7 Questions with Bernie Prince, Founder of FRESHFARM Markets

Today, we welcome Bernadine Prince to 7 Questions! Bernadine (Bernie) Prince is co-founder and Co-Executive Director of FRESHFARM Markets, a featured Catalogue charity for 2013-2014. FRESHFARM operates 10 producer-only farmers markets in the mid-Atlantic region. Bernie started FRESHFARM’s Food Stamp/Matching Dollars program and oversees FoodPrints, the local foods school program which includes a Food Lab, a fully-functional teaching kitchen that complements the organic edible garden and curriculum instruction. For the past seven years, Prince has also worked in Australia and New Zealand, where she helped set the standards for those countries’ farmers markets.


1. What motivated you to begin this organization ? What need does it fulfill and how is your organization working towards meeting this need?

Ann Yonkers and I met in 1996 and started FRESHFARM Markets by opening the first producer-only farmers market in the Dupont Circle neighborhood of Washington, DC in 1997. We both saw a need to showcase the bounty of local food grown in our Chesapeake Bay region by ensuring that farmers sold this fresh, healthy food in a well-managed farmers market. We also saw a need to educate the public about local food and farming issues and do that every market day, now with our network of 10 producer-only farmers markets in DC, MD, and VA.

2.What was your most interesting recent development, update, project, event, or partnership?

FRESHFARM Markets is currently undertaking a strategic planning process that is evaluating new opportunities for direct marketing of local food and also looking at strengthening our FRESHFARM Markets identity and brand. We have added talented new board members who are enthusiastic about this process which will help set the course for the organization over the next three to five years. Although this sounds like a very nerdy type of project, it is actually very interesting to look back at our markets and programs, partnerships, successes, and failures to evaluate them and try to look into the future for FRESHFARM Markets.

3. What other projects are you up to?

We are working to bring a new FRESHFARM Market to Union Market in Washington, DC, complete with the diversity of local food products that we have at all of our producer-only farmers markets and offering SNAP (Food Stamp) redemption with a Matching Dollars program. We have applied to USDA to accept SNAP (Food Stamps) at our Ballston, Va FRESHFARM Market, making this the first Virginia market to accept SNAP.

For our local foods, FoodPrints program, we expanded the program this year to include all the grades (first through fifth) at Watkins Elementary School so we are reaching 540 children with growing and harvesting food in our organic garden and learning about healthy foods and nutrition. We added Peabody School (pre-K and K) and SWS (first and third grades) to the program. And, thanks to funding from DCPS, we are offering a monthly Family Night where parents and students cook in our FoodLab kitchen at Watkins learning about healthy eating and cooking fresh, seasonal foods together. FoodPrints has become the most popular enrichment program in these schools.

4.Who inspires you? Do you have a hero?

We have two heroes here at FRESHFARM. Nora Pouillon (chef/owner, Restaurant Nora, first certified organic restaurant in the US) who was the inspiration for creating a producer-only farmers market in the District of Columbia. Also, Jean Wallace Douglas, who supported our work through the Wallace Genetic Foundation from the very beginning, encouraged us in every way we could to help small, family farmers. We have named our farmer scholarship fund in memory of Jean Wallace Douglas.

5.What is the single greatest challenge that your organization faces, and how are you working towards combating this issue?

Running farmers markets is a lot of work and we are always looking for energetic and talented staff to help with our work. We have recently created more full-time positions with employee benefits to attract staff who can grow with the organization.

6. What advice do you have for other people in your position? What’s your biggest take-away lesson you have gleaned from your experiences?

If you work in a nonprofit organization like FRESHFARM Markets, you love the work you do and know that you are making a difference every single day. So, remember to celebrate your successes and thank those who have been part of the process.

7.What’s next for your organization, both in the short term and long term?

We will have our annual Farmland Feast on Monday, November 11th and already have our Feast volunteers and staff busy on the planning for this spectacular local food event that has been called “a delectable philanthropic success” and the “locavore party of the year!” Longer term, I would like to see the FoodPrints program expand to more elementary schools in the DC metro area. We would also like to see the local foodshed in the DC metro area become even stronger with more restaurants and institutions buying and serving local food and more young people becoming the next generation of farmers in our region.

