October Meeting Recap

Great Discussion at October Roundtable

First a huge thanks to Rodney Lofton from Diversity Richmond for welcoming us into a friendly venue and giving us an overview of the many programs and resources available to the LGBTQ+ community through the organization.

We also learned that the highly successful Diversity Thrift store makes it possible for the organization to offer grants to other nonprofits.

Updates on professional development shared by members:

  • Whitney Guthrie has been accepted into the Emerging Nonprofit Leaders Program.
  • Sheryl Luebke attended a conference on Palliative Care which brought together hospital and hospice care workers and volunteers.
  • Kate Bausman participated in a FEMA volunteer management program.
  • Terence Barber, a new member of GRAVA, discussed what a great resource GRAVA has been in his professional development.

We were still buzzing about the amazing presentation on “Creating an Inclusive Environment” by Jonathan Zur, President and CEO of Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities (VCIC).  Tawana Demery and Melissa Daniel Gilmore kept the momentum of the discussion going by briefly recapping that presentation and using a discussion group format to encourage all of our volunteer professionals to chime in.

Melissa reminded all to examine your own lens, ask tough questions, and acknowledge the role of institutional bias.  Both she and Tamara encouraged the group to watch the TED Talk featuring Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie which points out “The danger of a single story.”

Tawana provided a relevant anecdote about a simple conversation in a car on the way to a luncheon broke down longstanding coolness between her and a co-worker when they were able to frankly share information about their different cultural backgrounds.

With chocolate in our hands courtesy of our leaders, we broke into four groups for animated discussion of these 4 questions:

  1. What areas of diversity are most challenging for your organization?
  2. What is keeping you from being as effective as you want to be in addressing prejudice?
  3. What are some actions that you can take to foster greater inclusion and equity in your organization?
  4. What do you need others to do to foster greater inclusion and equity in your organization?

Thanks to Melissa and Tawana for leading the discussion, to Jen Miller for helping to procure this great meeting space, and as always, to Kate Bausman for a delicious breakfast. See you November 3 for a special International Volunteer Management celebration!

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President’s Message for October 2016

van-morrison“Bright Side of the Road” by Van Morrison is a classic. One of the lyrics is “Let’s enjoy it while we can. Help me share my load, from the dark end of the street to the bright side of the road.” Think about our jobs as volunteer managers and advocates of volunteers. We are always striving and helping to “share the load” for our organizations by connecting volunteers to meaningful work. We know we can “enjoy it while we can” if volunteers are placed in assignments where they feel they are making an impact. When we have done a solid job of recruiting and screening volunteers we are on the “Bright Side of the Road.”

We have learned in our last two GRAVA sessions the importance of being intentionally inclusive. Our presenter, Jonathan Zur, challenged us to ask tough questions and to recognize that it’s hard to be intentionally inclusive because there’s so much that we don’t know, that we don’t know. We can “help share the load” by examining our own lens, asking tough questions and acknowledging the role of institutional bias. Start to have conversations about diversity and inclusiveness with the leaders of your organization. If we all start to do this, we will move from the “dark end of the street to the bright side of the road!”

If you missed the October Roundtable, please pick up a Diversity Organizational Audit Checklist when you check in at the November meeting. This checklist is a way for all of us to begin to “share the load” in regards to diversity and inclusion.

Make plans now to attend the IVM Day meeting on Thursday, November 3rd. It is going to be quite the celebration!

Hope to see you there.

Melissa M. Gilmore, M Ed., CVA
GRAVA President

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Location change for October Roundtable

silver-diversityrichmondPlease note: our October Roundtable on October 6 has been moved to Diversity Richmond (1407 Sherwood Avenue, Richmond VA 23220.)

We apologize for any inconvenience, but couldn’t be more excited about the alignment between our location and our topic.

Thanks to Diversity Richmond for hosting us!

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Professional Development Update

peer2peer mentoring.png

GRAVA’s Peer to Peer Mentoring Program (formerly known as the Buddy Program) works to match members in pairs or small groups for regular problem solving sessions.  Peers meet for a calendar year on a monthly basis, to discuss topics relevant to their needs.  Please email Brynn Markham, our Professional Development Chair, with the following information:  Name; Organization; Topics of Interest.  We ask that both current participants wishing to continue and those looking to join a group for the first time please email us, as participation over the summer months tends to wane.  As fall approaches, we hope to reignite and add members to existing groups, as well as start new groups where the need presents itself.  Kindly submit your information by September 30th, so we can begin to group members together accordingly.


Scholarship Application Deadline is October 31st

GRAVA’s current scholarship cycle closes on October 31st.  The next cycle will not open until January 1st.  If you’ve been interested in participating in any professional development related to your role in Volunteer Management and would like to apply for assistance with the costs of doing so, this is your chance.

Click HERE for more information and/or to apply.

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September Program Recap


At our September meeting, we learned from Jonathan Zur, President and CEO of Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities (VCIC).

He challenged us to be intentionally inclusive by (1) examining your own lens, (2) asking and encouraging tough questions, and (3) acknowledging the role of institutional bias. Jonathan began by asking participants to share the meaning of their name and how they respond when their name is mispronounced. We learned that our names are an important entry point into beginning to understand each other. Jonathan explained that many feel pressure to downplay parts of their identify to fit into the mainstream, and he warned us that the problem with stereotypes is not that they’re not true, but that they are incomplete. He encouraged us to watch an excellent TED talk by novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, The danger of a single story, to continue learning.

Jonathan challenged us to ask tough questions and to recognize that it’s hard to be intentionally inclusive because there’s so much that we don’t know, that we don’t know. There may be institutional practices that we do not realize are pushing some people up and some people down. He suggested an audit of your organization’s practices, looking at language, physical environment, traditions and policies. There is a comprehensive Toolkit for Serving Diverse Communities available from the U.S. Administration on Aging as a PDF here.   Jonathan invited us to proudly display “This is an inclusive place” decals provided by VCIC and include #inclusiveplace in our social media posts. Visit www.inclusiveva.org for additional resources, and view the slides from Jonathan’s inspiring and thought-provoking presentation!

Thank you to Kathy Morton and Westminster Canterbury for hosting us in their beautiful facility.


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NOTICE: September 22 member mixer has been postponed

Please note that the September 22 “Become a Member in September” mixer has been postponed. We are searching for a new time later in the fall that accommodates more members – looking forward to connecting then!

In the meantime, be sure to register for our October 6 Roundtable building on our discussion of diversity and inclusion with Jonathan Zur.

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President’s Message for September 2016

prex-message“Where You Lead” by Carole King is a favorite of mine.  She states, “Where you lead, I will follow” and how true is that when it comes to volunteer administration?!  We need to make sure we are leaders in the field of volunteerism.  We want our volunteers to be motivated to “follow our lead” and to inspire others to do the same.

When does someone stop becoming a manager and start becoming a leader? This topic is a highly contentious debate in the field.  Leaders and managers are complementary but they have different processes. Typically, though, their functions overlap.  Managers are about stability and leaders are about change. Leaders inspire people to think about what’s possible.  Those who inspire us to “lead and we will follow” set vision, influence us, interpret information, create commitment to goals and are people oriented.

Leadership and professional development go hand in hand and it is my honor to be on this journey with you all.  I hope to see you at the GRAVA Social and if not there, at the October Roundtable,

Melissa M. Gilmore, M Ed., CVA
GRAVA President

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