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ConnectVA Spotlight: Hal Waller, Head of School, Riverside School

Tell us about yourself.

I am Hal Waller, the Head of School at Riverside School. I was previously the Head of the Lower School at Veritas, and prior to that, the Chair of the English Department and Executive Director of the Foundation at Maggie Walker Governor’s School.

What is the focus of your work?

Riverside is a private, K-8 school for dyslexic students. We provide a specialized curriculum featuring one-on-one instruction that unlocks the potential of our students and allows them to return to mainstream education.

What do you find most rewarding about your work?

This may sound corny but seeing the smiles on the faces of our students each day is a tremendous reward. Many of our students come to us in crisis mode, having fallen behind their peers simply because they learn in a different way, and school is the last place they want to be. The turnaround that we, and their parents, see upon the student’s arrival at Riverside, is evident and often immediate.

What are some major challenges you have faced and how you handled them?

In the world of dyslexic education, Riverside is well-known and admired, but in the general Richmond community, I have found that not many people know of us. I don’t want Riverside to be a “hidden gem” anymore, so outreach and educating the public about our great program are definitely goals I am working toward.


What would someone be surprised to know about your organization?

Most private schools aim to retain their students, but our goal is to get them back to mainstream education as quickly as possible. The average time a student spends at Riverside is three years. We draw students from public and private schools in over 10 jurisdictions in Central Virginia.

Do you have any interesting initiatives or programs on the horizon?

Winter is a busy season for prospective families, and we have an Admissions Open House coming up on February 14 from 9 – 11 a.m. If anyone reading this knows a student who is struggling to read and that you think may have a language-based learning difference, join us to learn more about Riverside School and our programs. Get info here.

Is your organization involved in any exciting collaborations or partnerships?

Riverside’s teacher training program has served many educators in Central Virginia, equipping them with the systematic and proven approach we use to teach reading. We just completed our first training session for educators at a local juvenile correctional facility. The correlation between students with reading difficulties and those who get into trouble is unsurprisingly high. I would love to see this partnership continue and expand so that more kids who need this specialized education receive it.

How are you leveraging ConnectVA and the Community Foundation to achieve your mission?

First of all, thank you very much for this opportunity to share some information about our school. We are very appreciative of the Community Foundation’s past support of Riverside’s programs through grants, and we certainly hope to continue that partnership. We have also found ConnectVA to be an excellent source of qualified applicants when we are hiring.

Anything else you would like to share? 

Yes! Thanks to a partnership with our next-door neighbor St. Michael’s Church, we are leasing a building from the former campus of St. Michael’s School. We are so thankful and enthusiastic about this expansion into Ticer Hall, as it has allowed us to increase our enrollment to 80 students, the highest number in our 45-year history! It is truly an exciting time to be here at Riverside School, and I am grateful for every day with our amazing faculty and students.

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ConnectVA Spotlight: Cory Richardson-Lauve, Virginia Home for Boys and Girls

Tell us about yourself. Hi! I’m Cory Richardson-Lauve, and I’ve worked at the Virginia Home for Boys and Girls for fifteen years. Currently, I serve as the Vice President of Programs. Over the years I’ve been responsible for training, program evaluation, and human resources. Prior to that I worked as a case manager, staff supervisor, and in a direct care role with our youth in VHBG’s group homes. I also have experience as a classroom teacher. I graduated from the University of Virginia in 1996 with an undergraduate degree in English and master’s in Teaching.

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ConnectVA Spotlight: Gail Crawford, Making a Difference for You (MAD4YU)

Tell us about yourself. My name is Gail Crawford and I’m the President and Founder of Making a Difference for You (MAD4YU) Community Enrichment Resource Center.   I have been with Bank of America for 46 years and I have a background in Information Technology.  I have always had a desire to give back to the community and have volunteered throughout my years at Bank of America.  This desire to give back inspired the creation of MAD4YU.

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Great Nonprofit Awards Spotlight Part 1

Get to know a few of the finalists for YNPN RVA’s Great Nonprofit Awards, coming up on 11.7.18!  People and organizations will be recognized in 3 categories: Rising Star: A nonprofit professional with fewer than five years of career experience making significant contributions to the RVA nonprofit sector. Great Nonprofit Boss: A nonprofit manager who has gone above and beyond to promote a great work environment for their staff. Outstanding Organization: A great nonprofit organization that fosters a nurturing and empowering environment for young nonprofit professionals. The many nominations were scored by a panel of young nonprofit professionals from the YNPN RVA Leadership Team.  The winner in each category will be announced at the November 7th event.

