Jenny Warner has two hats that she wears in her effort to make the Miami Valley a better place.
Warner is the founder and executive director of the Miami Valley Nonprofit Collaborative, as well as the associate executive director of the Life Enrichment Center, which includes programs like the Leadership Development Institute. These groups do important work in the community, including helping local nonprofits, as well as Dayton’s homeless and recovering addicts. Warner has found a way to work from the ground up and balance all the responsibilities that come with these positions, while looking for ways to continue to help the Dayton community.
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Meet Jenny Warner, our Dayton.com Daytonian of the Week.
Your titles include the head of the Miami Valley Nonprofit Collaborative and the associate executive director of the Life Enrichment Center. Can you talk briefly about each of these and your roles within them?
As founder and executive director of the Miami Valley Nonprofit Collaborative (MVNC), I lead the development and delivery of programs and services that meet our mission — to build the capacity of nonprofit agencies and the effectiveness of those who work and volunteer in them. After four years of coordinating networking and training events that bring together area nonprofit professionals to learn, grow and explore partnership, I incorporated the MVNC into a separate 501(c)(3) nonprofit earlier this year. So in 2019, my duties expanded to building an awesome board of directors with whom I now I have the privilege of working. We are currently in our strategic planning season which will guide our efforts to expand services and supports to nonprofits. Our mission is to equip them to better serve THEIR missions.
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My title with the Life Enrichment Center (LEC) is associate executive director and I work alongside the founder and executive director of the organization, Jeff Sorrell. My role is to lead the development of new programs and services, help develop community partnerships, financial development and overall organization development and team building for our staff.
Is there any overlap between these groups? How do they work together?
The relationship between the Miami Valley Nonprofit Collaborative and the Life Enrichment Center is significant ..… and indicative of the work I love the most — community partnership development! When I started the MVNC four years ago, I had no money and no space — just the concept, a “rolodex” of the nonprofit professionals I knew, and passion for training and leadership development. So I went to my friend, Jeff Sorrell at the LEC, to see if he would allow me to host a nonprofit workshop in his large community hall. At that very first program, 82 people showed up and we were off to the races! I work full time for the LEC and part time for the MVNC — so my roles align perfectly. LEC continues to be one of our key partners of the MVNC to this day, along with the Better Business Bureau and Brady Ware & Company. Like LEC, the BBB has been with us since the start, serving as our fiscal agent the first few years and donating staff and system resources. Brady Ware & Company is our founding sponsor, helping not only to underwrite costs of our operations, but also supplying their staff experts to lead training sessions.
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What does an average day look like for you, or is it different every day?
Like most nonprofit professionals, my day looks different each day. I’m in my office, I’m in the community, I’m facilitating classes, I’m working in my recliner at home — each day is different. Providing leadership to two nonprofit organizations with strong strategic plans and forward-thinking board members keeps me on my toes!
What kind of work was done within The Life Enrichment Center after the Memorial Day tornadoes, and what did you learn about the Dayton community during that time?
Like many wonderful residents and organizations, the Life Enrichment Center was poised and ready to respond after the tornadoes. Our immediate neighborhood was not impacted other than power outage for several days. So our support to our clients looked much like what we already do on a regular basis — offer community meals, groceries and personal care items through our Choice Pantry, provide encouragement and support, and a friendly place to come to grow and enjoy community with others.
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What would a perfect weekend in Dayton look like to you?
I had that perfect Dayton weekend just last week! I enjoyed a lovely dinner at Wheat Penny with daughters on Friday night and cruised through the Celtic Festival. My husband and I saw a terrific movie at our favorite venue, The Neon, strolled through the Oregon District, and enjoyed drinks at the fabulous Corner Kitchen restaurant on Saturday. There’s no need to leave town to enjoy a lovely weekend — Dayton has so much to offer!
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What inspires you about the Dayton community, and how do you think it can continue to grow?
I love seeing all the restoration of beautiful historic buildings all around the city. Seeing the Arcade come back to life has been a dream of mine for years — can’t wait to see it happen! In my work, I meet and partner with SO many amazing nonprofit organizations with passionate team members who come together to do great work in our community. That kind of collaboration and genuine desire to see our city transform can’t help but make good things happen.