Staten Island NFP searching for new leader

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For the past decade, Staten Island NFP Association has been giving a voice to the Island’s nonprofit sector.

The association provides professional development and technical assistance services to its more than 150 nonprofit members, helping guide groups in fundraising, development, management issues and more.

“SINFPA serves as a common voice and resource for the Island’s nonprofits to grow, develop and sustain their impact on the quality of life on Staten Island,” Mindy Duitz said. “It was founded in 2006 by a group of nonprofit leaders supported by funders and elected officials who saw the need for a formal network to serve this growing sector of the Island’s business and service infrastructure.”

Since May, Duitz has been serving as the interim executive director for SINFPA after the departure of longtime executive director Vin Lenza. The association is in the process of vetting candidates to lead SINFPA into its second decade after a successful first 10 years under Lenza’s leadership.

Lenza’s departure, executive director search

After SINFPA was founded in 2006, Lenza was hired as the first executive director of the association in May 2007 after working for the Staten Island Economic Development Corporation.

“After nine years successfully leading and shaping the organization, he made a personal decision to begin a new career,” Duitz said, adding Lenza is currently enrolled in a program to become an RN.

Whether with SINFPA for years or months, members agree they will miss Lenza’s leadership.

“The community is extremely sad to see him go,” program manager Shamise Quinn said. “He was such a good person and he actually played a huge role in sustaining relationships between SINFPA and different not-for-profits across the Island … He really dedicated a lot of his time and skill into this organization in order for it to succeed.”

Program manager Laura Delprete-Conde credits Lenza with understanding what it is like to be a working parent and never making her choose between her family and her job.

“He’s probably one of the best people I’ve ever worked for,” Delprete-Conde said. “Whoever is going to take that seat has big shoes to fill.”

While Duitz agrees Lenza will be a hard act to follow, she is excited to see what a new leader brings to the association.

“Following the first and long-time leader of an organization is always somewhat daunting. That person has an intimate knowledge of the history, as well as the members and the community that is unique,” Duitz said. “However, with a strong base and mission in place, it will be exciting for a new leader to move SINFPA into its second decade and continue to shape a vision for the future.”

Lenza could not be reached for comment.

Duitz has been enjoying her time serving as interim executive director for SINFPA. Her transition to the team was seamless, starting the week after Lenza left in the middle of May.

“I have enjoyed re-immersing myself in all things Staten Island, having come to the Island in the late 70s as the first director of the Staten Island Children’s Museum. After a long career in the museum field, I have been working most recently as a nonprofit management consultant and an interim executive director for arts and education organizations, so helping SINFPA is a good fit,” Duitz said.

If all goes according to plan, a new executive director should be chosen by the end of August. Duitz said they have received excellent applicants, and interviews will take place over the next two months.

“The board is seeking a good leader who understands the nonprofit world and is committed to the collaborative spirit that defines the Staten Island community,” Duitz said. “As a small organization, SINFPA works with many partners and will be looking for someone who enjoys managing all the details as well as shaping the vision.”

COAD, COOP and a future vision

There are two main projects under the umbrella of SINFPA — the long-established Staten Island Community Organizations Active in Disaster, and the newer venture, Staten Island’s Community of Opportunity Partnership.

The Staten Island COAD is a coalition of nonprofit and civic organizations dedicated to building organizational resiliency to sustain critical operations in times of crisis. It was founded after Superstorm Sandy.

“About 20 nonprofits got together during Sandy to assist Staten Island residents. They did things like providing services, food, counseling, mental health help — things of that nature,” Delprete-Conde said. “After Sandy, those same 20 nonprofits realized that they wanted to make a more cohesive plan and they wanted to provide their A-game. They formed the Staten Island COAD.”

Delprete-Conde came in as the COAD project manager six months after the group was founded. She said COAD creates relationships between nonprofits and agencies, which is invaluable during a disaster. During a crisis, they can reach out to one another.

“All of this really started from the support of the Staten Island Foundation. They heard of this idea and they said, ‘We’re going to support it and see where you go with it,’” Delprete-Conde said. “They’ve really let us run with it, and we’ve developed this project that other agencies are looking to model.”

Staten Island’s COOP is an education initiative headed by Quinn. The program’s goal is to ensure Staten Island youth and their education is a top priority.

“We’re utilizing our collective impact framework to increase successful outcome in early care and education,” Quinn said. “We’re working with other nonprofits to implement strategies and make Staten Island youth more successful.”

While the ultimate goal is to tackle the “cradle to career, K-12 spectrum,” COOP is geared toward children from birth through third grade. COOP is in its beginning stages and in the process of building a steering committee.

“We already have a handful of local community representatives that are committed and want to see this project move forward,” Quinn said. “We’re welcoming anyone who has a passion for creating more opportunities for education for the youth of Staten Island.”

Both COAD and COOP will be building in the future, and as far as the future of SINFPA as a whole, Duitz said the association is looking to move forward, too.

“SINFPA has the opportunity to expand its reach through collaboration with like organizations citywide and in the region, deepen professional development for its members, and advocate for the value and impact of the nonprofit sector to the Island and the city as a whole,” Duitz said.

For more information about the Staten Island NFP Association, visit www.sinfpa.org or visit the group on Facebook at www.facebook.com/StatenIslandNFP.