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User Spotlight: Ann Payes, Big Brothers Big Sisters

Get to know this week’s ConnectVA User Spotlight – Ann Payes, Executive Director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Richmond & Tri-Cities

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Ann Rohde Payes and I am the Executive Director at Big Brothers Big Sisters.  I?ve worked in development and organizational management for over 15 years with a focus on youth and education.  I?ve been involved with youth service and mentoring since I was in high school when I led youth alcohol and drug prevention programs.

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

I focus on helping kids build a positive vision for the future by showing them what is possible with the help of a caring, consistent and compassionate adult mentor.  Kids who participate in Big Brothers Big Sisters build social skills, increase academic success and create healthy lifestyles ? they are empowered for success.  When kids believe in themselves and can find and create opportunities, the whole community benefits.

What do you find most rewarding about your work?

I deeply respect our Moms who request a mentor for their child.  The love and hope they show for their kids is amazing ? striving for a better life.  On a regular basis we hear from our Moms how great the Bigs are and what an impact they have made on their Littles.  And, the Littles make an equally significant impact on their Bigs!

Tell us about your biggest accomplishment in this position?

 During my second week on the job we got a Federal funding cut equal to 20% of our annual budget.  Handling that cut has been both my biggest challenge and my biggest accomplishment ? we acted swiftly so we did not have to cut any services to our Littles.  I got reminded of this in a fortune cookie recently when I needed it, ?The wisest thing is to act.?

Not only have we overcome that budget cut, but we are expanding!  We recently opened a satellite office in Hampton Roads to serve military dependents.  We hit our first year goal on October 31 ? now we have to make this a sustainable project.

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

Over the past year, we dramatically improved our quality metrics.  Our next job is to provide more mentors for kids and to find innovative ways for kids and mentors to work together ? whether it is online, at the workplace, with seniors or creating a niche program.  Building financial stability will allow Big Brothers Big Sisters to take risks that are necessary to make an impact in our community.

How are you leveraging ConnectVA to achieve your mission?

I don?t want to give away all my secrets, but I love working with all of the PNE programs.  I?m working with Organizational Solutions on the Board Immersion program ? we?ve gotten some great new talent engaged with our agency as a result.   And classes through PNE/Nonprofit Learning Point ? I highly recommend anything by Ann Deaton, Dena Reynolds or Elaine Kiziah.  Plus, we share the Connect VA calendar with our clients.

Anything else you would like to share?

A gentle reminder to all of us who work in the nonprofit community ? our jobs are not our service, we must still volunteer!  It is important to remember what it is like to be a volunteer, for better or for worse, and to engage with the community outside our jobs.  Both you and your agency will benefit from your community service.

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