7 Questions: Dr. Rachel Mazyck, President of Collegiate Directions, Inc.

Today, we’re happy to share 7 Questions answered by Dr. Rachel Mazyck, President of Collegiate Directions, Inc. Before joining CDI, Rachel spent two years as an assistant to the Chief Academic Officer in the Baltimore City Public Schools. Among other duties, she oversaw strategic planning, managed the budget, and coordinated the work of the academic departments. Rachel graduated with Highest Distinction and Phi Beta Kappa from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After spending two years with Teach For America as a 4th grade teacher in Indianola, Mississippi, she earned a Master’s in Education Policy from Harvard. She then attended Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, earning a D.Phil. in Education for her research on the factors influencing African Caribbean families’ secondary school choices. Continue reading

7 Questions with Lissette Bishins, Executive Director of Carpenter’s Shelter

A warm welcome to Lissette Bishins, Executive Director of Carpenter’s Shelter, who will be answering 7 Questions today! Bishins is the immediate past Executive Director of the Alexandria Chapter of the American Red Cross of the National Capital Area. Previously, she was the Deputy Executive Director of the YWCA of Greater Miami and Dade County and the Regional Director of the YWCAs of the Southeast Region. Bishins is currently the Vice Chair of the Partnership to Prevent and End Homelessness in the City of Alexandria. She holds a B.S. in Mass Communications from Emerson College. Bishins was recently recognized by the EXCEL Award for her exceptional nonprofit leadership. Continue reading

7 Questions with Mark Robbins, Executive Director of the Yellow Ribbon Fund

Today we welcome Mark Robbins, Executive Director of the Yellow Ribbon Fund, to answer 7 Questions! Mark E. Robbins, CAE, has been executive director of the Yellow Ribbon Fund since 2008. Prior to that he held positions with several trade associations with a focus on membership, communications, development and chapter relations. These organizations included the Career College Association, Community Associations Institute, National Association of Manufacturers, American Subcontractors Association and the American Society for Information Science. Earlier in his career he worked as an admissions officer for Marymount University (Va.) and Marian University (Ind.). Mark earned his B.A. in political science from Penn State University and has received the designation of Certified Association Executive (CAE) from the American Society of Association Executives.

1.What motivated you to begin working with this organization? What need does it fulfill and how is your organization working towards meeting it?

I came to the Yellow Ribbon Fund after a former boss of mine, who was volunteering with the group at the time, told me they were looking for an executive director. After meeting with the chairman and several board members, I was offered the job. My favorite jobs were always ones that had a cause, someplace where my work made a difference. At the Yellow Ribbon Fund, we make a huge difference for many injured service members and their families. We provide practical assistance that the government cannot. There is a special pride in helping these brave men and women and their families.

2.What was your most interesting recent development, update, project, event, or partnership?

This spring we’ve dramatically expanded our support for the family caregivers of injured service members, who are often overlooked. We were one of the first to recognize their sacrifices — mostly moms and young wives who drop everything to help their injured loved one recover. To help them do that, we’ve been providing them with free therapeutic massages and caregiver outings for mutual support. We just launched our first Caregiver Resource Fair at Walter Reed, our first Caregiver Retreat, and collaborated with University of Maryland University College and The Blewitt Foundation to offer one-of-a-kind caregiver scholarships.

The Pillars of Strength scholarships are full-ride scholarships to UMUC that make it possible for caregivers to prepare for their changed circumstances. After helping their service member recover, they often have a years-long gap in their resumes, and may also have to become the primary breadwinner.

For the Caregiver Retreat, we took 10 caregivers on a three-day/two night respite retreat in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Many of them had never spent a day away from their injured son or husband since the injury happened. We gave them the opportunity to nap, read, do crafts together, go out for a relaxing walking tour and gourmet meals, or just eat in bed if that?s what they wanted. Mostly, they got to spend time with others who understand what it means to care for their loved one every day.

3.What other projects are you up to?

Through our Ambassador Program, we’re growing a nationwide network of volunteers so we can continue to provide hands-on support to injured service members and their families after they go home. They’re scattered in communities across the country, and while some do just fine, others need help reintegrating. To keep them from falling through the cracks, as a nation we have to weave a safety net of support, and we’re at the forefront of making that happen. Our volunteer ambassadors, more than 100 of them now, are doing everything from providing rides to the VA to helping with job hunts and home renovations to just being a listening ear.

4.Who inspires you? Do you have a hero?

Our donors inspire me. It is always rewarding to see a donation come in. Sometimes it is from our own hard work; other times the donation seems to comes in from out of nowhere, like the anonymous donor who recently sent us $250,000. Or the envelope I just opened today with a $5,000 check and a note that said, “Keep up the good work!” It’s a humbling reminder that each time we hold an event, or post on our Web site or Facebook page, or speak to a group, people are listening. Large or small, all of our donors are heroic to me.

