The LMR Blog

The Making of a Unique Recipe

It started with Sunday brunches at Suja’s house. We looked forward to her French toast and Moroccan lamb merguez ragout...mmm, a favorite! Food is magical. It's universal. It brings people together no matter where you're from, what language you speak, or what religion you practice. You know what else does too? A passion to make a difference.

We were leaders and advocates from the Asian and Latino communities here in the Commonwealth, yet we continued to face common challenges, such as the lack of equitable representation and access to resources. By working together, we believed we could be stronger so several of us formed the Asian & Latino Solidarity Alliance (ALSA). Our mission is to advance the common objectives impacting the Asian and Latino communities in Central Virginia; one of which is to empower and advocate for current and future leaders.

Modeled after a Nashville program, inspired by Leadership Metro Richmond’s (LMR) Quest program, and spearheaded by Eric Lin (LMR ‘06), we launched our My Academy Programs last month. These orientation programs, the first of their kind in the Commonwealth of Virginia, were developed in partnership with Henrico and Chesterfield counties to help new Virginians,
particularly those from multicultural immigrant communities, understand how to navigate their local government resources.

Over 40 participants from over a dozen different racial and ethnic backgrounds make up the inaugural classes of My Henrico Academy (MHA) and My Chesterfield Academy (MCA). Over the course of the 7-month programs, our goal is for participants to learn about the resources and contacts available to them and take this knowledge back to their families and
communities. Thus, giving immigrant communities every opportunity to be self-reliant, knowledgeable, and actively engaged.

To that end, we want Academy graduates to engage and give stronger community leaders and advocates to not only enhance their own well-being but that of their communities. We will unite both classes after graduation to create a network with which graduates can look to each other for help and opportunities, cultivate relationships, and identify and address common concerns. We can be stronger together!

That's the recipe. That's the story...the impact of LMR inspires servant leadership and encourage collaboration to better our communities.

ALSA Board of Directors

  • Suja Amir (LMR '20), Secretary, MHA Participant
  • Gustavo Angeles, Director
  • Angela Chiang (LMR '10), Treasurer, MHA and MCA Participant
  • Eric Lin (LMR '06), Community Engagement Director, MHA and MCA Participant
  • Vicki Mirandah (LMR '13), Director and MHA Participant
  • May Nivar (LMR '17), Chair and MCA Participant
  • Aida Pacheco, Community Engagement Director
  • Carmen B. Williams, Director

LMR Graduates Supporting MCA

  • Joe Casey (LMR '00), County Administrator
  • Chris Winslow (LMR '17), County Board Supervisor (Clover Hill District) and Session 1 Speaker
  • Chinsuk Henshaw (LMR '10), MCA Participant

LMR Graduates Supporting MHA

  • John Vithoulkas (LMR '03), County Manager
  • Paula Reid (LMR '07) County Human Resources

May Nivar
Regulatory Affairs, Altria
Class of 2017

From Contacts to Collaboration

James Davis, a recent graduate of the Leadership Quest Class of 2019, wasted no time tapping into the LMR network to help create jobs and find creative solutions for everyday challenges he saw in the community.  James is the human services assistant for the City of Richmond’s Office of Community Wealth Building (OCWB).  He was brought into this role by his mentor and former supervisor, Reggie Gordon (LMR ’02).  Outside of his role at OCWB, James created MySource, Inc., an organization which helps connect communities to resources.  Below he reflects on how the Leadership Quest experience brought him into a powerful network that now allows him to work faster and more efficiently in both professional roles:

“There are numerous connections I have made within the Leadership Quest Class of 2019 that have really helped to move my work forward.  I am currently working with Sheryl Adams (LMR ’19), Chief Operating Officer for GRTC, on a number of initiatives for OCWB including hiring 25 drivers.  My prep work with those individuals includes everything from mock interviews to acquiring the correct interview attire. With the help of GRTC, we have provided support to those needing to address the points on their driver’s license by assisting them with driving school fees and transporting them to Petersburg for class. GRTC will be providing these new hires with in-house training for their CDL license with P endorsement.  Eventually we would also like to ensure that every bus driver is trained to respond in case of an opioid overdose to administer naloxone (Narcan).

