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2019 Programs

JANUARY: "Effective Leadership for Development Teams"
Presented by: Candy Johnson, C. Johnson Consulting

Candy Johnson currently serves as an independent consultant with more than a decade of experience in education, nonprofit and government leadership. A seasoned strategist, Johnson provides practical insights to local, regional and national organizations, aiding in their overall success. Johnson is a native of Clarksville, Tennessee – where she was the youngest member ever elected to public office for the Clarksville City Council, at 25 years old.

She holds a Bachelor of Science in public management with a minor in leadership from Austin Peay State University (2006) and a Master of Public Administration from Murray State University (2009). Johnson is also a graduate of two leadership programs, Leadership Clarksville (2010) and Leadership Middle Tennessee (2013). She is a co-founder of Leadership CMCSS (2011) – a school community leadership program in Clarksville. She is married to Dr. Bryan Johnson and they are blessed with two school-aged children.
Before relocating to Chattanooga, Tennessee, in July 2017, Johnson served as the policy director for the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, where she led the organization’s core education policy initiatives.

Since moving to Chattanooga, Johnson has worked with dozens of nonprofits and serves on local boards such as the YMCA – YCAP, Erlanger Foundation and the Tennessee Aquarium.

Industry leaders describe Johnson as an innovator, problem solver, consensus builder and one who exemplifies character above reproach. Johnson strongly believes every organization can be successful with the right servant leadership and organizational culture!

"Community Indicators Project"
Presented by: Joda Thongnopnua, Executive Director, Metro Ideas Project

Metro Ideas Project Executive Director Joda Thongnopnua presented the results of the Community Indicators Project, a study commissioned by the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga. The study identifies community trends development professionals can use to help effect the biggest issues facing the Chattanooga community and better inform fundraising strategies.

Thongnopnua has a background in communications and advertising. Prior to founding the Metro Ideas Project in 2016, he worked with major retail brands, international non-governmental organizations, and startups.

Metro Ideas Project helps midsize cities design solutions and policies that are practical, evidence-based and informed by local data to more effectively address tough urban challenges. At the intersection of research institutions, policy shops and creative agencies, Metro Ideas Project is redefining what a think tank can be with a diverse team of thinkers including journalists, academics, coders, writers and policymakers.

MARCH: Generational Approaches to Development
Presented by: Kathy Keeley, Executive Vice President, Programs & Senior Consultant, Georgia Center for Nonprofits

During a program about unique approaches to giving in different generations, Georgia Center for Nonprofits Executive Vice President, Programs & Senior Consultant Kathy Keeley shared helpful insights with development officers on how to make fundraising efforts resonate with diverse age groups. 

Keeley is Executive Vice President, Programs & Senior Consultant, Georgia Center for Nonprofits. Her expertise includes strategic planning and solution-building, project design, performance assessment and management, board and staff retreats, social enterprise, finance and economic development, and executive coaching.

With experience as a social entrepreneur, a consultant, the chief of staff for the mayor of Minneapolis, founder of multiple organizations, and the director of nonprofit and for-profit businesses, Keeley has worked with organizations of all kinds in more than 25 states and 30 countries. Over her 35-plus years as a consultant, she has turned around struggling and underperforming ventures, helped launch new companies and initiatives, and given established successes new pathways toward efficiency and expansion.

Among the many roles she held prior to joining GCN, Keeley led Decatur-based nonprofit All About Developmental Disabilities as executive director; ran her own national consulting firm, serving nonprofits and large cities; founded the Women’s Economic Development Corporation, the nation’s first loan fund for women-owned businesses, and served as its president for 10 years; was a senior fellow and program director at the Corporation for Enterprise Development, a D.C.-based economic development and policy think tank; and helped launch both the Calvert Foundation and the Association for Enterprise Opportunity. Her unique portfolio of expertise has led her to serve cities like the District of Columbia and Nashville, and to be featured in major media outlets, including 60 Minutes, The Oprah Winfrey Show, ABC Evening News, BBC News, and Voice of America Radio.

APRIL: "PRSA Lookout Panel Talks Communications & Public Relations for Fundraisers"
Presented by PRSA Lookout Chapter (see below for panel members)

The Public Relations Society of America Lookout Chapter is the leading Chattanooga-area professional organization for communicators with members across a variety of industries from southeast Tennessee and northwest Georgia.

The group has more than 80 local members and includes professions at many nonprofits with specialties in fundraising communication, social media, events, media relations and crisis planning, which was covered at the April meeting.

