Dear friends,

It’s hard to believe that a year ago, many of us in the social change sector were getting together and talking about: Now what? What would a change in administration and policies mean for those working in community and social change? And most important for our constituents—often the most vulnerable in our society—what would changes in healthcare, fiscal policy, tax policy, immigration policy and other areas mean?

Like many of you, we realized that new times would require new solutions.

At JVA, we decided to use the platform we have to talk about these issues and increase understanding.

  • We converted our monthly Nonprofit Meetup to Conversations that Matter about policy changes. And many of you participated in these conversations as panelists and contributors—thank you for sharing your expertise and understanding, and for encouraging us all to consider diverse points of view.
  • We started our Changemakers blog, highlighting some of our clients who were going above and beyond with creative solutions to address some of the most compelling issues in our community, and challenging the status quo.
  • And with you, we coalesced, collaborated and contributed to causes that advance our values.

And our team members at JVA did what they do best: hunker down and use their smarts and creativity to help our clients overcome challenges, assess the environment, develop strategies, plan new ways of generating revenue, secure new sources of funding for critical work, and evaluate and communicate the impact of their work.

In 2017, we completed 262 projects for 84 clients, all working for community and social change. Our annual report highlights some of these accomplishments.


With this strong team in place and its demonstrated ability to partner with our clients to obtain significant results, I am confident and excited about JVA’s future and, as of today, will be stepping away from the day-to-day management of JVA. It’s been a terrific and rewarding 30 years—coming to work every day knowing that I could work with you and other changemakers—all trying to make the world a better place.

I’m so proud to announce the appointment of the two women who will be managing JVA: Jill Iman, Ph.D., who has been managing our research and evaluation department, and Sarah Hidey, MBA, who has been managing our grants and resource development efforts. If you haven’t had the opportunity to work with either one of them, let me share a bit about them.

  •  Jill joined JVA over four years ago from Senator Michael Bennet’s office, where she was working on policy advocacy across the state. Several clients had suggested that I meet with her, and I was thrilled they did. Since she joined us, Jill has brought her remarkable strategic and analytic skills to help our clients—and JVA—become better at assessing what constituents think, applying the latest science to our work, and measuring the impact of our work. Her carefully designed and expertly executed research lead to actionable reports that inform policy and program development and strategic planning. She has worked with me closely across the range of our clients, from grassroots groups to foundations, from emerging social enterprises to complex government entities, and is always not only a superb consultant and project manager with high expectations of herself and the teams she leads, but also a friend and champion. You can read more about Jill here.
  • Sarah first joined us in 2011 as a member of our grants team following a career as a program officer for an international nonprofit and then as a grants manager for a large Denver nonprofit focused on homelessness. When we learned more about Sarah’s interest and background in business planning and social enterprise, she quickly took that on as well, establishing JVA’s first Social Enterprise Basecamp and helping several of our clients take the leap from charity only to earned income. After four years, Sarah left for a tour of round-the-world travel, starting her own social enterprise and serving as interim executive director for an international nonprofit. This spring, Sarah returned to JVA, serving as the project manager with two of our largest clients, then managing the resource development team. Sarah and I share strengths on Strengths Finder—Futuristic and Activator—and our book lists are often the same: nonfiction focused on the most pressing social issues. You can read more about Sarah here.

It’s because of Jill and Sarah’s strong and complementary strengths that I know I can step away to pursue another passion of mine in the area of community and social change. And know that all of you—who have become trusted friends and colleagues—will be in great hands.

Adam Brock, who has been leading our social enterprise work, will now be directing our strategic and business planning efforts as well. Christy Bergman will continue to serve as a key liaison to clients as well as consult on board and donor engagement in her role as chief engagement officer.

We also brought on five new team members this year who have added significant capacity and bandwidth to all areas of our work:

  • Silvia Solis, a native of Mexico with a master’s in communications from New York University, who has used her bilingual and bicultural skills to help our clients better research and understand perceptions and perspectives among Spanish-speaking and hard-to-reach groups.
  • Sharon Trujillo, an encore careerist who has used the skills she developed over decades of serving as an executive assistant to five Denver mayors to coordinate the scheduling and logistics of hundreds of interviews and focus groups.
  • Sandy Wiegand, who joined our team as a full-time editor, brings over two decades of experience as a journalist, editor and report writer.
  • Katalin Wishart, who like Lisa Cirincione and me believes that legal skills are a great background for writing successful grant proposals, joined us as a senior grantwriting associate.
  • Encore careerist Sandra Harris Howard, who first worked with JVA as a trainer two decades ago, will be joining us full-time this month as a senior facilitator and trainer; she brings over three decades of nonprofit and government leadership experience to our team.

They have joined the team who have helped so many of you on grants, evaluation, strategic planning, marketing and communications and more: Lisa Cirincione, Erin Shaver, Collin Lessing, Amanda Roberts, Aaron Schonhoff, Nora Welch, Alaine Anderson, Rolfe Larson, Marshall Vanderburg and Stella Carrasco.

As I’m reflecting back on these three decades, I’m humbled that you were a part of JVA’s success. Thank you for believing in me and in JVA, and for the substantial work you’ve done to make our community a better place. I look forward to hearing about all the amazing work you accomplish in the coming years and trust that JVA will continue to provide you with the support to help make your journey possible.

I’ll be in touch soon with my next adventure. Meanwhile, wishing you all the best for an amazing 2018!

With much gratitude,