I am also working with Dr. Cynthia Minto (LMR ’19) through the OCWB to get 20 direct professionals hired with Richmond Residential Services, where Dr. Minto serves as the Chief Operating Officer. To do this, we are hosting job fairs all across town in search of talent.  Dr. Minto and her team attend these events and interview candidates on the spot.  They are also doing in-house training for those that pass the initial interview stage and would like to get licensed in the developmental disabilities field.

As a part of my work with OCWB, I manage the Ambassador Program for the City of Richmond.  This program engages 25 community members to volunteer in the low-income communities they came from and inform others about the resources that are available to those living in poverty. We also strategize around community events and do a lot of community engagement. I have discussed with Sarah Milston (LMR ’19), CEO of The Spark Mill, to have her strategic planning and nonprofit consulting firm come in and work with our Ambassadors.  I think this will be a major piece for our program to help empower the community.

To serve the youth of our city through OCWB, I am partnering with Cheri Dahl (LMR ’19), Executive Director for US Programs at ChildFund International.  We are working on creating an experience for inner-city youth to connect with youth from third-world countries through technology.  These Skype conversations will help them gain perspectives different from their own through conversations with students from across the globe.

Through my own organization MySource, Inc., I am finding other unique ways to assist communities with workforce opportunities and resources.  For example, I am currently designing an entrepreneurship center made from shipping containers.  While this is just in the early stages of ideation, I am already talking with my classmates Alan Davis (LMR ’19), Principal Architect at Baskervill and Ian Batt (LMR ’19), Vice President of Middle Market Commercial Banking at Atlantic Union Bank regarding the design process and feasibility.

Beyond workforce development, MySource Inc. is concerned about improving the overall quality of life within some the city’s most challenged communities.  My team and I are working towards building a solar farm to power Whitcomb Court, one of our city’s low income communities.  This idea surfaced while we were working to solve the heating crisis last year.  During that time, we restored heat to 75 homes in Creighton Court with the help of the residents.  After completing a solar project on a parking deck downtown, I then meet Orlando Artze (LMR ’94) who was then the interim CEO for the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority (RRHA). He agreed to meet with me and my team in regards to this project. Mr. Artze has given us the electric bill for RRHA and later this month we will be meeting at Dominion Energy to discuss how they might support this project.  This meeting was made possible by Ruth Prideaux (LMR ’19), Director of Generation Construction in Renewable Energy for Dominion Energy.  Additionally, my organization will also be helping Dominion to hire more linemen.

The work of MySource Inc. spans beyond just job placement for adults, also working with our city’s youth.  After connecting with City of Richmond Fire Lieutenant Keron Tull (LMR ’19), we are now working together to create a path for young adults to become firefighters. Chris Frelke (LMR ’19), Director of City of Richmond Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities, has offered to assist us with space for an after-school program that will offer lessons in cosmetology and hairstyling. With the help of Nick Haltom (LMR ’19), Economic Education Director at Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, we are expanding the resources provided to high school students through our in-school, interactive entrepreneurship lessons.  Nick has agreed to host over 100 students at the Federal Reserve Bank for a tour and finance workshop.

The Leadership Quest experience has helped me broaden my network and start new initiatives with greater knowledge and more resources. I look forward to seeing these projects through and collaborating with others in the LMR network as more opportunities for creative solutions arise.”

