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Virginia Association of Fundraising Executives

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Rising Star Award

The Rising Star Award is made annually to a  fundraising professional who exhibits excellent potential and who has demonstrated remarkable talents at an early stage in their fundraising career.

Award winners are selected from a competitive field of finalists who are nominated by VAFRE members, area fundraisers and board members. The selection committee convenes each year to review nominations and select the winner.


The recipient is honored at a special luncheon attended by representatives from across the Commonwealth. This luncheon provides a significant opportunity for those who have been influenced by the recipient-from colleagues to board members to other professionals in the field--to show their appreciation and gratitude.     


Criterion for Rising Star Award

  • Nominee must be a VAFRE member or AFP Central Virginia Chapter member. Membership may be verified in the on-line directory at or by e-mailing To verify AFP membership, e-mail

  • Nominee will be relatively new to the profession of fundraising. This is defined as 3 to 10 years as a paid fund development professional.

  • Nominee has shown outstanding professional and ethical service to the field of development.

  • Nominee has made a positive impact on his/her organization(s) and exhibits passion and commitment to the cause.

  • Nominee has shown innovation in planning and implementing a successful fundraising project.

  • Nominee demonstrates leadership potential.

  • Nominee has demonstrated interest in furthering their fundraising career through professional development opportunities.


  • Listing of achievements should not be limited to only one organization. Cumulative accomplishments, both vocational and avocational, will be considered.

  • Any member of the development field, including board members or other volunteers involved with a nonprofit organization, may make nominations.

  • Nominators can make as many nominations as they wish. Individuals may nominate themselves.

  • Nominees may be a member of the VAFRE or AFP Board of Directors but may not serve on the Awards Selection Committee. 

Nomination Process

  • Nominations should be made using the nomination form.

  • Nominations should speak to the above criteria as well as other career highlights and areas of outstanding service by the nominee.

  • Three letters of support will be accepted by hard copy or e-mail. One must be from the organization’s leadership and/or from a Board Member.     

  • 2024 nominations should be sent to the VAFRE Offices by e-mail,, or mail to P.O. Box 6605, Richmond, Virginia 23230, no later than Wednesday, January 31, 2024.                    

Rising Star
Award Recipients

Elizabeth Mason Foster (2023)
Leigh Busby (2022)
Sarah Young (2021)
Virginia McAndrew (2020)
Amy Clark Garmon (2019)
Susan Norkus (2018)
Alex Wiles (2017)

Allison Santos (2016)
Erin O'Regan (2015)
Shannon Hair
Jennie Reed Romero (2013)
Alexandra Moore (2012)
Ashley Dow Burton (2011)
Bethanie Constant (2010)
Aimee Koch (2009)
Cat Hulburt (2008)
Loren Hatcher (2007)
Carrie Kozonasky (2006)
Aaron McClung (2005)
Elizabeth Yost (2004)

© 2022 Virginia Association of Fundraising Executives (VAFRE).
All rights reserved.
VAFRE • P.O. Box 6605 • Richmond, VA 23230
Office/Fax (804) 368-3398

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