Get to know Allison Gilbreath, Community Engagement Manager, with Prevent Child Abuse Virginia.
Tell us a little about yourself and your organization.
I am a native of Chesapeake, Virginia but fell in love with Richmond, while attending VCU as an undergraduate. In search of my purpose in this world I interned at the Virginia General Assembly, volunteered as a Court Appointed Special Advocate, and became a Virginia Governor?s Fellow serving in the Office of Public Safety. After my Governor?s Fellowship I was hired as a Program Support Coordinator at Prevent Child Abuse Virginia in Richmond, VA and months later added on the responsibilities of Volunteer Coordinator. After 3 years I made the decision to pursue a Masters of Social Work degree with a concentration in administration, planning, and policy at VCU. Our agency Director, Johanna Schuchert, offered me the opportunity to remain at PCAV in a part time capacity. I was asked to create a role for myself that aligned with my strengths and wants to make a difference, thus I created the role of Community Engagement Manager, where it is my goal to increase the awareness of the importance of child abuse and neglect prevention strategies in the Commonwealth.
What is the focus of your work and the need you are addressing?
Prevent Child Abuse Virginia, also known as PCAV, is a statewide, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization whose mission is to prevent the abuse and neglect of children throughout the Commonwealth. For nearly 40 years, PCAV has partnered with the State of Virginia, local community governments and organizations, citizens and the business community to emphasize positive parenting practices as the antidote to child abuse and neglect. PCAV believes that by educating moms and dads, caregivers and the general public on how to effectively parent children, we can help create communities that are free from abuse and neglect. Accordingly, public education and raising public awareness are a significant part of our work. We also host training programs for professionals who work in the prevention field, and partner with other child advocacy organizations around the state to champion legislation and policies that benefit children and families.
What do you find most rewarding about your work?
I believe my purpose in life is to prevent child abuse and neglect to ensure that all children have an equal opportunity in life. I love that I get to go to a job where I am fulfilling my purpose ? so many people never get to do that, especially at 25. I am learning everyday how many different ways there are to fulfill my mission, whether that is testifying at the Virginia legislature, wearing a pinwheel for prevention on my shirt, or attending a community fair spreading our message.
Tell us about your biggest accomplishment in this position.
One of the greatest accomplishments I have made in this position is revitalizing our ?PCAV Young Professionals Committee?. Members of the young professionals committee have the opportunity to network with other young professionals while coordinating activities to raise awareness about the importance of prevention, and most importantly they play a major role in keeping Virginia?s children safe from abuse and neglect. When I started actively recruiting for this group we went from 8 members to over 40 members. One of the major challenges in working in any nonprofit is always fundraising ? I have forced myself to constantly think outside of the box to find new and exciting ways to raise funds outside of the traditionally grant writing model. One of the lessons I would share to other community engagement managers is to use your network! You never know who may know someone who can help you in your mission.
What?s coming next for you and your organization that really excites you?
I am really excited about the Young Professionals committee partnering with ComedySportz Improv Theatre in January for an exciting night of ?Celebrity? improv with the proceeds going towards Prevent Child Abuse Virginia. Tickets will be on sale very soon! If anyone is interested in becoming a member of the PCAV young professional committee they can visit our website for more information: http://pcav.org/young-professionals-committee/
How are you leveraging ConnectVA to achieve your mission?
PCAV uses ConnectVA to post job opportunities (I found my job on ConnectVA!) and to share upcoming events we are having. One of the things we love most about ConnectVA is it provides a vehicle for nonprofits to post things onto a highly visible platform at an extremely low cost. Last year, after posting about our annual fundraising gala, a local florist contacted us to donate flowers for o