James Davis
Founder, MySource, Inc.
LMR Class of 2019

Remembering RVA Sheroes

March is Women's History Month, an annual declared month that highlights the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society. Throughout my lifetime, I have had the pleasure to meet and talk with remarkable women whose contributions are known nationally.  Amongst them is Dr. Johnnetta Cole, whom I first met in 1993 at a luncheon in Richmond, followed by encounters at United Way Worldwide, where she was the first African America Board Chair.  At that time, Dr. Cole, a respected anthropologist and educator, was the President of Spelman College and had just released her new book, Conversations: Straight Talk with America’s Sister President.  Her keynote focused on her book which “speaks to America’s Black women, calling out to them to take an active role – as she is doing – to help make our world a better place.” During her comments she gave examples of women that have made great strives to create positive impact in the lives of others.  She called them “Sheroes”, women that are admired or idealized for their courage, outstanding achievements or noble qualities. That was the first time I had heard the term.

There are many national sheroes that are remembered fondly for the impact they have made, but we do not have to look far outside of RVA to embrace the memories of local women who touched the lives of many.  In recognition of Women’s History Month, I remember two local sheroes whom I have known for years and marveled on how they worked unselfishly for their neighbors. The late Barbara Abernathy (LMR ’06) battled for the survival of the Carver community and the late Yvonne Spain (LMR ’90) fought for the betterment of the Swansboro community. Both from humble beginnings, stood tall and spoke what needed to be said.  They were disrupters in the name of service. Barbara and Yvonne have been gone in less than a year.  They will be greatly missed and their absence begs the question, who will be the future sheroes of Carver and Swansboro?  What examples to follow and shoes to fill.

Myra Goodman Smith
President & CEO, Leadership Metro Richmond
LMR Class of 2006

**Please note that on April 13, 2019, the 100 block of Larne Avenue in the Swansboro community, will be honorarily named on behalf of the late Yvonne Spain.


Woman Speak Your Truth

Where do you go when you want to talk?  You want to go to a place where you feel comfortable in sharing your thoughts; where there is no blame and no shame.  Woman Speak Your Truth was created to offer a safe space for such conversations.  There are no interruptions, no raised voices.  We are open to a variety of subjects.  That’s important.  In the first group I hosted there was a woman who said, “I was taught to never talk about race, religion or politics.” In this group, no topic is off limits.  We are grown women that can discuss anything.

At Woman Speak Your Truth, we learn how to communicate effectively and manage our emotions.  Emotion is necessary in order to convey perspective, but that emotion need not overwhelm.

The idea to partner with Leadership Metro Richmond to host Woman Speak Your Truth came as a result of a conversation between Lynda Sharp Anderson (LMR ’93) and me.  I started convening a small group of women for open conversation in January of 2017.  Lynda had been taking part in these conversations, and after she attended her LMR reunion she asked if three of her classmates could come to the last Woman Speak Your Truth gathering for the summer.  I politely denied her request because I wasn’t sure if I was going to continue hosting these conversations due to low attendance.  Then I thought, “Where else could I find women willing to talk and share?”  LMR is the perfect place.  So I approached the LMR President and CEO Myra Goodman Smith with this idea, not knowing what she would say or if the group would still be able to talk about any topic.  Myra was so receptive to the idea and so welcoming.

Our conversation in February focused on the involvement of several LMR alumni featured in the University of Richmond Museum exhibit, Growing Up in Civil Rights Richmond: A Community Remembers.  In the future, more of our conversations will focus on a specific alumna or topic but at times we will still be free flowing with our discussions.  For example, March is “I am Woman Month,” and I look forward to our sharing about a woman who was/is instrumental to our growth.

For those individuals who are not female alumni of LMR, if you have a desire to form your own group for open conversation I would suggest limiting your group size to no more than 25 people. You want the group to be fairly intimate. Intimacy encourages your participants to speak their truth.  I’m a coach, and when you have a large group people tend not to be as open.  In small groups, the conversation is more organic.  If you are seeking more advice on how to form your own group, contact me at  I’d love to talk with you further.

Since I started Woman Speak Your Truth so much has come forward to fuel our conversations, for example the #MeToo movement and the election of numerous women to Congress.  It’s amazing what’s happening with women (stepping forward and speaking up) and it fuels our conversations to explore race, religion, politics, and more.

