2020 Academy Faculty

Each year, we seek out experienced practitioners and experts in their field to lead our sessions. 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.

Board Academy 2020 Faculty

Carolyn Burnett

Carolyn Burnett 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 is a 2015 graduate of Leadership Charlottesville and a 2016 Graduate of the CNE Board Academy.

Mary Coleman, Executive Director, City of Promise

Ms. Coleman currently works as the Executive Director at City of Promise, a nonprofit that offers academic support to low-income children in three neighborhoods in Charlottesville. She previously served as Development Director at City of Promise, Director of Institutional Advancement at The Covenant School and as Director of Donor Relations at Woodberry Forest School. Mary has extensive experience in fundraising, donor stewardship, marketing, and alumni, parent, and volunteer programs. Her event experience includes capital campaign celebrations, alumni reunions, auctions, dedications, and donor receptions. Mary met her husband, Joe, while both were students at Princeton University and they lived for 23 years at Woodberry Forest. The Colemans have been married 36 years, and they have seven children and four grandchildren.

Cindy Colson

Cindy has 18 years of leadership experience in the nonprofit sector working for nonprofits in human services and healthcare. She has worked on building strong collaborations with more than 65 nonprofits to develop programs and initiatives to address community needs. Cindy earned her BIS from the University of Virginia and an MBA from the University of Mary Washington. She enjoys reading nonfiction books, cycling, and kayaking. Cindy lives in Culpeper with her husband. Cindy will contribute to various aspects of Board Academy in 2020 including a session on the board building cycle.

David Deaton

David has over a decade of experience in market research and strategic planning. As former Director of Strategy and Market Research for the CFA Institute’s Asia Pacific region, David has extensive experience in both qualitative and quantitative market analysis. He then went on to become Global Strategic Planning Director where he provided group facilitation for departmental strategic planning. Along with running his consulting firm, Deaton Group LLC, David is also the director of Charlottesville Alliance FC, a non-profit semi-professional soccer team competing in the NPSL which aims to help underprivileged youth in Charlottesville, VA. David teaches the Fiscal Responsibility section of Board Academy, as well as components of CNE’s Finance Academy.

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 2020, Mary Davis will provide expert facilitation on team dynamics and interpersonal 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 will teach the Strategy module of the 2020 Academy.

Affiliated Faculty

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.

Founding Faculty

Wendy Brown Headshot

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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CNE is excited to launch 7 Actionable Principles for a Strong Social Sector!

Building on themes from 10 discussion sessions with 67 community members, and several leading national frameworks for nonprofit health and impact, the 7 Actionable Principles aim to create a shared understanding of what makes a healthy nonprofit and build a supportive learning community of nonprofits and funders.

We encourage you to check out the site and you can find a recording of our launch town hall here.

CNE Members: Schedule a complimentary hour of support and coaching around the 7 Actionable Principles here.