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20 PBC Nonprofit Professionals Begin Leadership Program

Posted By Charlotte Gill, Tuesday, November 19, 2019

(WEST PALM BEACH, FL) November, 19, 2019 – Twenty Palm Beach County nonprofit professionals have been accepted into the Rising Leaders program presented by Nonprofits First. The nonprofit leadership program is a competitive 6-month program that prepares nonprofit program managers to transform into the sector’s new generation of top leaders.


Rising Leaders Class of 2020

Schiller Ambroise, Community Partners of South Florida

Altagracia Andre, Center for Family Services of Palm Beach County

Amanda Canete, Compass LGBTQ Community Center

Blanca Cartagena, Lake Worth West Resident Planning Group

Jennifer Crane, Community Partners of South Florida

Ericka Estime, City of West Palm Beach, Department of Housing & Community Development

Nancy Finn, CHSFL/BRIDGES at West Palm Beach

Christopher Gay, Palm Beach County School District

Richard Haines, Urban League of Palm Beach County

Natashia Harris. The Lord's Place

Lashaundra Highsmith, Palm Beach County Food Bank

Susan LaRocca, The Lord’s Place

Ana Lopez, Community Partners of South Florida

Wynsome McLean, Community Partners of South Florida

Matthew Meek, Easterseals Florida

Kemba Pinkston, Children's Home Society of Florida

Brian Rowe, CROS Ministries

Jonathan Taylor, Police Athletic League of West Palm Beach

Robbriannia Weekley-Johnson, YWCA of Palm Beach County

Javaris Yarns, Children's Home Society of Florida


Participants will acquire a deeper understanding of their own leadership styles while gaining hands-on experience in strategies for leading their programs and organization to a high level of impact and success.


The Rising Leaders experience fosters interaction, discovery, dialogue, and servant leadership as participants increase skills to lead the nonprofit field. Alumni of the program transfer skills directly to their current roles and many go on to serve in executive level positions in the nonprofit sector.  Nonprofit organizations are a major economic force in Palm Beach County, employing nearly 30,000 people with total annual wages of almost $1.2 billion in Palm Beach County alone (see Florida Nonprofit Alliance’s website for more eye-opening info about the nonprofit sector in the Sunshine State).


The class members were nominated by their managers and selected for their leadership qualities, passion for their missions, and eagerness to learn new skills. They will meet as a group for one full day each month, from November to June, engaging in topics such as new models of leadership, driving social change, public speaking, and critical thinking and decision-making. They will also conduct an extracurricular small group project designed to assist a local charitable or civic organization.


“Rising Leaders is the next generation of leadership in the nonprofit sector, succession planning at its best,” said Jessica Cecere, CEO of Nonprofits First.


Rising Leaders has graduated over 325 nonprofit leaders since the program launched in 2005.




Nonprofits First is a membership organization focused on enhancing the nonprofit community’s effectiveness, efficiency, and ultimately impact.  The vision of Nonprofits First is a community in which nonprofit organizations achieve their highest level of community impact. Nonprofits First strengthens the nonprofit sector through accreditation, leadership development, education, and management support services.  For more information, visit


Tags:  Collaborations  Leadership  Network  Nonprofit  Nonprofits First  Palm Beach County  Professional Development  Rising Leaders 

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October Member Spotlight: CHAMP

Posted By Charlotte Gill, Tuesday, October 29, 2019
Updated: Wednesday, October 30, 2019


There are many nonprofits in Palm Beach County serving the needs of intellectually disabled children and adults.


A new agency called CHAMP is one of them, but it focuses on something a little different: Giving differently-abled people with autism, down syndrome, and other diagnoses a paycheck instead of a disability check.


It’s a mission that Brett Carpenter of CHAMP is passionate about.


The CHAMP founder shares his family's journey as part of our October member profile.



It was June 2000 when our family doctor uttered the words that changed the course of our lives: “Mr. and Mrs. Carpenter your son Reese has autism.” Those words started a journey for my wife and I, and 21 years later, we have learned from family, educators, and therapists how to help our son be the best “Reese” he can be.


So when I had a chance to pay it forward, I took it.