Rita Ricks
Rita Ricks LLC, Spiritual Business Coach, Inspirational Speaker, Workshop Facilitator, Author, Host of SPEAKING TO YOUR SPIRIT on Amazon Prime
LMR Class of 1989

Leading Though This

Conversations fill the air and air waves with stories about the top leadership of the Commonwealth of Virginia.   The responses, opinions and feelings of our region’s community leaders are as diverse as Leadership Metro Richmond’s network.  As an organization that supports the development of community leaders, we will not attempt to tell you what to think or how to respond to the current news surrounding our state’s leadership.  Instead we want to provide you with a few thoughts on how you, as a leader, can serve by modeling the way going forward.

At Leadership Metro Richmond, our development of community leaders is based on the principles of servant leadership.  Leaders that serve focus on the needs of others first.  Leaders that serve listen first. Your opinions and feelings may not align with those around you, yet as a leader, we must tap into that and seek understanding.   Emotions are high and listening ears alongside open hearts are imperative.

Leaders that serve always empathize.  We are simply asking you to consider what those involved are going through at this time. Empathy does not eliminate accountability, but it allows us to project our own consciousness into another person.  It provides us with clearer focus on what matters most.

In these challenging times we must build and rebuild trust among our community leadership.  Trust comes through communication.  Consider the servant leader examples we will set by the way we talk, act, decide and interact with one another[i] in the days to come.  As we continue to construct our opinions and responses, let us listen to various perspectives with ears of empathy.  The world is watching and the way in which we move forward matters.

Myra Goodman Smith
President & CEO, Leadership Metro Richmond
LMR Class of 2006


Patricia Bradby
Director of Communications and Programs, Leadership Metro Richmond
LMR Class of 2019

[i] Civic Engagement and Economic Development, The ECDI Blog,  Joseph Sumner, Ph.D.

A Refreshing Perspective

The Lora M. Robins Speaker Series is an event I look forward to each year, especially this year’s session on “The Crisis of Urban Education” featuring Dr. Chris Emdin. Charged with leading the Virginia Department of Education’s efforts aimed at advancing equity, closing achievement gaps, and decreasing disproportionality in student outcomes – I was intrigued to hear from the professor who wrote the book For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood... and the Rest of Y'all Too: Reality Pedagogy and Urban Education. In my work at the VDOE, we had recently received recommendations from The Taskforce to Diversify Virginia’s Educator Pipeline and held a statewide convening on minority teacher recruitment.

The timing was perfect. What could we learn from Dr. Emdin about delivering engaging and culturally relevant instruction that supports learning and success for students of color? All I can say is – I. Was. Not. Ready! Dr. Emdin was a refreshing perspective. His remarks were compelling, honest, inspirational, and provocative. Chris challenged our traditional thinking about teaching, and student learning. Reality Pedagogy needed a larger audience – and I knew just the forum.

We were in the early stages of planning a statewide conference on equity. I knew that we needed to incorporate Reality Pedagogy into our convening. LMR and the Robins Foundation were instrumental in making the connection that allowed us to secure Dr. Emdin as a keynote for the inaugural Virginia is for All Learners: Education Equity Summer Institute – a convening of more than 500 educators from across the Commonwealth. Our overarching goal was to explore the implications of institutional racism in public education and raise state discourse around policy and practices that positively affect equity outcomes for Virginia’s public school students (K-12). Our conference focused on public policies influencing equitable outcomes for students; how social-emotional learning and trauma-informed care are essential strategies to addressing achievement gaps; and finally, how educator preparation programs must engage in the equity conversation to affect student outcomes across the state.

I was so excited to bring Dr. Emdin to our conference where he was able to share his research and pedagogical practice with educators and education leaders from across the state. Chris made quite the impression on our conference attendees who shared their enthusiasm for #HipHopEd and #EdEquityVA all over social media. Many superintendents and school division leaders expressed appreciation.

