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THRIVE Participant Perspective--Virginia Voice

Our Third Cohort of THRIVE: An Accelerator for Social Good, facilitated with our partners at The Spark Mill, began in early September. Our last week is the perspective of a participating nonprofit and a little about their organization.

Virginia Voice

What are you hoping to get out of this program?

Alex Wiles, Board Chair: On a personal level, I was looking forward to the opportunity to work more closely with the staff. Having been with the organization for six years, and being a volunteer, I had an idea of the day to day, but it was exciting to work on, where we can go from here? The past year has been difficult for any nonprofit, but finding our way through that turbulence to our next chapter was really appealing to me.

Teresa Wray, Program Director: Our nonprofit has been around for awhile, but the three of us are new to our roles. It was a good chance to cut through some assumptions, challenge the folklore about our organization, and talk it through as if we were building a new company.

Alex: It was good to look at this 40+ year old organization through that entrepreneurial, start-up lens.

Mattie Fitzgerald, Director of Development and Communications

The main thing I was looking for was common ground from each player in the organization. Why are we all here? I want to get everyone on the same page.

What did you learn, or feel spoke to you about today?

Teresa: We need to more effectively engage our board. When we made our 30 /60/90 day plan of action for the work we’ve done in the last 8 weeks, so very few of the to-dos fell to the board.

Alex: We haven't worked on flexing that muscle in a long time.

Mattie: Today showed me that all of the other days leading up to this were very important. Our biggest takeaway was that we were relying heavily on assumptions. If you look at our 30/60/90, it’s factual, feedback-based. We really want to change the way we do things.

Alex: Today was the culmination of everything we’ve done. Where we’ve come in a relatively short time gives me a lot of confidence about who is involved and what they each bring to the table. We’re creating alignment so we can move forward together.

Tell us about your experience in the program.

Alex: The process, the way we moved from one subject to another and the exercises we went through was familiar and was couched in a very strategic way. The importance of respectful storytelling was familiar, but, what exactly that means and how you go about it, was helpful. Do more good than harm. Especially right before we go into pitching.

Teresa: The flywheel exercise keeps resonating with me. We had a hard time choosing, what’s the one driver? Finding that one driving activity that without which the entire flywheel would collapse.

How do you see this applying to your organization?

Teresa: We should continue to go back to what we learned here and challenge it, apply it in different ways, zooming in and zooming out.

Mattie: Implementing processes was the biggest change. The idea of more intentionally developing relationships, connecting with donors, listeners, volunteers. Letting our Virginia Voice family know we're here and better than ever.

Teresa: THRIVE has reminded us we always need fresh data. We need to make data-centered decisions.


Virginia Voice provides access to current newspapers and magazines and live audio description for the performing arts to individuals who are blind or vision-impaired.


The THRIVE accelerator program provides an opportunity for nonprofits to look beyond current challenges and obstacles and plan out a direct and streamlined path forward. Organizations will tackles a specific hurdle they want to clear to get to the next level of impact with the community and will spend concentrated time with staff and board planning and executing real-time solutions with guided facilitation. We will utilize accelerator techniques to build a cohort-responsive program.

THRIVE was created through collaboration between

The Collaboratory of Virginia and The Spark Mill.

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