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Nominations Open for 2022 Awards!

As development professionals, we are all keenly aware of the high level of dedication and integrity that are so critical to the profession of fundraising. One of VAFRE’s goals - and privileges - is to recognize and celebrate the exemplary work of our colleagues. 

Now is the time to elevate those who inspire us daily, with a nomination for VAFRE’s Rising Star or Nina Abady Awards for fundraising excellence. Please help us honor our colleagues by nominating those among us who set the bar high and pave the way for us all.

Nominations are open now through January 31st.The process is quick and user-friendly. Get a nomination form and learn more about these awards, their criteria, past winners, and the process by following the links in the column to the right.

Congratulations to our 2021 Honorees!

  • Bobby Thalhimer (pictured below at left), Nina Abady Winner, and

  • Sarah Young (pictured below at right), Rising Star Winner!


This year’s Nina Abady Award winner, Bobby Thalhimer brings a broad range of experience to The Monument Group, which he joined in 2015. He served for 16 years as Senior Vice President for Philanthropic Services at the Community Foundation. During his tenure, the Community Foundation grew in asset size from approximately $250M to over $900M at its peak. Prior to joining The Community Foundation, Bobby served for six years as Executive Director of the Science Museum of Virginia Foundation and for one year as Deputy Director for Science Education of the Science Museum of Virginia. During that time, the museum completed a $36 million capital campaign in just three years and grew its endowment from $600,000 to $11 million. He orchestrated the initial capital campaign for the new Danville Science Center, raising $1 million in the local community, and served on the board of the Science Museum of Virginia Foundation, including a term as President. He was also appointed by Gov. Douglas Wilder to the Science Museum of Virginia’s Board of Trustees.

Bobby has served on a variety of nonprofit boards since the 1970’s, and is presently a board member and Co-Chair of the Investment Committee of the Richmond Memorial Health Foundation. He also presently serves on The Richmond Forum Board of Directors and Executive Committee, and he co-chairs its Search Committee for the next Executive Director.

Bobby graduated from Williams College in 1974 with a major in economics, and he received his MBA from University of Richmond. He is also a 1997 graduate of Leadership Metro Richmond.

Our Rising Star Award winner is Sarah Young who joined the Peter Paul team in October 2018 and currently serves as Director of Development. Her experience includes running annual giving campaigns, managing a prospect pipeline, developing communications and marketing plans, stewarding donor relationships, and evaluating and monitoring development strategies.

Prior to joining Peter Paul, she was the Associate Director of Development at Esperanza Academy, a tuition-free, independent middle school for girls in Lawrence, Massachusetts. In her role, Sarah increased grant revenue 100% and broadened the base of support to the greater Boston region. Prior to that, she worked as a philanthropic consultant at The Boston Foundation, working directly with donors to increase the impact of their philanthropy, while also working to promote effective philanthropy through thought leadership, cutting edge research, and philanthropic education programs.

Sarah holds a bachelor’s degree in Spanish from Dickinson College. She is a graduate of the Emerging Nonprofit Leaders Program, which is a year-long professional development program for those working in the nonprofit sector, and a member of the project:HOMES Young Professionals Board.

Congratulations to both of our honorees!

Click here to view the video (1:01) of our May 4th Awards Lunch-In

Nina Abady Award

The Nina Abady Award is the most prestigious award given by the Virginia Association of Fundraising Executives (VAFRE). It is presented to a fundraising professional who has demonstrated utmost excellence in the field of development. The award signifies to individuals, organizations, and the greater community that the recipient has garnered the respect and admiration of colleagues throughout the Commonwealth for professional and ethical service.  

Learn more about the Nina Abady Award

Rising Star Award

The Rising Star Award is made annually to a VAFRE member who exhibits excellent potential and who has demonstrated remarkable talents at an early stage in their fund-raising career.

Learn more about the Rising Star Award

2020 Virtual Awards Lunch-In Video Available

Click here to watch the video of our Annual Awards Lunch-In on September 22nd as we celebrated the achievements of our 2020 honorees, Virginia McAndrew and David Thomason.  (58:30)

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