Panel members:
Lesley R. Berryhill is the director of special projects and events at Chambliss Center for Children, and previously served the organization as the director of communications. Her extensive experience includes nine years at the Chattanooga Downtown Partnership, a former division of RiverCity Company, followed by over three years as Managing Director of the Chattanooga Women’s Leadership Institute. An active community volunteer, she has served as a member of the Mayor’s Council for Women and on the annual fundraiser committee for the Jordan Thomas Foundation. She is a past president of the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce Downtown Council. Currently, she serves as the membership chair for the PRSA Lookout Chapter.

Amanda Plecas, APR, leads the communications team at Volkswagen of America, Chattanooga Operations. Her nonprofit experience includes serving as the director of public relations at WTCI and many volunteer boards. Her success in strategic communications was recognized by PR News in 2016, where she was a top-five global finalist for Corporate PR Professional of the Year. She holds an Accreditation in Public Relations, is a certified Public Information Officer and in Organizational Compliance/Ethics. She is currently the vice-president of the PRSA Lookout Chapter.

Kevin Lusk is the director of public relations and physician outreach at Vascular Institute of Chattanooga. Previously he served as the director of communication, membership and development at the Chattanooga Medical Society for more than 10 years. His extensive communication experience includes four years at WTCI as the director of public information and community outreach. He is a past president of the PRSA Lookout Chapter.

Kelly Allen, APR, is the director of strategic communications at local PR firm Q Strategies. She has 14 years of experience working in agency, nonprofit and corporate settings. She is president of PRSA Lookout Chapter, a board member at The Women’s Fund of Greater Chattanooga and chair of the Nightingale Committee, a trustee with the UNFoundation and the treasurer for Africa Mission Services. Her areas of expertise include B2B and B2C marketing, media relations, crisis management, health care communication and more. Kelly will facilitate the conversation and take questions from the audience.

MAY: Funders Panel
AFP members, their guests, and non-members are invited to join us for our May chapter meeting. This month's program features a Funders Panel, with representatives First Tennessee Foundation, United Way, and Unum, to talk about and answer questions on philanthropic trends.

JUNE: The Key Elements of Successful Collaborations

Dwayne Marshall, Vice President of Community Investment for the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga, presents "The Key Elements of Successful Collaborations."

He and his team manage the strategic grantmaking effort of the Community Foundation to respond to the needs and priorities of the community. Previously, he was the Senior Director of Programs and Partnerships for the Southeastern Council of Foundations where he spearheaded grantmaker education for a membership network of over 300+ foundations from across the region.

AUGUST: "Celebrating Black Philanthropy Month"
AFP members and non-members are invited to join us for our monthly program meeting with special guest presenter Valaida Fullwood. Ms. Fullwood will present "Celebrating Black Philanthropy Month: Reframing portraits of philanthropy for a richer picture of generosity and community."

Described as an "idea whisperer," Valaida Fullwood brings unbridled imagination and a gift for harnessing wild ideas to her work as a writer, public speaker, and consultant on various projects and events. Valaida is the award-winning author of Giving Back, which profiles stories of philanthropy among African Americans that was developed with photographer Charles Thomas. Giving Back was named one of the 10 Best Black Books of 2011 and received the prestigious 2012 McAdam Book Award, which recognizes "the most inspirational and useful new book for the nonprofit sector."

Valaida is a recognized thought leader on African American philanthropy and community-led philanthropy and is frequently invited by a variety of groups to write, talk, and consult on the topic. She is featured in a 2013 TEDx Talk on philanthropy and was named the 2014 Lake Distinguished Visitor at Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. In 2015, Valaida collaborated with HBCUs, museums, and other cultural institutions to launch the multimedia touring exhibit, Giving Back: The Soul of Philanthropy Reframed and Exhibited. The exhibit has attracted major funding and is not touring cities nationwide.

Ms. Valaida has been invited to join us for our meeting as part of a joint partnership with the Sankofa Fund and the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga.


While we will not hold a regular meeting, we encourage you to attend the annual conference put on by Venture Forward.

Jonathan Fanning is the speaker at our October 17th meeting.  You have two opportunities to hear Jonathan, one during our normal lunch session (11:30-1:00) and one during an additional morning session from 9:30-11:00 am.

In partnership with the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga and Venture Forward, AFP Chattanooga is pleased to welcome Vu Le to Chattanooga for an evening of thought-provoking ideas, conversation, and networking, with a keynote talk on Power and the NonProfit Sector. 

In this tumultuous sociopolitical climate, the nonprofit sector, including funders and donors, plays a crucial role. However, severe power imbalances jeopardize our effectiveness. How do we equalize power between foundations and grantees, large white-led organizations and small communities-of-color-led ones, donors and service providers, and between individuals of different levels of privilege? How do we incorporate equity, diversity, and inclusion into our every day work and strengthen our ability to collaborate to advance a just and vibrant world?