After 38 years of working at a large South Florida company, I retired and started a non-profit called Children’s Health And Mentor Program (CHAMP).  Our mission is simple. Provide FREE recreational activities for youth and young adults with intellectual disabilities. 

CHAMP serves people with Autism, Down Syndrome, and Cerebral Palsy to name a few. Through recreational activities, CHAMP will help them improve their social skills and help them reach their full potential, which can include employment. CHAMP’s vision is to replace a disability check with a paycheck.

CHAMP welcomes those with any intellectual disability, or should I say “different ability.”


Some Background


Today, one in 58 children will be diagnosed with autism – up from around one in 150 when Reese was born. Autism is becoming more prevalent and having larger impacts in our community.


When our children hit age 22, they "age out" of school and there are no formal services for them. In the intellectual disability community, this is known as "THE CLIFF," meaning the services drop off. 


As a father of a 21-year-old son with autism, I understand what the challenges have been for my family and we are now facing "THE CLIFF" ourselves.  


My hope is to serve youth/young adults before and after "THE CLIFF."


Seven Great Trips

Since our inception in March 2019, CHAMP has had seven events: teaching about flying drones, bowling with Special Olympians, a Hawaiian-themed dance, paddle boarding, a croquet lesson, a fishing trip on the Intracoastal, and a trip to Miami on the Brightline Train to visit the Science Museum.


“The one I feel most passionate about is the Brightline Train trip to Miami to see the Frost Science Museum on October 12,” said Brett.

CHAMP took 20 youth/young adults and 25 parents/caregivers as chaperones, traveled on the Brightline Railway, and then met seven VIVINT employee volunteers at the Miami Brightline Station. Later on, all of us visited the museum’s planetarium show and the multiple levels of aquariums.


All these activities were very visible and enjoyable by all.


What wasn’t visible is that there were a variety of teachable moments that occurred and the group didn’t realize they were learning. Learning while having fun is the hallmark of CHAMP’s program.


Visit WWW.MYYCHAMP.COM to learn more about what we do and to see the pictures and associated descriptions in the EVENT PICTURES section. If you know of a family that could benefit from FREE recreational activities for those with intellectual disabilities, please share this article and visit the website.

If you know a great story about a local nonprofit, please share it with Charlotte Gill, Nonprofits First’s director of development and business strategies, at

Tags:  Charities  Cultivate  Membership  Network  Nonprofit  Nonprofits First  Storytelling 

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Notables Notices Hats Off Nonprofit Awards

Posted By Charlotte Gill, Wednesday, October 16, 2019
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Palm Beach County Nonprofits Involved In Bahamas Relief

Posted By Charlotte Gill, Friday, September 27, 2019
Updated: Sunday, September 29, 2019

Right after Hurricane Dorian’s powerful winds and torrential rain cut a devastating path through parts of the Bahamas, the nonprofit sector in Palm Beach County quickly sprang into action to help thousands of people whose lives were suddenly upended by the storm. Many nonprofit staff and volunteers worked through Labor Day weekend to gather food, water, belongings, clothing, medical supplies, diapers and other items, and then fly and ship them over to the hardest hit communities. Much of those relief efforts continue today – and so we want to spotlight the extraordinary nonprofits who stepped up over the past few weeks to help those in desperate need. Here are a few of their stories.


Within days of Dorian’s passage, the staff at our member organization, Lake Worth West Resident Planning Group, began gathering dozens of bags of toiletries and food destined for the Bahamas. Right away, Lake Worth West residents joined in to donate their own food to the relief effort. Those residents know all about starting over. Many of them are new immigrants who arrived in the community with barely anything and often relied on the generosity of others until they managed to find work and earn money. “Our residents wanted to give back and help out,” said Ronda Rogers, executive director of Lake Worth West. The donated bags quickly made their way to the most ravaged areas of the islands.


