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Emerging Nonprofit Leadership Accelerator

ENLA is designed to provide professional development, career coaching and a robust leadership pipeline throughout the nonprofit sector in the broader Capital Region. Emerging leaders, program coordinators, and new managers will have the opportunity to receive early career advisement and training from industry experts, preparing themselves for future leadership roles.

Candidates for ENLA 2019 must commit to completion of the full six month training that begins January 11, 2019 and runs for full days the second Friday of each month. The final full day of training will conclude with a graduation event on June 14, 2019.

What Does ENLA Do?

  • Provides nonprofit leadership training and resources through 12 professional development workshops over 6 months. 
  • Develops a supportive network of mutually benefitting connections with a mentor, experienced trainers, and a cohort of peers. 
  • Delivers sector guidance and advice through one-on-one mentorship and career coaching sessions.

The Emerging Nonprofit Leaders Accelerator is a program to attract people in early career and program positions in Capital Region nonprofits and provide them resources, support and a network to succeed and stay in the sector. Upon completion of the program, Fellows will be better prepared to take on capacity building roles, prevent burnout, avoid leaving the sector, and stand ready to take leadership positions when they become available.

Thank You to Our Program Underwriters

ENLA is generously underwritten by the Michaelson Family Fund of the Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region, Linda G. Toohey Donor Advised Fund of the Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region, and Community Impact Fund of the Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region, and MVP Health Care.


The Institute of Nonprofit Leadership And Community Development is Proud to Present Our 2019 Fellows:


Samantha Adkisson

Samantha Adkisson, Hope 7 Community Center

Samantha Adkisson moved to New York from Louisiana in 2005. She studied Business Administration at both HVCC and University at Albany. Through a service learning project in college, she began working in an after school program. When her supervisor retired, she took over as program director while substitute teaching. While Samantha loved making an impact in the lives of the youth she worked with, she was looking for a challenging position with a wider impact to broaden her skill set. That’s how she ended up at Hope 7 Community Center in 2013 where she recently took over as Executive Director.

Lauren Axford

Lauren Axford, The Pine Hollow Arboretum

Lauren Axford is the executive director of The Pine Hollow Arboretum (PHA), a 20+ acre public arboretum located in the historic hamlet of Slingerlands. Ms. Axford serendipitously met PHA founder Dr. John Abbuhl in 2013 and knew she found her niche. Prior to working in the nonprofit sector, she could be found traversing the wild areas of New Jersey and New York, collecting seeds of native plants for field propagation and environmental restoration projects in New York City. A lifelong musician, Ms. Axford enjoys creating music with her husband Brian and spending time with her children Isis, James and Eden.

Kyle Azzara

Kyle Azzara, The Double H Ranch

Kyle was raised in Hershey, Pennsylvania and now lives in Saratoga Springs, New York. He is passionate about helping kids with critical diagnoses have fun and build confidence. As the Development and Events Assistant at the Double H Ranch, he is able to put that passion to work by maintaining the donor database, enacting innovative fundraising strategies, and contributing to powerful marketing campaigns. His start in the nonprofit space came at Penn State University, where as a student he served on the Executive Committee for the Penn State Dance Marathon and interned with the Division of Development and Alumni Relations. Kyle holds a bachelor's degree in Immunology and Infectious Disease from Penn State.

Hillary Cote

Hillary Cote, Friends of Bassett, Inc.

Hillary Cote graduated from Hartwick College with a bachelor's degree in history. She is the database manager at the Friends of Bassett, an organization that raises funds to augment programs and projects for the Bassett Healthcare Network. At the Friends, she manages the Raiser’s Edge database for six hospitals, two dozen clinics, and school based health centers. She grew up in Worcester, MA, and now lives outside of Cooperstown with her rescue dog, Kallie, and her husband.

Jen Cullen

Jennifer Cullen, Proctors

Jen Cullen presently works as the Relationships Assistant for the Proctors Collaborative where she handles donor relations, is the staff liaison to both the Proctors and Capital Repertory Theatre Board of Directors, and the Clerk of the Board for The UpState Theatre Coalition for a Fair Game. Originally from Goshen, NY she went to Siena College, graduated in 2013, and after a brief stint away, moved back to the Capital Region and couldn’t be happier. She’s grateful to Jonathan and Pamela for this opportunity and wants to thank her mom and dad for always believing in her.

Nicole Dama

Nicole Dama, National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals

Nicole Dama is originally from the Hudson Valley, but fell in love with the Capital Region while attending the College of Saint Rose. After receiving her bachelor’s degree in communication, Nicole cultivated a passion for working with nonprofits with the Albany Tulip Court. She has held positions with the Office of General Services, Albany Institute of History and Art, NYS Rehabilitation Association, NYS Coalition for Children’s Behavioral Health, and The Regional Food Bank of Northeastern NY. Nicole is currently the Office and Communications Manager at the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals and resides in Troy.

