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Under new leadership, long-standing nonprofit resource continues to evolve and impact communities

CNE's new Executive Director, Dr. Mariane Asad Doyle
Terri Allard
Dr. Mariane Asad Doyle became CNE executive director in February 2024.

Dr. Mariane Asad Doyle was recently tapped as executive director at the Center for Nonprofit Excellence — a Charlottesville-based organization that provides mentorship, training and resources to strengthen nonprofits and build a healthy, thriving social impact sector.

When asked why she was interested in the position, she did not hesitate to respond.

“I love everything about impacting community,” said Asad Doyle. “I love the idea that we, as an organization, are going above and beyond in terms of impacting local community, impacting Central Virginia, and then thinking about what it means to impact beyond Central Virginia, as well, through some of our partnerships, and doing incredible work in those spaces, too.”

CNE was founded in 2005 by community leader Wendy Brown, a University of Virginia Darden School of Business graduate, with support from a core group of dedicated citizens. Over the last 15 years, the organization’s vision has evolved under the leadership of Cristine Nardi.

“CNE started as an idea to give nonprofits tools, training and resources so they could be more efficient and effective, make the best use of donor dollars and increase their community impact,” said Nardi, who stepped away from her role as the organization’s executive director in February to "open space for new voices, new perspectives, new ideas and new leadership experiences.”

Russell Willis Taylor, Wendy Brown and Cristine Nardi at 2014 CNE Board Academy
CNE’s former Board Chair, Russell Willis Taylor, Founder, Wendy Brown and former Executive Director, Cristine Nardi, at the 2014 CNE Board Academy.

Prior to taking on the role of executive director at CNE, Asad Doyle served as chief culture officer at the University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce, and as vice president of diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility at the Thomas Jefferson Foundation.

“We are deeply excited about Mariane joining CNE,” said Board Chair, Rev. Dr. Nathan Walton. “She brings a wide array of passions and skills related to relationship building, community-based programming and organizational management, but also has specific expertise in the roles of equity and advocacy in nonprofit practice. Mariane embodies a unique balance of conviction and humility that I am convinced will benefit not only CNE, but communities throughout Virginia.”

CNE expanded its services approximately ten years ago by partnering with foundations across the state. These organizations include the OBICI Healthcare Foundation, Cameron Foundation, PATH Foundation, and the Community Foundation for a greater Richmond.

“Now, almost 20 years on, and thanks to the commitment of, collaborative spirit among and deep partnerships with our members and the community,” Nardi said, “CNE has grown into an asset — a champion, learning partner and advisor for anyone seeking to build equitable, thriving and just communities.”

Currently, CNE partners with more than 900 nonprofits and funders statewide to provide training, consulting, leadership development and research data.

“I'm coming into ... what you might call, ‘CNE 2.0,’” said Asad Doyle, “as we pivot and think about, ‘What are the right ways to continue to support, invest in and love on our local community where we started, while also being mindful of our obligation to replicate what we do throughout the state and provide that same kind of support, both to nonprofits directly as members as well as to supporting our ... other regional capacity builders in the state? How do we lift each other up on a regional basis as well?’”

CNE’s approach to supporting a healthy social impact sector includes providing a variety of services to its members, as well as to the community at-large. The Board Academy — one of the organization’s flagship programs — strengthens organizations by preparing community members for board and committee service roles.

As Asad Doyle moves forward in the role of executive director, she is focused on listening, gathering information and learning from conversations with staff, partners, members and supporters.

“A big part of it is getting to know folk [in the community], and that — in and of itself — is incredibly exciting,” said Asad Doyle. “I think that we're already on an interesting trajectory, as an organization, of doing things really, really well. We've demonstrated that we've done them well, and we continue to excel.”

CNE’s annual Philanthropy Day — a noteworthy example of this work — brings together nonprofits, philanthropists and community members to celebrate giving through meaningful conversation and camaraderie.

The theme of this year’s event, “Reimagining Philanthropy Through a Wider Lens: Time, Talent, Treasure, Ties and Testimony,” expanded upon the “5 T’s of Philanthropy” — fundamental principles of giving which go beyond monetary donations — and honored Philanthropy Champions in the Charlottesville community for the second consecutive year.

“The idea behind Philanthropy Champions is to provide an opportunity for folks in the community to lift up their neighbors, their colleagues, who have done more for the community outside of their workday and continue to contribute in a variety of different ways,” Asad Doyle said.

CNE Philanthropy Champions
Ézé Amos
Philanthropy Champions were honored at the 2024 CNE Philanthropy Day event.

Seventeen Champions — whose time, skills and compassion have greatly impacted the Charlottesville community — were recognized this year. The gathering also included a panel discussion moderated by Charles Lewis, a 2023 Philanthropy Champion and host of “In My Humble Opinion” radio show, featuring three 2024 Philanthropy Champions.

“I'm very proud that what I saw at Philanthropy Day was a coming together of community and of people representing a variety of different kinds of organizations, a variety of different cultures, a variety of different disabilities and religions and all of the walks of life — and I loved it,” said Asad Doyle. “It felt like home. I think that's been my experience from day one at CNE, even during the interview. It has always felt like home here, and it felt like home in that room. I'm deeply indebted and grateful to the entire team of people that made that day feel like home.”

The CNE website provides information about the organization’s programs, services, mission and membership.

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