5.What is the single greatest challenge that your organization faces, and how are you working towards combating this issue?

Our greatest challenge will be educating people that the needs won?t end when the war does. Troops are scheduled to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014, which means there will be fewer injured service members — thankfully! But while our current mission focuses on the injured while they?re being treated at Walter Reed and Ft. Belvoir, the young men and women who have lost limbs and suffered traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) will be challenged by these issues for years to come. Going forward, our mission will shift more and more toward outreach, staying in touch with the injured after they return to their hometowns through our Ambassador Program. Our staff and volunteers are already making a difference to returning veterans all across the country.

6. What advice do you have for other people in your position?

My best advice is to stay honest, open and transparent when talking about your nonprofit. Credibility is everything and you never want to do anything to compromise it.

7.What’s next for your organization, both in the short term and long term?

We will continue to focus on the injured as they come to the hospital, take care of their family members, and let them know we won’t forget about the sacrifice they made.

7 Questions with Eloise Russo, Executive Director of City Kids Wilderness Project

Today for 7 Questions we welcome Eloise Russo, Executive Director of City Kids Wilderness Project! Eloise has been with the organization since January 2011. Prior to City Kids, Eloise worked with Institute for Non-Profit Management and Leadership in Boston, MA, and with Kaplan K-12 Learning Services, managing after-school and summer school programs for 800 under-served DC youth. Eloise earned her BA from Tufts University in Peace and Justice Studies, and her MBA from Boston University’s Public and Non-Profit Management Program. Most recently, Eloise was selected as a member of the 2012 class of the Nonprofit Roundtable of Greater Washington’s Future Executive Directors Fellowship.

1. Welcome Eloise! What motivated you to begin working with City Kids? What need does it fulfill and how is your organization working towards meeting this need?

I started with City Kids Wilderness Project (City Kids) shortly after graduating from business school. I grew up in DC, attended public school K-12, and wanted to join an organization doing community building and youth development work with DC youth. In addition, summer camp and wilderness experiences through Outward Bound were critical in helping shape my view of the world and my abilities and confidence as a leader. Joining the City Kids team allowed me to combine my passions for youth development and wilderness programming with my background in program management and organizational development.

2. What was your most interesting recent development?

City Kids works closely with many other nonprofits and social service organizations in order to open doors for our youth. For many years, we have had a strong partnership with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), through which many of our youth have received scholarships to attend NOLS wilderness courses. One of our youth, Tyrhee Moore, successfully completed two NOLS courses and is now being sponsored to climb Denali in Alaska as a part of Expedition Denali. This is an all African American climb designed to help inspire youth of color to get outside, get active, and become stewards of our wild places. Tyrhee grew up as a part of the City Kids program, is now a student at West Virginia University, and is a mentor and role model for our younger youth.

3. What other projects are you up to?

We just moved out to Jackson, WY for the summer, where we run programming for our DC youth. We’ll have three sessions of summer camp where campers will go horseback riding, canoeing, swimming, and white water rafting. Camp is a fun-filled time for our youth and includes camping trips to National Forests and National Parks including Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park.

4. Who inspires you (in the philanthropy world or otherwise)?

My biggest inspiration is our kids and seeing them grow and challenge themselves through the City Kids program. Our kids consistently step outside of their comfort zones to try new things, be it rock climbing, jumping off a ledge as a part of a high ropes course, or applying for and participating in their first internship or job experience. Being a part of an organization where trying new things is built into the structure of our work, encourages all of us, staff and kids alike, to take on big challenges and to not be afraid to fail.

5. What is the single greatest challenge that your organization faces, and how are you working towards combating this issue?

We’re growing! City Kids started as a summer camp for DC youth in 1996, and in the past several years, we have expanded to become a year-round program. We now have a four day per week after-school program for our middle school youth, weekend outdoor adventure programming, and leadership development, job training, and post-secondary educational and career support for our older youth. As we grow our programs and the length of time that we work with each child enrolled in the program, we need to work hard to ensure that our focus on program quality continues to be high and that we continue to be able to provide individualized support to our youth. In addition, as our programs grow, we have also needed to focus on growing our organizational capacity in order to support our increased efforts. To support this growth, we applied and were recently selected for a Fair Chance capacity building partnership. We are excited about what this year will bring and look forward to building the strength of the organization so that we can continue to provide high quality programming for under-resourced DC youth for years to come.

