Pantry into a temporary location while a new building is being built. During the move, Allen helped ensure that clients did not miss one day of food distribution. Allen worked on a team to implement a plan to double the number of days the Food Pantry distributes food in the new space. If Allen sees a gap, he looks to fill it.

Food donations for the GFCFS Food Pantry come from local residents, grocery stores, neighborhoods, corporate groups, faith organizations, schools, FeedMore, and others.

When Allen noticed that Clothes Closet volunteers and staff members had to stand on a hard floor for long periods of time, he donated anti-fatigue mats. When he saw that more handicapped parking spots were needed for clients, he designed temporary handicapped spots for Food Pantry distribution days. When the temporary space needed equipment for cleaning and painting, Allen brought ladders, a shop vac and other tools. Allen selflessly helps so many somebodies: clients, fellow volunteers, and staff members. He would prefer to go unnoticed, but we believe he is a great candidate for the “Help Somebody Hall of Fame.”


What’s the impact of Allen’s generosity?

As a direct result of his leadership, Allen has done much to improve the lives of the disabled and needy in Goochland County. His impact can be seen at the construction site of the GFCFS new building, in the number of people who get food every week at the Food Pantry, and in the direction he provides as a Board Member.

Progress on the new GFCFS building as of August 2017. The new building will be located at 3001 River Road West and expected completion is winter 2017.

Allen is a member of the Building Committee and IT Committee. He meets with the Owner-Architect-Construction team on a weekly basis. He uses his expertise to advocate for best solutions for the new building where our clients will be able to have all 11 GFCFS programs under one roof. Currently, Goochland Free Clinic and Family Services is located in four separate buildings. In the Food Pantry, Allen fills many roles to ensure that the 170 families who come to Food Pantry every week have a selection of healthy food choices. His concern for our clients is paramount. He carries bags of food to our clients’ cars, picks up food from grocery stores, and makes sure that our clients have a safe and dignified experience at the Food Pantry.

A rendering of the new GFCFS building. The 20,000-square-foot facility that will provide space for 11 programs currently offered at three separate sites by GFCFS. It will combine critical assistance programs including medical and dental clinics, a food pantry, and an initiative to provide clothing to those in need. The existing main building at this location will be converted into emergency housing.

As a Board Member, Allen is on the Finance Committee. Keith Reynolds, Past Board President and current Board Member describes Allen as “an active board member whose enthusiasm and business perspective have been instrumental in making GFCFS’s vision of a ‘one stop shop’ for our clients possible.” If there is something that can be done to help our vulnerable neighbors, Allen is there to help.


About the Help Somebody Hall of Fame

The Help Somebody Hall of Fame is a platform to express gratitude for a person in the community who acts selflessly to improve the lives of others.  We want to share these stories in hope of inspiring more people in Greater Richmond to act with generosity.  There will be random drawing from those who are honored, and two honorees will select a nonprofit of their choice to receive $1000.  Read more about how to nominate someone here.

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ConnectVA Spotlight: Rex McCoy, project:HOMES

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Rex McCoy and I am the Weatherization Crew Leader at project:HOMES. I bring 26 years of construction experience to project:HOMES, and am a master tradesman of ten different trades.

ABOVE: A clip about the Weatherization Program from project:HOMES in partnership with Dominion EnergyShare.

What is the focus of your work and the need you are addressing?

project:HOMES is a 501(c)(3) housing nonprofit serving Central Virginia, and expanding to include areas in the Tidewater region. We offer comprehensive services that serve through the following programs:

  • Revitalization program that builds affordable housing to revitalize historic neighborhoods
  • Rehabilitation program that repair existing homes to preserve affordability
  • Renew Crew volunteer program that improves the safety and accessibility of existing houses through accessibility modifications
  • Weatherization programs that improve the energy efficiency of existing homes

As part of the Weatherization team, I provide energy efficiency improvements to cost-burdened households. A big part of what I do is educating homeowners on energy conservation techniques and home maintenance.

The work we provide increases the efficiency of a home, conserves energy resources, and provides savings to homeowners on their energy bills. Our goal is to increase the overall health of a home and the comfort of our clients.


What do you find most rewarding about your work?

The most rewarding thing about my work is the positive impact it has on the people we serve. I’m proud of the quality of work my team & I provide every day.


What would someone be surprised to know about your organization?

There is so much paperwork and certifications that go into serving one home! A lot of tests, reports, and overall paperwork are required before actual work can begin on a client’s home. Also, Weatherization staff have numerous qualifications and certifications required to complete our critical services.

ABOVE: This summer project:HOMES built a house in only 5 days with partners Philip Morris!

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

I am helping lead our efforts to strengthen our presence in rural communities like Amelia and Charles City. We are reaching out to local government leaders to discuss how to best meet area residents’ needs. Additionally, we are partnering with area organizations like Senior Connections to identify individuals and families in rural areas in need of services.


Is your organization involved in any exciting collaborations or partnerships?

Over the past few years we have had the opportunity to partner with Dominion Energy’s utility programs. At the end of the month we are completing an exciting project made possible through Dominion Energy’s support and volunteers for the McShin Foundation.  We are highlighting this project as a part of our year-long 25th anniversary celebrations. Visit www.projecthomes.org/25th-anniversary for a complete list of events.


How are you leveraging ConnectVA/The Community Foundation to achieve your mission?

The Community Foundation is a generous supporter of project:HOMES’ programs and services. ConnectVA has played a vital role in recruiting some of our staff, and is a resource for staying connected to local nonprofit news and events.

 Anything else you would like to share?

It’s a pleasure working at project:HOMES and with the people here.

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News from the Community: RVA Community Fund for Standing Together Launches with Mini Grants for Nonprofits

The Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities is pleased to announce a new resource for Richmond-area nonprofit organizations.  Thanks to initial funding from the Robins Foundation and fund management from the Richmond Jewish Foundation, the RVA COMMUNITY FUND FOR STANDING TOGETHER was launched on August 21st, 2017.


This funding opportunity supports Richmond-area nonprofit organizations with financial support for rapid response services after incidents of bias, discrimination, or bullying. These incidents often require immediate interventions that are not covered by traditional funding mechanisms. As such, this fund ensures that nonprofit organizations will have greater capacity to meet needs that are increasingly urgent in today’s climate.  Nonprofit organizations are invited to apply for mini-grants of $500, $1,000, or $1,500 to support interventions including facilitating, convening, counseling, and coaching.

Jonathan Zur, President and CEO of VCIC, says that he encourages organizations to apply for funding to support community-wide solidarity events after incidents of bias or discrimination, schools that need professional development or student workshops after bullying etc.

The grant application form is can be found online at http://www.inclusiveva.org/standing-together-rva/fund/.  Completed application forms can be submitted at any time to communityfund@inclusiveVA.org.  Applications will be reviewed by an objective, diverse committee on a weekly basis, and approved requests will be funded within two weeks.

This RVA Community Fund for Standing Together will exist until all resources are expended.


Individuals or foundations interested in donating to support this effort can go here http://tinyurl.com/rjf-donate and select “RVA Community Fund for Standing Together” in the “Fund Designation”.

Contact the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities by emailing jzur@inclusiveva.org with any questions and please spread the word about this opportunity!

To learn more about Standing Together RVA go here.

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