Pearl Higgins

Pearl Higgins, CEO

Pearl Higgins is the Marketing and Communications Director at CEO in Troy, NY. Over the last decade, Pearl has honed her marketing and communications skills through a variety of nonprofit positions (with CEO, Equinox, and the Palace Theatre), and a few years of managing a small client services team at a local marketing agency, Outspoken Media. Pearl holds a Bachelor of English from Skidmore College, and an Master of Children’s Literature from Simmons College. In her free time, she enjoys running, and volunteering at an equine rescue organization in Chatham, NY.

Kat Jenkins

Kat Jenkins, Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood

Driven by an innate desire to help others and an ever growing passion for helping under-served communities, Kat is thrilled to join the ENLA program. Currently the Health Center Coordinator at Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood, Kat has been tending to the team at UHPP since Fall of 2013. Kat is a Capital Region transplant, originally hailing from Maryland's Greater Metropolitan area. They are motivated to promote healthcare equity and social justice through programs that provide education and informed consent and ultimately focus on the choice of the individual.

Aaron Marquise

Aaron Marquise, Contemporary Circus and Immersive Arts Center, Inc.

Originally from Round Lake, New York, Aaron grew up performing at the New York State Theatre Institute where he interned his senior of high school. He went on to receive a bachelor's degree in musical theatre with a minor in playwriting at Marymount Manhattan College. After discovering the circus world, he auditioned at the National Circus School in Montréal, Canada where he graduated in 2015. Since joining the circus world he has performed in Quebec, France, Switzerland, and Germany. Aaron currently serves as the Executive Director of the Contemporary Circus and Immersive Arts Center, Inc. a non-profit based in Troy, NY.

Geoffrey Miller

Geoffrey Miller, SEAT Center

Geoffrey Miller is the Workforce Development Specialist at the SEAT Center in Schenectady. His work focuses on career placement for students that graduate its programs, and business and community development to strengthen SEAT’s position in the Capital District. Before coming to SEAT, Geoff was the Director of Development at the Albany Symphony and Director of Development at Hudson Valley Community College. In 2017, he received the Association of Fundraising Professionals Outstanding Young Professional Fundraiser award. Geoff earned a Bachelor of Arts in piano performance and a Master of Education in Higher Education Administration and Leadership from the College of Saint Rose.

Jordan Munn

Jordan Munn, Partners in Performance Excellence

Jordan Munn is Executive Director of Partners in Performance Excellence, a 501(c)3 nonprofit that promotes performance excellence through the proven Baldrige Framework (www.partnerspex.org). Ms. Munn has a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering (Case Western Reserve University) and Master of Science in Chemical Engineering (Cleveland State University). She has several years of process improvement experience in the corporate world, implementing process improvements, leading and coaching teams, as well as teaching various methods of process improvement. She has Baldrige examiner experience at the corporate, regional, and national level. Ms. Munn is passionate about performance excellence!

Jennifer Nelson

Jennifer Nelson, YWCA of GCR, Inc.

Jennifer Nelson has spent the last 15 years working in the nonprofit world. She is currently the Housing and Economic Empowerment Coordinator at the YWCA-GCR, Inc. in Troy, NY. In this position, she provides advocacy and support to all 5th floor residents and coordinates the Jamison-Rounds Ready for School program, and the Signature program. In her free time, she likes to travel (locally and internationally), read, and spend as much time as she can at the beach. She is excited to be part of ENLA!

Michael Snyder

Michael Snyder, American Red Cross

Michael T. Snyder, a Rochester native and a Capital Region resident, currently serves as a Program Director for the American Red Cross’s New York State AmeriCorps Program. Michael has committed his career to serving the Capital Region and New York State’s communities by assisting in efforts to ensure services are being provided to those in need. Having specialized in National Service programming, program management, and non-profit advocacy, Michael is interested in demonstrating the impact nonprofit and public service has on our communities. When not glued to a computer screen, Michael enjoys exploring new places and keeping informed on current events.

Jinelle Thompson

Jinelle Thompson, Mackin & Casey, LLC

Jinelle Thompson is the Director of Operations at Mackin & Casey, LLC an association management firm based in Albany. Jinelle oversees company operations and supports the firm principals through document development, task and project planning, and client/member interactions. Jinelle is committed to giving back to her community. She is a founding Board member of the Capital Region West Indian Association (CRWIA), a Board member of the Electric City Barn, and a member of the Junior League of Albany. She is also a mentor with the Capital Region Sponsor a Scholar program. Ms. Thompson holds a Bachelor of Art in Political Science and Sociology from University at Albany.

Agnes Zellin

Agnes Zellin, The Wizard's Wardrobe

Agnes Zellin is the part-time Executive Director of The Wizard’s Wardrobe, a one-to-one literacy tutoring program in the South End of Albany. She is also a National Board and NYS Certified teacher, a teacher consultant for the Capital District Writing Project, a faculty member for the Capital Area School Development Association, and has taught at Siena College. Prior to teaching, Agnes directed policy and research on local, state, and federal policy issues in child welfare and early care and education, and worked on initiatives, including the NYS Child Care that Works Campaign, Winning Beginnings, and Universal Prekindergarten.