Boys & Girls Clubs of the Blue Ridge
6 E. Main Street, Suite A
Martinsville, VA 24112
Certificate in Nonprofit Management, Duke University
Bachelors of Fine Arts – Concentration: Painting; Minors: Graphic Design & Ceramics, Virginia Tech
Bachelor of Arts – Major: Studio Art; Minors: Communication Studies, English, Virginia Tech
Professional/business/civic/nonprofit organizations in which you are/have been involved and positions held:
- Panel Member for the Virginia Commission for the Arts – Reviewed Grant applications and Operating Support for Organizations
- Founding and Advisory Board Member of the “MHC After 3” Initiative working to develop an after school community system, 2005 – Present
- Commencement Speaker – College of Art, Virginia Tech, 2001
- Annual Guest Lecturer – Professional Practices Class, Virginia Tech, 2000 – Present
- Class of 2000 Graduate – Leadership Development Course, Martinsville & Henry County Chamber of Commerce
- Aerobics Coordinator, YMCA of Martinsville & Henry County, 2001 – 2009
- Alumni, Class of 2009, LEAD Virginia Program
- 2009 Alumni, Advanced Leadership Program, Boys & Girls Clubs of America
- Certified Aerobics Instructor, Personal Trainer, Yoga Instructor & Get Real Weight Management Instructor
- Board of Directors, Safetynet, 2005 – Present
- Member, H.O.P.E. Initiative Taskforce – UW; Student Health Advisory Board
- Past Board Member & Sustainer, Charity League of Martinsville and Henry County
- Board Member, HEY! – Helping Empower Youth, 2004 – Present
- Member, The Professional Association, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, 2005 – Present
- Member, Piedmont Arts Association, 1999 – Present
Who were the important mentors you have had and how did they impact your career?
Career mentors in my life include my grandmother, my first executive director and a past board president. All three women impacted my career in various ways.
My grandmother gave me the foundation of my work ethic by exemplifying right from wrong, hard work, the importance of education and giving back. She stayed active in her community and sharp in her mind keeping up with trends and current events until she passed away just 6 weeks shy of turning 101.
The first executive director I worked under in the nonprofit field taught me how to be a team player, manage a board, and build relationships and partnerships within the community. She knew when to be tough and how to be gracious – a skill I admired, work to exemplify, and one that has served me well when standing up for those children and families who need us most.
Finally, my past board president mentored me on how to be a coach and how to be coached. Together we would put our minds together to problem solve. She showed me how to give myself some grace by allowing things to be “finished, but not perfect” – a lesson in prioritizing. She led me on how to build strong foundations and writing policies and procedures that would stand the test of time.
What do you consider your biggest personal and/or professional accomplishment and why?
My greatest personal and professional accomplishment is being the inaugural executive director to lead a Boys & Girls Club in a community with the highest unemployment in the Commonwealth and seeing the impact it has had on thousands of children and their families since we first opened our doors in 2004. The organization has grown tremendously, tripling the number of youth served, full and part-time staff, partnerships, and budget size. We have increased the quality of our programs and services, particularly with so many socio-economic challenges against us. In 2008 we earned recognition from our national organization to become our own charter organization allowing us the capability to expand our services to neighboring counties and communities.
I have seen club members improve their self-esteem, succeed in academics, grow in character and give back to our community. I have hugged an exhausted and crying single mother when she found out her children could go to an affordable, safe and positive place after school, allowing her to keep her part-time job. Knowing that I am an integral part of an organization where over 57 percent of alumni said it “saved their life” is the greatest accomplishment of my personal and professional career.
What advice would you give to a young person graduating from college this spring?
Be smart, successful, incredible, amazing. Be inspired, be an inspiration, be more. Be a leader, a difference-maker. Be a star. Be a good person. Be kind. Be generous. Be the change. Be involved. Be happy. Be healthy. Be a friend. Be true to yourself, but most importantly, encourage yourself with every decision, action, or task to be great.
How do you achieve a balance between your professional life and your personal life?
Health and fitness are very important to me. Exercise allows me to achieve balance by reducing my stress level, giving me time to problem solve and think creatively. Therefore I schedule one hour for myself every day to make sure I am able to work out. I am very protective of this hour; it is not to be taken away from me, even though the time may have to be adjusted based on schedule. By putting myself first, I have more energy and positive temperament making me a better employee to my board, manager, wife, coach, and friend to others.
When you were growing up, what did you want to be?
I’m still growing up. I always wanted and still want to be an artist and a philanthropist. I want to be able to inspire and move people through my art and invest in people and causes that make an impact on the communities around us.
What is your favorite book or movie and why?
Princess: A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia by Jean Sasson
I’ve always been drawn to books or movies based on real life events. This book recounts the life story of a Saudi princess, offering a glimpse of the appalling conditions endured by even privileged women in the Middle East. I was still in high school when I first read this book and I remember feeling powerfully awakened by the horror of the injustices endured by the women described.
I couldn’t imagine being ruled by strict laws that subjected women to unwelcome marriages, execution at whim, and the boredom of purdah. The book was a turning point for me, making me aware of my culture, teaching me respect for the history and culture of other countries, and the blessings bestowed on me as an American woman.
What are two things about you that not many people know?
My father raised me and my sister as a single parent since I was a year old.
I completed my first sprint triathlon this past May.