I am writing to let you know that by December 2019, I will be stepping down in my role as Executive Director of Rainier Valley Corps.
Thanks to you, RVC is stronger than ever, with an incredible team, amazing board, growing programs, and wider impact. Meanwhile, it has been 12 consecutive years of being a full-time executive director for me. With RVC on such a great track, I feel that if there’s ever a time to take a break, it is now. My kids are six and three, and I was reminded of what someone told me once: “The work will always be there, but your children will grow up only one time.” I want to spend this, their one childhood, with them.
It has been quite the adventure. RVC has grown significantly from when we were at the Hillman City Collaboratory and we couldn’t afford office supplies so I was constantly stealing pens and Post-its from other nonprofits. We have accomplished so much together in these past few years. Working in collaboration, we have supported dozens of brilliant leaders and organizations doing critical work in our community, and through trials and failure, we blazed new trails for how to do effective leadership, funding, and capacity building for communities of color. The lessons we gathered have helped and inspired many organizations across the sector.
And RVC is just getting started!
I am incredibly grateful to everyone in our community for helping to make RVC’s vision a reality since its inception. Our staff who have worked countless hours with passion and dedication; special thanks to our Managing Director, Ananda Valenzuela, who has served in shared leadership with me as the internal leader and is responsible for many of RVC’s innovative strategies and practices. Our board, whose brilliance and spirit of community and transformation allowed RVC to explore and grow. Our many funders and donors, who put up with a lot of uncertainty and risks to support RVC’s work. Our volunteers, who provide thousands of hours across many important areas. Our consultants, who helped guide us through multiple excited changes and phases of growth.
And of course, I am deeply grateful to our fellows and our partner organizations, for all that you do each day to lift up families, strengthen community, and create a more just and inclusive world. It has been an honor to work beside you.
RVC will spend the next few months exploring RVC’s leadership structure and determining an exciting path forward. The hiring team, comprising board and staff, will have more information to share soon. We will take time to do it right and to explore leadership in a way that aligns with RVC’s culture and values.
I am looking forward to taking a break. I will mainly focus on writing and speaking and hanging out with my family for a while. I will still be writing my weekly blog, NonprofitAF. After December, I can be reached at vu@nonprofitAF.com.
Words cannot express how much I love and appreciate RVC and the community we have built together. Thank you for all that you do. Please let me know if you have any questions or advice for RVC or for me as we start this exciting next phase together.
As I reflect on Vu’s upcoming transition from RVC, I continue to be amazed by all that has been accomplished over the past 5 years. RVC started out as a pilot fellowship program with just one staff member (Vu).
Today, Rainier Valley Corps is a national model that has grown considerably, with 12 staff, 20 community partners, and 27 alumni, nearly all of whom continue to work in the nonprofit sector as strong voices for equity and change. This has all been made possible as a direct result of Vu’s incredible vision for what RVC could be.
But he didn’t do this alone. The heart and soul of RVC is its incredible staff — thought partners and co-drivers of our organizational mission. RVC has always been about creating a world centered in equity and justice, and we’re fortunate to have such an amazing team working to actualize this vision. In addition, the steady support from RVC’s incredible foundation supporters, volunteers, community partners, and board members has been essential to our work.
This solid team and the steady support from our community is why I feel confident in our future despite Vu’s decision to move on from his leadership position so he can spend more time with his family. Still, Vu will be missed. The impact he has made on this organization, on our community, and on the nonprofit sector as a whole is immeasurable.
I am extremely grateful to share that in recognition of Vu’s service to the field, several of RVC’s donors have offered to contribute additional resources to help cover expenses related to his transition. I’d like to take this opportunity to recognize a few of our donor partners for their generous contributions. Your support for Rainier Valley Corps is so appreciated and will enable us to continue Vu’s legacy far into the future.
Thank you to Susan Sullivan, Stella Laurenzo, Judy Pigott, Jon Kauffman, Janet Levinger, Katherine Bulitt, and Sharon Chen for your investment in RVC’s leadership!
Recognizing the challenge we have before us to find Vu’s successor (could it be you?), the board and staff have already been working for several months to identify a path forward, which will certainly include opportunities for engagement from the broader RVC community. Keep an eye out for more information from our hiring committee, which will complete its planning process in the coming weeks.
Thank you for being part of the RVC community. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions at all. We’re grateful to have your ongoing support as we continue to deepen our impact and build capacity for communities of color to thrive in Rainier Valley and beyond.
All the best,
RVC Board President