The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation (ZSR) is pleased to announce the recipients of its 2020 Sabbatical Program. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Foundation’s Sabbatical Program.
Since 1990, the Foundation has honored North Carolina’s nonprofit leaders for their dedicated service and commitment to the sector by awarding sabbaticals. Since the program’s inception, ZSR has invested more than $3 million in the Sabbatical Program and provided sabbaticals to 149 nonprofit leaders. Up to five sabbaticals, which had previously been offered annually until 2016, are now offered every other year. In 2016, the Foundation also increased financial support to assist organizations with planning and transition expenses.
Established as one of the first of its kind, ZSR’s Sabbatical Program is intended to provide veteran nonprofit leaders across the state 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 three to six months engaging in activities that interest them and that are unrelated to their field of work.
“It is such an inspiration to hear stories and learn more about the incredible commitment of so many nonprofit leaders across our state,” said Jane S. Patterson, Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation Trustee and chair of the Sabbatical committee. “The Foundation’s Sabbatical Program is not only intended to ensure that we retain strong leadership within the nonprofit sector, but also provide nonprofit leaders with what they need to return to their organizations feeling refreshed, renewed and ready to work on behalf of the residents of North Carolina.”
“Many leaders of the nonprofit sector are dedicated, selfless and extremely driven,” said Maurice “Mo” Green, executive director of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation. “Often times, however, because of this commitment, they can reach a point where they have completely expended their personal energy. This time away allows them the opportunity to reenergize and refocus so they can come back to work with fresh ideas and newfound momentum. Our hope is that this program not only benefits the recipients, but also benefits the staff, the board and the communities they are working alongside.”
This year’s recipients are:
- Barbara C. Blackston, executive director of Wilson Community Improvement Association, Inc. (Wilson, NC)
- Chris Dunn, executive director of Arts Council of Moore County (Southern Pines, NC)
- Telinda (Lin) G. Forney, executive director of Pigeon Community Multicultural Development Center (Waynesville, NC)
- Cat B. Le, director of Southeast Asian Coalition (Charlotte, NC)
- Pilar Rocha-Goldberg, executive director of El Centro Hispano, Inc. (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 are 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. 2021 will be the next year leaders can apply with sabbaticals being awarded in 2022.
Profiles of the 2020 recipients are below:
For the past 19 years, Barbara Blackston has served as executive director of Wilson Community Improvement Association, Inc., an organization that works to build and support stable, safe and economically viable neighborhoods across Wilson, North Carolina. Barbara is described by one colleague as an “outstanding motivator and mentor” whose “employees are always inspired and prepared to meet new challenges because of her management and leadership style.” Some of Barbara’s work responsibilities include, but are not limited to: managing the organization’s finances, personnel administration and programs, as well as overseeing short- and long-term strategic planning. Barbara has worked in the North Carolina nonprofit sector for 51 years.
For 18 years, Chris Dunn has served as executive director of the Arts Council of Moore County, an organization that’s mission is to inspire and strengthen the community through the arts. A colleague of Chris’ says, “under his leadership, the Arts Council has garnered a stellar reputation and our programs have expanded in number and reach throughout Moore County.” Some of Chris’ work responsibilities include, but are not limited to: managing the operations of the Arts Council of Moore County as well as setting the overall direction and culture the organization; working directly with staff, board, volunteers and the community; fundraising; and running specific programs of the Arts Council. Chris has worked in the North Carolina nonprofit sector for 25 years.
Described by one colleague as “the glue that holds the Pigeon [Community Multicultural Development Center] together,” for 10 years, Telinda (Lin) G. Forney has served as executive director of Pigeon Community Multicultural Development Center, an organization that’s mission is to strengthen harmony among the residents of its county and its communities. Lin’s work responsibilities include, but are not limited to: managing the administrative oversight of the organization while closely working with the board of directors to guide and support the mission of the organization; fundraising; grant writing; managing donors; overseeing program development; collaborating with other nonprofit organizations, local churches and businesses; and managing volunteers. Lin has worked in the North Carolina nonprofit sector for 17 years.
For nine years, Cat B. Le has been organizing in Charlotte, NC. In 2014, Cat officially established Southeast Asian Coalition (SEAC) as a nonprofit, where she serves as the founding director. SEAC is a social justice grassroots organization that cultivates grassroots power in Black and Brown communities. One colleague says, “the transformative work she [Cat] has done in North Carolina in such a short period of time is a testament to her power and potential.” Cat’s work responsibilities include, but are not limited to: directing organizing; creating internal and programmatic organizational principles; developing wellness and healing practices within the team; building and managing the fiscal and financial health of the organization; making staffing, structure, and resource decisions critical to the mission; creating programs and structures; and using deep campaign, power analysis, to help staff create and execute sharp campaign/frontline strategies. Cat has worked in the North Carolina nonprofit sector for nine years.
For 11 years, Pilar Rocha-Goldberg has served as executive director of El Centro Hispano, Inc., an organization that works to strengthen the community, build bridges, and advocate for equity and inclusion of Hispanics /Latinos in the Triangle area of North Carolina. One colleague says, “her [Pilar’s] dedication and commitment to our community is incomparable.” Pilar’s work responsibilities include, but are not limited to: providing direction and leadership to the organization; implementing strategic goals and objectives; ensuring the fiscal and legal responsibilities of El Centro Hispano; and advocating for the Latino community. Pilar has worked in the North Carolina nonprofit sector for 16 years.