Academy Faculty

Our Academy faculty are leading practitioners and experts in their field. Through rich content, exploration of the latest research and trends, and active dialogue with the class, the Academy equips board members with the knowledge and tools they need to be strong board leaders in the community.

Current Faculty

Carolyn Burnett

Carolyn is a Senior Business Banking Relationship Manager and Vice President at Wells Fargo. Prior to joining Wells Fargo, Carolyn was a Commercial Relationship Manager for a regional community bank. Carolyn graduated from James Madison University, earning a Bachelors of Business Administration in Finance. She currently serves the Community Investment Collaborative as a loan committee member and mentor and has served as a coach and judge for the Entrepreneurial Energy program in Culpeper. Carolyn graduated from Leadership Charlottesville in 2015 and from CNE’s Board Academy in 2016. She served at a CNE Board Fellow for one year before joining as a Director in August 2017. Carolyn also contributes to CNE’s Finance Academy. She will lead an optional session introducing participants to the ins and outs of nonprofit finance.

Allan Burrows

Allan Burrows was named President of Capital Development Services in 2006, after 12 years with the company, and managing the company’s marketing, campaign, and search divisions. In his 30 years of fundraising experience, Mr. Burrows has supervised capital and endowment campaigns throughout the Southeastern U.S. for all types of nonprofits. Mr. Burrows is experienced in building leadership, planning and executing major gift solicitations, and is skilled at delivering strategic insights to advance development and executive search work with nonprofits of all sizes and missions. He brings expertise in board development, organizational strategic planning, estate planning, campaign planning, and executive staff leadership recruitment and development. Allan will lead the Board Resource Development module of the Academy in 2018.

Mary Davis Hamlin

For the past twenty years, Mary Davis has worked as a mediator, facilitator, trainer, and coach for organizations in both the public and private sectors. She has extensive substantive and practical knowledge in the areas of collaborative decision making, conflict resolution, negotiation, and leadership. She is originally from Virginia but has spent the last two decades in Colorado and New Mexico working for two nonprofits focusing on complex multi-party policy stakeholder deliberations. Mary Davis holds a Master’s of Counseling and a Master’s of Planning and Policy from the University of Virginia and is certified as a coach by the International Coaching Federation. In 2018, Mary Davis will facilitate a workshop on collaboration for Board Academy participants.


Russ Linden

Russ Linden is a management educator and author who specializes in organizational change methods. Since 1980, he has helped government, non-profit and private-sector organizations develop leadership, foster innovation, and improve organizational performance. He is an adjunct faculty member at the Universities of Virginia, Maryland, and Connecticut, and at the Federal Executive Institute. He writes a column on management innovations for Management Insights, an online column sponsored by Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and Governing Magazine. In 2003 he was the Williams Distinguished Visiting Scholar at the State University of New York (Fredonia) School of Business. Russ has served on the boards of several nonprofits, including JAUNT, the Charlottesville Community Scholarship Program, the ARC of the Piedmont, and Congregation Beth Israel. He’s also been the director of two nonprofit agencies, has consulted with numerous nonprofits, and worked in the human services field for 10 years. Russ teaches the Strategy and Collaboration module of the Academy.

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Cristine Nardi

Cristine Nardi has been CNE’s Executive Director since 2008. In this role, she directs strategy and operations for the organization and serves as a non-voting member of CNE’s board of directors. A lawyer by training, she also counsels nonprofit staff and boards on a wide range of issues from governance to strategy to operations to fund development. She facilitates strategic collaboration between nonprofits and their community partners to effect positive community change, and she advocates for a strong nonprofit sector in the region. Cristine contributes to various aspects of Board Academy including a session on the Board Building Cycle.

Jake Zarnegar

Jake Zarnegar is Chief Product Officer at Silverchair Information Systems, a Charlottesville-based software company devoted to bringing highly useful online information products to millions of professionals and students in scientific, technical, and medical disciplines.  Prior to that role, he served as Chief Technology Officer and President at Silverchair and led the development of its major software platforms. His participation in the Charlottesville non-profit community began with an active membership in the CACF Future Fund—a giving circle for young folks that pools contributions from its members to make impactful grants in the local community each year. Mr. Zarnegar served as co-chair of the Grants Committee in the fund’s inaugural year and has also participated on the Steering Committee and Resource and Development Committee in subsequent years.  In 2013, Mr. Zarnegar also joined the Grants Committee of CACF’s Community Endowment Fund. He is a current CNE board member and serves on CNE’s Philanthropy Advisors Committee. Jake teaches the Board Fiscal Responsibility module of the Academy.

Founding Faculty

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Wendy Brown

Wendy Brown is committed to helping Charlottesville be the best place to live – for everyone. Ms. Brown founded the Center for Nonprofit Excellence in 2006 and launched Board Academy in 2009. She taught as a member of the Board Academy faculty from its inception up to 2015. In 2011, Ms. Brown co-founded the Community Investment Collaborative, a micro-enterprise development organization that leverages community resources to provide capital and education to entrepreneurs who have difficulty accessing funding from traditional sources. Ms. Brown has served on a number of boards, including the Charlottesville Free Clinic and Piedmont Virginia Community College Foundation Board and currently serves with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville, the Southern Environmental Law Center and the Contemporary Club of Albemarle.

Russell Willis Taylor

Russell Willis Taylor created Board Academy alongside Wendy Brown and taught for the first seven years of the program’s history. Russell left the Charlottesville area in 2016 to lead a project at the Banff Centre for the Arts in Alberta, Canada. She served as President and CEO of National Arts Strategies from 2001 to 2014, and has extensive senior experience in strategic business planning, financial analysis and planning, and all areas of operational management. She served as director of development for the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art before returning to England in 1984 at the invitation of the English National Opera (ENO) to establish the Company’s first fund-raising department.  In 1997 to 2001, she served as ENO’s executive director. Mrs. Taylor has held a wide range of managerial and Board posts in the commercial and nonprofit sectors. For her distinguished service, she received the Garrett Award for an outstanding contribution to the arts in Britain, and the International Citation of Merit by the International Society for the Performing Arts.

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