6. What’s your biggest take-away lesson you would tell others that you have gleaned from your experiences?

Build and nurture your network! I recently participated in the Nonprofit Roundtable’s Future Executive Director Fellowship and have been blown away by the support of my peers through this fellowship. Having a strong network of people to go to for support, to bounce ideas off of, and to share resources with makes the role much more manageable and makes your potential impact that much greater.

My biggest lesson that I learned is that it really helps to absolutely love what you’re doing. Being an ED is a demanding role, but when you love what you’re doing, it can also be a really fun role. On any given day I can have a funding meeting, conversations with a parent, a meeting with our accounting team, a conference call with board members, a program site visit or even be directly involved in leading our youth programming. Having a strong belief in the mission, and an innate enthusiasm for the role, helps to make the breadth of the responsibilities of the ED role more personally fulfilling and ultimately helps make me a better leader and advocate for the organization.

7. What’s next for your organization, both in the short term and long term?

In the short term, we’re focused on revamping our evaluation system. Working with kids for 6+ years includes many important milestones and being able to track our participants’ growth over time and their ability to meet goals is crucial. In the long term, we’re focused on creating a sustainable organizational structure. This involves formalizing many of our program and organizational systems as well as being really thoughtful about our growth, financial model, and community of supporters.

7 Questions – Buzz Mauro & Deb Gottesman (Theatre Lab)

Today, we are welcoming not one … but two non-profit leaders to “7 Questions.” Buzz Mauro and Deb Gottesman are co-directors of The Theatre Lab School of the Dramatic Arts, which serves hundreds of youth and adults through its Life Stories program, and hundreds more through classes and summer camps in acting, directing, playwriting, and musical theatre .

1. What was your most interesting recent project, initiative, partnership, or event?

We are about to embark on a project that is one of our “big dreams:” a theatre and documentary film project by and about the participants in our Life Stories program for homeless women residing in N Street Village’s Recovery Housing Unit. Life Stories is our signature outreach program which trains people from typically marginalized populations to create original dramatic works based on their real-life experiences. We work with incarcerated and severely at-risk youth, seniors, critically ill children and their families, as well as with formerly homeless women. And we now feel that it’s time to share the work of the women from N Street on a larger stage. The monologues, scenes, poetry, and more that these women have created are so powerful and so well-acted that we want to make sure their voices are heard — not only by social justice activists, but also by people who love great theatre.

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7 Questions – Tamara Wilds Lawson (Posse Foundation)

We’re psyched to introduce … Tamara Wilds Lawson, director of Posse DC. The Posse Foundation, which has grown to eight sites across the country, identifies public high school students with extraordinary academic and leadership potential and send them to college in supportive teams (or” posses”) that act as traveling support systems.

1. What was your most interesting recent project, initiative, partnership, or event?

We are currently in the final push for our annual Power of 10 fundraising event taking place on October 5, 2011, at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre here in downtown DC. The event will highlight our Posse Scholars and our programs, which both prepare them for and help sustain them through their collegiate experiences. We will also honor Barbara Harman, The Catalogue for Philanthropy’s dynamic president and editor.

2. What else are you up to?

This is a busy time of year for Posse DC because we have started our Dynamic Assessment Process (DAP), which is the unique way we identify the talented young leaders from area high schools we will send to top colleges and universities across the country on four-year full tuition scholarships. This fall, we have already interviewed over 1,000 potential Posse Scholars.

3. Is there a moment, person, or event that inspired you to do this particular work?

Most recently, my exposure to the talented young people participating in programs at the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center motivated me to seek fulfilling work that would highlight the kind of intellect and capacity for excellence they consistently exhibit. I am thrilled that The Posse Foundation, which has been providing opportunities for incredible young leaders like them to go to college for over 20 years, through the vision of its president and founder Debbie Bial, is the perfect place for me to do just that.

4. Who is your hero in the nonprofit/philanthropy world?

Reggie Van Lee, who is an Executive Vice President with Booz Allen Hamilton where he leads the firm’s not-for-profit and public health businesses, is a phenomenal leader in the philanthropic world! Although he has a national profile, which he developed over the course of a 25 year career in which he has helped transform public and private organizations, he is personally involved with several local projects in New York City and Washington, DC. He is beloved in DC because of his unique ability to see the intrinsic value of productive non-profit organizations, regardless of their size, and support them unconditionally. I am inspired by the breadth of organizations and lives he has transformed on a national and local level.

