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  • Writer's pictureCameron Cochran

Impact Initiative Grows Community Service Leaders

Posted February 2, 2017

By Brie Handgraaf, Wilson Times Staff Writer

Impact Initiative class members mingle on Jan. 31, 2016, with local officials and nonprofit representatives at the first Leadership Mixer at the Wilson Chamber of Commerce.

Impact Initiative class members mingle on Jan. 31, 2016, with local officials and nonprofit representatives at the first Leadership Mixer at the Wilson Chamber of Commerce.

Impact Initiative class member Marvette Coley, founder of the Positive Women Positive Results and employee of BB&T, exchanges information with local nonprofit leaders and officials Tuesday at the Leadership Mixer at the Wilson Chamber of Commerce. Brie Handgraaf | Times

Marvette Coley is the founder of a nonprofit organization, but she also wants to help other groups.

That’s why she joined 14 others for a two-year leadership program whose members gathered with area leaders Tuesday to network about opportunities to help the community.

“I love Wilson. I was born and raised here,” said Coley, founder of Positive Women Positive Results, Inc. “Wilson is doing some great things and I want to be a part of it.”

The Impact Initiative started in 2015 as a partnership between the Wilson Chamber of Commerce, Wilson 20/20 Community Vision and Wilson Economic Development to train locals in the roles and responsibilities of positions with nonprofits and public service.

“The goal (of the Tuesday event) is to bring together participants in the Impact Initiative and introduce them to key influencers in the government and nonprofit sectors,” said Chamber President Ryan Simons. “We’ve designed this so that when opportunities for leadership service come available in these sectors, that participants and alumni from the Impact Initiative are given first consideration to fill those vacancies.”

Chamber board Chairman Gary Davis said he was pleased to see so many people with a heart for Wilson gather together and work toward a better future.

“I always think I’m busy, but then I hear from these guys about being involved in five boards and they want to do more,” Davis said. “To have everyone come together for the common good of the community is huge.”

When the idea for a group to mentor girls ages 13 to 19 popped in Coley’s head, she said she looked to others to fill the void before looking in the mirror and filling the void herself.

“I got some friends who were nurses and teachers together, who said the idea was great,” Coley recalled. “We had our first event with over 30 girls then the idea spread like wildfire. When we did it the next year, we had over 250 girls.”

Coley received her nonprofit status and is working to build programming throughout the year. Networking at the mixer Tuesday not only presented several partnership opportunities, but also avenues for volunteerism. Chip Futrell said Tuesday was a chance to put the knowledge gained through the Impact Initiative to work for the community through various involvements.

“Generally speaking, all the services that nonprofits provide would have to be provided by government if the nonprofits didn’t exist, so they serve public purpose and public good,” Futrell said. “Likewise, they need public input and public involvement to be successful.”

Futrell previously took a leadership program through Raleigh, but noted that the Impact Initiative is better at truly preparing participants to serve on boards as well as hold leadership positions within the tight framework of nonprofits. The program’s first class will graduate in May and applications are being accepted for the second Impact Initiative class, which will start in September.

“We know how difficult it is to find qualified volunteers to serve on these boards, and we want to make sure that community leadership has a pipeline of new leaders willing and able to take on service challenges,” Simons said.

To learn more about the program and apply, visit

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