New JVA Business Development Manager Says Role Offers Best of Both Worlds

By Sandy Wiegand, Copyeditor and Writer at Joining Vision and Action

JVA’s new business development manager, Katherine Jarvis, says she landed at JVA through a bit of serendipity. Having moved to Denver in July 2017, she was working remotely for a Chicago area company. Business associates would sometimes ask about her long-term goals. “My response was: I want to bring people together from different social sectors to address social issues,” Katherine says. JVA’s name kept popping up, so, although she knew of no open positions, she sent in her resume. That was serendipitous for JVA, as well.  

Katherine worked for five years for the nonprofit Nebraska Children’s Home Society (NCHS) before spending two years on the business development team at a company specializing in training consultation, project management and organizational change management. Like JVA, Briljent sprang from the vision of one woman. Also like JVA, both of Katherine’s previous employers “hired really talented people and trusted their expertise” to set goals and get things done. At Briljent, “if you are really passionate about a particular project, you can do it.”

As JVA’s business development manager, Katherine is excited to be able to combine the best aspects of both of her previous roles—the client engagement, problem solving and strategizing of business development and the satisfaction of working for a cause one believes in. The JVA position, she says, “allows me to use my passions and my talents.”

Learning the value of connections and community

Founded in 1893, NCHS began as an adoption agency and soon expanded to include foster care services. Eventually it added community-based services such as support for teen parents and grandparent guardians, as well as teen pregnancy prevention. The mission, “to provide safe and loving care to children of all ages,” supports people across the life span, Katherine says.

Working at NCHS brought home for her the interconnectedness of different types of care and assistance. In serving people who cared for children, the center served the children, too. In setting up parents for success, the organization helped ensure that their children would not need its foster services down the road. “It all sort of trickles down,” she says.

Among the achievements Katherine is most proud of is her role leading NCHS’ expansion and replication of an evidence-based program in four locations across Nebraska. Although the goal was to replicate the program with fidelity, as demonstrated by stringent evaluation, each community’s unique needs had to be taken into account, particularly with regard to promoting the program and working with partners. It was “really challenging and really rewarding.”

Later, at Briljent, Katherine worked on proposals to support systems training for state agencies, often on projects related to health and human services, including Medicaid. The learning curve was steep in a field combining technology and the intricacies of Medicaid. In spite of the field’s complexities, however, Katherine discovered it was still a small world.

“I would go to conferences, and everyone knows each other,” she says. “It reminded me of the nonprofit sector. That was relatable in a way that surprised me. There was a community feel.”

A song in her heart

When Katherine isn’t busy connecting with JVA’s clients, you might catch her singing and playing the ukulele at a local open mic.  Asked how long she’s been singing, she jokes, “My dad would say since before I could talk.” She started getting serious around middle school and took voice lessons and sang in chorus throughout college. She writes some of her own music but says her favorites to sing are by Patsy Cline. She and her friends even recorded an album and had it pressed to vinyl.

Check her out at the Corner Beet in Capitol Hill on Thursday evenings.