Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation Supports North Carolina’s Nonprofit Leaders Investing $3 million in a sabbatical program for nonprofit leaders for 26 years

Announcements, News

The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation is pleased to announce the 2016 recipients of its Sabbatical program.

Since 1990, the Foundation has honored North Carolina’s nonprofit leaders for their dedicated service and commitment to the sector by awarding up to five sabbaticals per year. Established as one of the first of its kind, the Sabbatical program is intended to provide veteran nonprofit leaders with an extended break from work that allows time to focus on their personal needs, growth and self-revitalization so that they can return to their organizations with a rejuvenated spirit and renewed sense of focus. Recipients are encouraged to spend up to six months engaging in activities that interest them and that are unrelated to their field of work. Since the program’s inception, the Foundation has invested $3 million in the Sabbatical program and provided awards to more than 130 nonprofit leaders.

“It is such an inspiration to learn about the commitment of nonprofit leaders who are dedicated to improving the quality of life for the people and communities they serve across the great state of North Carolina,” said Jane Patterson, Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation trustee and chair of the Sabbatical committee. “This program is important to ensuring that we retain strong leadership within the nonprofit sector – a sector that provides 400,000 jobs across North Carolina. Our hope is that time away will provide these leaders with what they need to come back refreshed and ready to work on behalf of the residents of our state.”

“The most creative and inspirational leaders in the nonprofit sector are extremely committed to the work they do,” said Maurice “Mo” Green, executive director of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation. “Because of this selfless dedication, they can reach a point of burnout, where they have completely expended their personal energy. A break allows them time to re-energize in order to return to work with fresh ideas and newfound momentum, making the sabbatical not only beneficial to the recipient, but also to the staff, board and communities they serve.”

This year’s recipients are:

  • Tayuanee Dewberry, Executive Director of Right Moves for Youth (Charlotte, NC)
  • Robin Emmons, Founder and Executive Director of Sow Much Good (Charlotte, NC)
  • Nancy Gottovi, Executive Director of Central Park NC /STARworks Center (Star, NC)
  • Robin Merrell, Managing Attorney for Pisgah Legal Services (Asheville, NC)
  • Cynthia Marie Penn Halal, Executive Director of Walltown Children's Theatre (Durham, NC)

Eligibility for a sabbatical is limited to individuals in paid, full-time executive level positions with a North Carolina based nonprofit, who have served in their organizations for at least three years (two of which in an executive level position). Preference is given to individuals with at least five years of experience with their organization. This program is not intended for public school, college, university or government employees, hospital administrators and full-time clergy. The Foundation has increased financial support of the program to make it easier for individuals of organizations to apply. Also, sabbaticals, which have been offered annually, will now be offered bi-annually. 2018 will be the next year leaders can apply.

Profiles of the 2016 recipients are below:

For the past eight years, Tayuanee Dewberry has served as executive director of Right Moves for Youth – a Charlotte-based organization focused on providing the resources and guidance to help students graduate with a plan for their future success. One colleague stated that Tayuanee is a “conscientious, dedicated professional who has had remarkable impact on the organization she leads” and that “under Tayuanee’s leadership, the agency completely transformed from its grassroots beginnings to become an effective, outcomes-driven, sustainable nonprofit that is highly respected in the Charlotte community.” Tayuanee’s responsibilities include, but are not limited to: developing short and long-term programmatic, organizational and financial plans as well as creating, maintaining and sustaining relationships with corporate/civic groups, educational institutions and other collaborative partners.

Robin Emmons is founder and executive director of Sow Much Good – an organization that is committed to growing healthy communities in underserved neighborhoods by: providing direct access to fresh, affordable food; educating and engaging residents to adopt healthy eating habits; and advocating

for the right of every person to have real food security. One colleague says that “Robin has worked tirelessly to ensure that residents in some of Charlotte’s most impoverished communities have access to healthy food. Under her leadership Sow Much Good has expanded its work to provide access not only to food, but also to economic and social empowerment opportunities.” And that “Robin has been a beacon of light and life in Charlotte for the last seven years. She continually operates with the highest levels of integrity. Her work escalates community conversations, empowers community residents and changes community outcomes.” Robin’s responsibilities include, but are not limited to: fundraising, handling media and public relations and managing daily operations.

For the past 10 years, Nancy Gottovi has served as executive director of Central Park NC/STARworks Center. The mission of Central Park NC is to grow a new local economy based on the sustainable use of the region’s cultural and natural resource assets. One colleague stated, “Nancy and her team introduced to the leadership of the region a new economic development model. It was a localism that taught how to use the things you have to make yourself a job; a job that meets and satisfies a market need within the region, as well as lending itself to exporting surpluses. Her efforts toward overcoming bias and creating a working model of how this new economy could be created, have been nothing less than phenomenal.” Nancy’s responsibilities include, but are not limited to: overseeing the organization’s annual budget, managing a staff of 15 and three nonprofit small business enterprises as well as writing and managing various federal, state and private foundation grants.

Robin Merrell is the managing attorney for Pisgah Legal Services – an organization that seeks to pursue justice by providing legal assistance and advocacy to help low-income people in Western North Carolina meet their basic needs and improve their lives. Colleagues describe Robin as “extremely committed to the mission and goals of Pisgah Legal Services, many times sacrificing her own wants and needs.” For eight of 15 years with Pisgah Legal Services, Robin has had responsibility of overseeing, hiring, training and supervising individual employees as well as working with a management team to shape, prioritize and implement program growth and development. She also works to secure funding, sets goals, monitors progress, reports to funding sources, and manages the organization’s intake and screening system, which is responsible for collecting information about 10,000 people per year.

Cynthia Marie Penn Halal is founder and executive director of the Walltown Children’s Theatre – an organization that inspires positive social change by empowering and reconnecting young people from diverse cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds, creating a new expression of community, and enriching their lives and those of their families and communities, through exemplary performing arts instruction and youth development programming. In talking about Cynthia, colleagues say “her passion for dance and love of other art forms has been a source of strength and inspiration to many young people and their families who, because of their financial means, might not have had the opportunity to be exposed to the level of artistic instruction she provides.” And “Cynthia’s efforts at Walltown in reaching out to all communities in Durham, and particularly to communities of color, is singular.” In addition to working with the Theatre’s board, Cynthia’s responsibilities include, but are not limited to: financial management of the organization, providing programmatic leadership, assisting with administrative functions, processing payroll, and coordinating use, management and maintenance of facilities.