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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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