5. What is the single greatest (and non-financial) challenge to the work that you do every day?

One of the biggest challenges we face as an organization is that there is an overreliance on standardized test scores by many institutions of higher learning — which leads to countless capable, dynamic students being overlooked. As a result, we find that the demand for our Posse leadership and merit scholarships far outweighs our capacity to provide opportunities for all of the great young people we encounter to get a college education.

6. What advice do you have for other people who want to work in your field?

Chose an organization doing work you are passionate about because that passion will help sustain you when the work becomes intense and your responsibilities seem daunting. My advice for future directors is don’t underestimate the importance of hiring a strong team of professionals who are a good fit for the organization and consistently supporting them once they’re on board!

7. What’s next?

As the new Posse DC director and a native Washingtonian, I am looking forward to building new partnerships with local organizations and strengthening our existing relationships with key supporters.

EXTRA:?If you could have a power breakfast with any three people (living, dead, or fictional) who would they be?

Ella Jo Baker, Ida B. Wells-Barnett and Frederick Douglass.

7 Questions – Marti Worshtil (Prince George’s Child Resource Center)

CFP welcomes … Marti Worshtil, Executive Director of Prince George’s Child Resource Center, which offers a wide variety of services that foster stable child care programs, help working families, and nurture home environments where children can thrive. The Family Support Center is the hub, where family-friendly programs reach over 18,000 people a year.

1. What was your most interesting recent project, initiative, partnership, or event?

The Resource Center celebrated our 20th anniversary with a Family Festival at FedEx field. Even with torrential rain and thunder one hour before the event and horrendous heat and humidity after the storm … we had a blast! Almost 1,300 attend and danced the Cha Cha slide with the County Executive, climbed Calleva’s rock wall, skated, painted, broadcast news on CTV and learned all about County services.

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7 Questions – Kathleen Sibert (A-SPAN)

CFP welcomes … Kathleen Sibert, Executive Director of the Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network (A-SPAN), whose workers reach out directly to to homeless men and women — frequenting wooded areas, overpasses, parks, and abandoned buildings, encouraging them to pick up a bagged meal and to drop in at Opportunity Place, the hub of A-SPAN’s operations. Want to take part? A-SPAN’s clients need new glasses and bus fares for job interviews. Help out HERE!

1. What was your most interesting recent project, initiative, partnership, or event?

The most interesting recent project that we are involved in is the 100,000 Homes Campaign, which is being brought to Arlington as 100 Homes. It is a national initiative to house the most vulnerable people living on the streets and is a powerful way to end homelessness.

2. What else are you up to?

We are constantly working to expand the services that we offer to our clients who live on the streets of Arlington. We run the Arlington’s Emergency Winter Shelter from November through March and brought nursing services there, which has significantly improved the health of our clients and dramatically reduced the number of times they are seen at the Emergency Room and in the hospital. Continue reading

7 Questions – Tim Payne (For Love of Children)

Welcome … Tim Payne, Executive Director of For Love of Children. For hundreds of children and teens, FLOC offers carefully paced, one-on-one tutoring that bring them to grade-level proficiency in reading and math and after-school workshops teach teamwork, leadership, and community service. Learn more!

1. What was your most interesting recent project, initiative, partnership, or event?

Our biggest news is that for the sixth consecutive year, 100% of FLOC seniors have graduated from high school on time and have enrolled in postsecondary institutions for the fall. We celebrated this news with many great projects and partnerships. Among the most exciting is a donation from TerpSys, an amazing corporate donor and partner. TerpSys, led by CEO Ed Woods, gifted a laptop to every graduating senior in FLOC’s 2011 class. Owning their own computers would have been impossible for these students, but TerpSys’s generous donation made it a reality for each of them. We hosted an inspiring event at our headquarters where Ed and his team presented the laptops to students.

I am also extremely proud that FLOC awarded scholarships to all of our 2011 graduates through our own Fred Taylor Scholarship Fund. We celebrated this news at the annual Fred Taylor Scholarship Dinner, which featured an extremely moving media project that used film and photography to tell the story of each graduating scholar. Our scholars helped create this project through a grant awarded to us by Boston University Center for Digital Imaging Arts. It was a fantastic evening where students, families, volunteers, staff and supporters came together to celebrate another successful year at FLOC. Check out the video here.

It is truly amazing to watch our students graduate from high school prepared academically, financially, and technologically for postsecondary success. Continue reading