While our work to advance education equity across the state continues, we have a new spark in our step thanks to Chris’ thoughtful keynote and ongoing support of our work. Kudos to LMR and Robins Foundation for bringing this outstanding scholar and practitioner to our attention!

Leah Dozier Walker, MPA
Director, Office of Equity and Engagement
Division of School Quality, Equity, and Instruction
Virginia Department of Education

A Growing Community of Collaboration

Leadership Metro Richmond (LMR) is proud once again to partner with the Valentine and the Capital Region Collaborative to select and honor Richmond History Makers. This partnership began in 2005 and continues to this day as an excellent example of community collaboration.

I am pleased to co-chair the Selection Committee with Mary Brown (LMR ‘14). This will be our second year to lead this process. We are fortunate and energized to work with our partners on this project – our CEO, Myra Smith (LMR ‘06), and Bill Martin (LMR ‘07 – best class ever!), Director of the Valentine.

Now, back to the word ‘collaboration.’ It’s a word we use frequently in the non-profit sector. It’s not a new idea or the latest trend in effective management. But, it’s a word that is taking on a new meaning in our regional community.

I (and many others) think we are at the beginning of a peak of public collaboration. The Mayor of the City of Richmond has created a new beginning with other jurisdictions. City officials are working more closely with appointed and elected officials in the counties of Henrico, Chesterfield, Goochland, and Hanover. Challenges in our community know no geographic bounds. For example, the East End of Richmond combats the same challenges as Eastern Henrico. Both areas need better school facilities and academic support, both need affordable and sustainable housing, and both need access to good jobs that pay a living wage.

Many of these issues require significant and long-term funding. Housing and schools are complex issues that require a mix of public and private funding. I am honored to work for the Community Foundation for a greater Richmond. We work closely with other funders - for example, the Robins Foundation and Richmond Memorial Health Foundation. Local foundations are collaborating with corporate funders – Altria, Bank of America, CarMax, and Genworth are among the many corporate leaders in this partnership.

Our regional nonprofit organizations are collaborating in exciting and efficient new ways. Silos of programming and activity are not as effective as solutions that address the multiple layers of needs for an at-risk child or adult in our community. CARITAS addresses both substance abuse and preparing adults for the workforce by collaborating with health providers and local employers. The Better Housing Coalition tackles both the need for affordable housing and an enhanced quality of life; as an example, their work involves partnership with the Children’s Home Society as they house young adults who are moving from the foster system to independent living. And, NextUp provides after-school activities for hundreds of middle school students in the City of Richmond. Their work involves collaborating on service delivery with approximately 35 other nonprofits, such as ART180, Blue Sky, the YMCA, and Communities in Schools.

Collaborators are front-runners for recognition, at least in my opinion. Think about this as you consider making a nomination for the History Maker Award, due by October 22. Please visit the History Makers website to learn more about the award categories, as well past recipients, many of whom are highly collaborative LMR graduates. The event will be held on March 12, 2019, at Virginia Union University.

Please join in this process or attend the event so that you too can participate in the growing collaboration in our region.

Scott Blackwell
Chief Community Engagement Officer
Community Foundation for a greater Richmond
LMR Class of 2007

A Bridge into Board Service

Recently, I celebrated my 15-year LMR class reunion. I and many of my classmates gathered to reminisce about our time together during the Fall of 2002 and Spring of 2003.  I was one of two classmates on the agenda asked to share how the experience had shaped us.

I pointed out how prior to LMR, I had no board service.  My classmate, Lee Reeves, was the Executive Director of a very successful nonprofit he started called Team UP Richmond.  During our graduation ceremony back then, Lee asked if I would serve on his board. I shared with him my reservations about having no prior board experience, but Lee said “Ken, you'll be fine”. That exchange started my career of servant leadership in the Richmond non-profit community and beyond.