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ConnectVA Spotlight: Jennifer Maddux, Director of Education, Richmond Performing Arts Alliance

Tell us about yourself. My name is Jennifer Maddux and I am the Director of Education at Richmond Performing Arts Alliance.  I received my undergraduate degree in Music Education/Voice at Shenandoah Conservatory and my masters degree in Educational Leadership at Virginia Commonwealth University.   I spent the majority of my career serving in Henrico County Public Schools getting my start as a chorus teacher at Byrd Middle School (now Quioccasin Middle School) and then transitioning into Instructional Technology at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. Most recently, I served in school leadership as an Associate Principal at both Short Pump Middle School and L. Douglas Wilder Middle School. I also have a passion for music theatre. In 2003, I took part in CAP21- a six-week intensive music theater program through New York University. Through the years, I’ve gotten the opportunity to perform with various local theater companies and directed at both public and private middle schools.

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ConnectVA Spotlight: David Kunnen, Executive Director, Blue Sky Fund

Tell us about yourself. My name is David Kunnen and I’m the Executive Director of Blue Sky Fund. I’m a recovering tax accountant who has worked in the nonprofit space in Richmond since 2005. I served the YMCA of Greater Richmond for 10 years, took a quick 12-month detour at The American Heart Association, and have been in my current role at Blue Sky Fund since September 2016.

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ConnectVA Spotlight: Ross Catrow, RVA Rapid Transit

Tell us about yourself. My name’s Ross Catrow, and I’m the staff person for RVA Rapid Transit, a local nonprofit focused on advocating, educating, and organizing for a frequent and far-reaching public transportation system in the Richmond region. Before taking a job advocating for better public transit, I ran a local news magazine called RVANews, and, today, run a daily newsletter called Good Morning, RVA.

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ConnectVA Spotlight: Scott Kocen, Virginia Voice

Tell us about yourself. My name is Scott Kocen and I’m the Development & Communications Director for Virginia Voice. I graduated from the George Washington University with a B.S. in Political Science and Psychology. I went to Graduate School at Virginia Commonwealth University for Sociology and have been fortunate enough to spend my career raising awareness and support for worthy causes in the political and nonprofit sectors.  I’m a lifelong Richmonder and have the pleasure of seeing the best our community has to offer and how it constantly evolves to showcase service, culture, and inclusion for everyone.

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ConnectVA Spotlight: Christina Manikus, Adult Education Programs Coordinator, Sacred Heart Center

Tell us about yourself. My name is Christina Manikus and I am the Adult Education Programs Coordinator at the Sacred Heart Center. I started my relationship with Sacred Heart Center as a volunteer teaching English as a Second Language after I had recently moved to Richmond from Argentina. While in Argentina, I had taught English, and I was able to bring my experience to share with the other teachers. I joined the staff towards the end of 2014 and have since evolved in my role from Development Assistant to Volunteer Coordinator and now working primarily with the adult programs. This has given me a well-balanced sense of the organization and nonprofits in general. In a former life I focused more on communications, since I studied Media Arts & Design with a minor in Theater & Dance at JMU and worked on a few movie sets afterwards.

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ConnectVA Spotlight: Daphne Swanson, President & CEO, Junior Achievement of Central Virginia

Tell us about yourself. My name is Daphne Swanson, President & CEO of Junior Achievement of Central Virginia (JACV).  I have been with Junior Achievement for 13 years.  Prior to joining Junior Achievement, I worked at Deloitte where I was as an auditor primarily working with clients in the mortgage and financial industries as well as local government. I’m originally from upstate New York, but moved to Norfolk, Virginia where I attended and graduated from Old Dominion University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science.  Seven years later I received a Post-Baccalaureate Degree in Accounting from Virginia Commonwealth University and shortly after became a Certified Public Accountant.  I have an 18 year old daughter who recently graduated from Maggie Walker Governor’s School and will be attending VCU in the fall. I serve on the board of ChamberRVA and Henrico Firefighter Foundation and a member of the West Richmond Rotary.  I am also an Advisory Board Member for BB&T of Richmond and I sit on the Virginia Career and Technical Education Advisory Committee.

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