Amy Nisenson, Class of 2006
What is new and exciting with you now or since your LEAD VIRGINIA class
Since my LEAD VIRGINIA experience in 2006, I have changed jobs and am
currently working in two roles as the Executive Director of the Mary Morton
Parsons Foundation and in a consultative role to small and emerging
nonprofits in the Richmond area. The Mary Morton Parsons Foundation
provides financial support principally for capital projects for organizations in
the Commonwealth of Virginia exempt from taxation under the Internal Revenue Code. As Executive
Director, I am responsible for the day to day operations of the $85 million foundation and the due
diligence and allocation of $3-4 million in grants annually. In my consultation business, I offer a variety
of services business including strategic planning, group facilitation, board development, and resource
development and fundraising. In addition, I offer consultation in the area of corporate community
engagement, working to develop community engagement strategies and programs that support and
further business objectives.
I am also fortunate to have the opportunity to teach classes in nonprofit management including grant
writing, navigating support from corporations and foundations, and board development at the
University of Richmond in the Institute on Philanthropy, University of Virginia Tidewater Community
College Academy for Nonprofit Excellence, Virginia Commonwealth University Nonprofit Learning Point,
Network Williamsburg, and Volunteer Hampton Roads.
How did your LEAD VIRGINIA experience help to shape you as a leader?
My experience in LEAD VIRGINIA helped me to connect with people across the Commonwealth that I
probably would not have connected with otherwise. In addition, LEAD VIRGINIA has helped to educate
me about the areas of the Commonwealth, outside of the Richmond area. This helps me immensely in
my role at The Mary Morton Parsons Foundation as we often fund capital projects throughout the
Commonwealth. LEAD VIRGINIA also helped educate me about issues I was not very well-versed in,
especially transportation and economic development. Having grown up in the Tidewater area, I was
aware of the importance of the ports but LEAD VIRGINIA really brought home the issue and the
importance of the traffic and road issues. I also have become more aware of these issues and their
importance in the rest of the Commonwealth.
Since LEAD VIRGINIA, how have you put social capital to work?
LEAD VIRGINIA has made me more aware of the importance of having an active voice in state and local
government. Since my class year, I have had the opportunity to become a more active volunteer with
issues around early childhood and organizations such as The Virginia Early Childhood Foundation, Smart
Beginnings, and The United Way of Greater Richmond and Petersburg. I also have taken leadership roles
in some of the nonprofits that I serve on the Board of such as Leadership Metro Richmond, The
Partnership for Nonprofit Excellence, and The United Way Women’s Leadership Initiative as part of the United Way in Richmond. Finally, I have attended LEAD VIRGINIA events in Richmond and keep in touch
with many of my classmates.
What is something that LEAD VIRGINIA inspired you to do that you were not doing before your class
LEAD VIRGINIA inspired me to serve on a statewide board—The Virginia College Savings Plan. I was
appointed by Governor McDonnell in 2010. LEAD VIRGINIA also inspired me to return to many of the
regions of the Commonwealth that I briefly visited during my class year. My husband and I have
travelled back to the Shenandoah Region, the Southside, Northern Virginia, and other places and it has
been great to look at these areas through a different lens than I may have prior to my LEAD VIRGINIA