Soon thereafter, Rita Ricks (LMR ’89), who had recommended LMR to me, also recommended me for the Board of the Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce; known today as ChamberRVA.  Rita later shared that when she originally mentioned my name, the leadership of the Chamber indicated that they had no idea who I was.  But once she stated I had just completed LMR, their eyes widened, and I was welcomed to the board.

Several other boards soon followed as news of my status as an LMR alumnus made the rounds.  Such that, when the then President of Old Dominion University nominated me to serve on the Board of my alma mater, there was plenty of board experience on my resume.  Appointment to the Board of Visitors of ODU by Governor Warner was the first of now 5 gubernatorial appointments.  Since 2003, in all, I’ve served on 20 boards; and have turned down numerous others in light of my day job.

LMR is the place where I learned the principles of facilitation and collaboration; where I learned a greater understanding of social issues of the Richmond region; and where I was first exposed to the concept of servant leadership.  All of these traits have become the foundation for my years of community involvement at a leadership level.  Participation in THE BEST CLASS EVER instilled the desire in me to leave the world a better place then how I found it.  John F. Kennedy once said, “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other”.  Thanks to LMR, we learn how to lead.

Ken Ampy, Astyra Corporation
LMR Class of 2003

From Immersion to Action

Maggie Walker Community Land Trust as a Solution to Neighborhood Gentrification

Many LMR Quest alumni no doubt recall that initial seminar day when participants first broke out into their “immersion groups” to analyze and report on a topic of general interest to the region.  Confronted with such broad subjects as “transportation” or “housing”, the first step was narrowing to something manageable.  As wet-behind-the-ears members of the (best!) Class of 2016, our group tackled the housing topic by drilling down on a very specific but innovative solution being brought to bear on the expansive affordable housing challenge our region faced.  The specific challenge was gentrification, i.e. the pricing out of existing residents due to rising home values, and the potential solution was the use of a “community land trust.”  Here, we figured, was something innovative worth spotlighting to our classmates.  We never could have predicted how quickly this nascent idea would blossom into one of the region’s most potent tools for affordable homebuying!

Since the last census, many neighborhoods across RVA have undergone growth and revitalization.  While this is good news, it can produce the side effect of placing an increased burden on existing residents.  Our rising rents and home purchase prices have decreased the supply of affordable housing, which is struggling to keep pace.  In the context of homebuying, a common affordability solution is to provide grants or forgivable/low-interest loans.  One limitation to this approach is that the benefit must be replicated each time a property changes hands, as there is no longer-term protection to preserve affordability, or more importantly, to prevent displacement.

The concept of a community land trust takes a different approach.  The CLT is typically a non-profit that acquires land and either constructs or rehabilitates homes in neighborhoods confronting a dramatic rise in property values.  When a CLT home is “sold” to a qualifying homebuyer for an affordable price, the CLT retains ownership of the land and imposes restrictions on the future sale of the property, including a resale formula that ensures future affordability on each successive sale.  This ensures that the benefit of the affordability is passed on into the future.

Around the same time as our Quest immersion research in 2016, a group of affordable housing thought-leaders convened to explore a possible CLT in RVA.  This effort stemmed in part from the seminal 2015 Housing the Richmond Region Report by the Partnership for Housing Affordability, closely affiliated with the Richmond Association of Realtors and its CEO, Laura Lafayette.  This group leveraged the expertise and commitment of pillars in the non-profit affordable housing community such as Metropolitan Richmond Habitat for Humanity, project:HOMES, and others, to strategize how to implement a CLT for this region.  Soon the Maggie Walker Community Land Trust was born!

What began as a glimmer of an idea has over time become an important tool in the effort to preserve affordability in neighborhoods undergoing acute home value appreciation.  The organization started small, beginning with the acquisition of a single parcel and groundbreaking on its construction of a new home in Church Hill on June 5, 2017.  Today, the MWCLT expects to acquire over fifty properties a year for the next several years.  There are several essential ingredients to the immediate success of the organization.

