Alumni Spotlight


Alumni Spotlights



Amy Nisenson, Class of 2006

Wanda Jeffress

What is new and exciting with you now or since your LEAD VIRGINIA class year?

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 year?

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 experiences.