As soon as the first images of destruction surfaced from the Bahamas, another one of our members, Clinics Can Help, got busy. CEO Owen O’Neill knew there would be significant medical needs following the storm, and so his staff began preparing medical gloves, hygienic supplies, crutches, and other equipment. The center accepts used and unwrapped medical equipment and supplies, and gives them to children and adults who can’t afford them for their physical recovery. They have a warehouse filled with hundreds of donated medical items. O’Neill, a nurse, told WPTV that he wanted to help because he had been in emergency situations earlier in life when there wasn’t sufficient medical equipment and he wanted to do his part in preventing that from happening in the Bahamas.


Palm Beach County Medical Society also started collecting medical supplies from the public, encouraging people to drop off at their office everything from ace bandages and walkers to syringes/needles and nebulizers. Then, the organization’s physician leaders helped arrange for other doctors and healthcare professionals to volunteer for the Bahamas Celebration Humanitarian Cruise. The group spent several days treating injured patients and delivering medicine to the sick. Physicians saved many lives, including arranging a middle-of-the-night airlift to Jackson Memorial of a Bahamian hurricane victim who was initially heading to West Palm Beach.


Nonprofits aren’t the only organizations that got involved in helping the people of the Bahamas. Plenty of restaurants, stores, shops and other businesses raised money and collected items, too, and they should be commended as well. But it’s the nonprofits that are likely to continue on with the relief efforts in the long-run, especially once the collective attention moves onto something else. And, for that, we should all be thankful.


If you know a great story about a local nonprofit, please share it with Charlotte Gill, Nonprofits First’s director of development and business strategies. Her email is:

Tags:  Charities  Collaborations  Emergency Aid  Leadership  Nonprofit  Volunteer 

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Member Spotlight: NAMI Palm Beach County

Posted By Charlotte Gill, Monday, August 26, 2019

Mental health is one of the most pressing issues in Palm Beach County.

Lots of nonprofits provide direct mental health services – but few agencies focus solely on education, support, and advocacy.

One of those is National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Palm Beach County, which is our August member spotlight.

We asked Katherine Murphy, the organization’s director of programs, to tell us what NAMI Palm Beach County does and how we can all support their important mission.


Why is NAMI Palm Beach County’s work so important right now? 

Katherine Murphy: Mental health conditions affect the lives of 1 in 4 adults and 1 in 5 youth in the United States. NAMI works to reduce stigma so people feel more comfortable to connect to care and allow them to build and maintain supportive relationships in their own community.

All of NAMI’s programs and services are provided free of cost, which is important since Florida ranks near the bottom in per-capita state mental health funding. All of NAMI’s programs and services are provided by individuals with “lived experience” who can relate and offer encouragement.


What does NAMI Palm Beach County do?   

Katherine Murphy: NAMI Palm Beach County is comprised of families, friends, and individuals living with mental health conditions who are helping others facing mental health challenges. Providing educational and support services to those living with mental illness and their families is the essential function of NAMI.

Support groups for individuals and family members are offered throughout the county. A full-time Family Support Specialist helps those in need to navigate the complex system of mental health care. Education programs are offered to middle and high school students, family members, the community, and those living with a mental health condition. NAMI Palm Beach County also provides peer mentoring to youth and adults.


How can people support NAMI Palm Beach County’s work?

Katherine Murphy: Please join us at the 2019 NAMIWalks on November 2, 2019: Through NAMIWalks’ public, active display of support for people affected by mental illness, we are changing our community and ensuring that resources are available for those in need.

Come out to our Annual Luncheon on December 12, 2019:

Pledge to be StigmaFree!

Talk about it!

Discuss mental health and wellness with your community.


Be supportive of colleagues, friends, and families who have mental illness or are caregivers.

Educate yourself!

Join us for our monthly General Meetings, or invite us to do a talk for your agency.



Why does NAMI support Nonprofits First, and how has your organization benefited from Nonprofits First’s services?                     

Katherine Murphy: Nonprofits First’s Accreditation sets a respected standard, accepted by local funders, which provides an easier and more streamlined approach to grant writing.

NAMI Palm Beach County staff benefit from the quality training, including computer classes, offed by Nonprofits First.

Learn more about NAMI Palm Beach County here.


If you know a great story about a local nonprofit, please share it with Charlotte Gill, Nonprofits First’s director of development and business strategies. Her email is:

Tags:  Membership  Mental Health  Nonprofit  Palm Beach County 

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