  • Controlling Acquisition/Construction Costs. For the model to succeed, the CLT must have an inexpensive means of acquiring land and constructing or rehabilitating residences.  Thanks to a partnership with the City of Richmond, the MWCLT has been designated as a land bank for the City’s formerly tax delinquent and City-owned vacant properties, offering an important pipeline of properties without the burden of significant acquisition costs.  This innovate approach marks the first combined CLT and land bank in the nation.  Likewise, partnerships with Habitat and Project:HOMES provide an affordable means of securing quality rehabilitation and construction on these parcels.
  • Funding Partners. Private partners such as the Virginia Credit Union and Bon Secours have provided essential support in the form of unrestricted operating funds to facilitate the acquisitions and construction, as well as other support.  Over the long term, cultivating a dedicated group of corporate and individual support will remain critical.
  • Professional Expertise. Since its inception, the MWCLT has relied upon the indispensable strategic guidance of HDAdvisors, its president, Bob Adams, and his team, who have set the organization on a path for sustainability.  Similarly, the MWCLT brought on Nikki D’Amado-Damery to serve as Community Coordinator, with an office located in Church Hill, one of the organization’s priority neighborhoods.

While our immersion group cannot claim any special impact on the MWCLT’s early efforts, our goal was to illuminate to our peers the depth of the gentrification challenge and the unrealized potential we saw in the CLT model.  The implementation of that model, which has expanded from Church Hill to Randolph to even 9 homes in Chesterfield, offers a compelling solution to a vexing problem facing many in our community.  While much remains to be done, the MWCLT and its partners deserve to be recognized as innovative leaders in the fight to preserve housing affordability in greater Richmond.

For more information about the Maggie Walker Community Land Trust, please visit their website at

Preston Lloyd, Williams Mullen
Class of 2016

Joining Forces for Tomorrow’s Leaders

As I take a moment to reflect on my career path, I am thankful for the opportunities that I have received. Opportunities to grow, try new things, and step out of my comfort zone. Throughout my formative years and into college, there was always an adult “pouring into my life.” My family cheered me on from the sidelines and my mentors gave me that extra push. As you think about your career, can you name the mentor(s) who encouraged you?

If you were able to name at least one person who served as your mentor/coach, consider yourself lucky. Unfortunately, not every person in their developmental years has the chance to cultivate relationships with instrumental figures like mentors. That reality led to Partnership for the Future (PFF) and Leadership Metro Richmond joining forces to help our future workforce. Founded in 1994, PFF began as a college access organization with the focus on preparing students with limited resources for the college process. Fast forward to 2014, PFF realized that we needed to ensure that our students were persisting through, graduating from college, and finding meaningful work experiences…that’s where LMR comes in.

The COACHES RVA program was created to help PFF students build their network of individuals who can help guide them through important transitions into adulthood. COACHES have been instrumental in assisting students with life challenges. For instance, a PFF graduate was recently faced with a severe situation where her lack of confidence (stemming from abandonment issues) and a lack of familial support led to her inability to focus on her school work. Ultimately, this student was placed on academic probation and forced to leave campus without a place to go. While PFF did all that we could for this bright student, it was the LMR Coach who had the biggest impact in connecting her with resources outside of college, helping her find a job and a place to stay, and even reengaging the college (since it was the Coach’s alma mater). Thanks to the diligence of this wonderful Coach, this young lady recently returned to school and now has another identified mentor on her campus. It is because of this Coach, that this young lady will be able to finish her college degree and create a better life for herself.

While not every coaching story will sound like this one, it is important to understand that you serving as a mentor, coach, and door opener can make all of the difference. You can help our region by ensuring that our next generation of talented leaders are connected to the right people locally and developed for further greatness. Mentor a child and become a part of the army of leaders working for the greater good of our young people.

Charleita Richardson
LMR Class of 2008