Our Stories

Nonprofit Academy: Starting Point 2023

Another Nonprofit Academy: Starting Point is in the books! Thank you to all our attendees, presenters, panelists, keynote, and our team who made it happen! Miss this year’s event, or just want to review what you learned? Scroll to find out more about this year’s presenters and view the resources from this sessions.

Thank you to our special panel Q&A on Organizational Excellence: Securing your organization’s legacy moderated by Jill Edwards, Commercial Lending Division Manager at United Community Bank.The panel featured Terence Chatmon, President/CEO of Victorious Family; Nesha Mason, Executive Director of The Drake House; and JT Wu, Founder/Executive Director of Preface Project.

Thank you also to our keynote speaker, Larry Campbell, CEO of Corners Outreach.


Leadership Development


Organizational Development

Meet the presenters

Brian Abernathy, General Manager, Convergent Nonprofit Solutions

Topic: Capital Campaigns + Gen XYZ Giving

A Georgia native, Brian Abernathy’s nonprofit career began in Gwinnett County, and he has been engaged in nonprofit programming and fundraising activities in communities across the northeast metro area. A graduate of Leadership Georgia’s Class of 2019, Brian has seen first-hand the community and economic development dynamics that are shaping the future of the Peach State. From education and healthcare to mentoring and human services and everything in between, Brian has worked with nonprofits of all types and sizes to secure funding to deliver outcomes that are transforming communities.

As General Manager for Convergent Nonprofit Solutions, Brian leads Convergent’s team of seasoned fundraising professionals providing services to clients around the country. In his 20-plus-year career working with nonprofits Brian has spent the past nine years in capital campaign management, and has helped raise more than $150M.

Linked In: https://www.linkedin.com/in/brianhabernathy/ and www.linkedin.com/company/convergent-nonprofit-solutions

Paige Havens, Change Agent

Topic: What Nonprofits Can Learn from For-profit Marketing

Paige Havens is a big picture thinker with 35 years of experience guiding organizations in marketing strategy, business development and community relations. The title on her business card reads “Change Agent.” Professionally Paige works as an independent marketing and community relations consultant serving a select group of clients. 

Through the years she’s been engaged in countless community development and policymaking efforts including Engage Gwinnett, SPLOST and transit referendums, Gwinnett Parks & Recreation Strategic Plan, and Georgia’s Return to Play Law. In 1999 Paige founded Gwinnett’s Great Days of Service, a legacy program that’s evolved into year-round service opportunities via Volunteer Gwinnett. Most recently she helped power Gwinnett Cares, a grassroots community initiative launched at the onset of the pandemic to care for our community through COVID-19, and led the charge to develop a new online tool, GwinnettHealthFinder.org, to connect Gwinnett’s un/underinsured population to quality, affordable healthcare. She is Vice Chair of Gwinnett Medical Center Foundation’s Board of Directors and a founding member of Northside Gwinnett’s Women’s Leadership Council. She’s helped champion bringing open-heart surgery, the Concussion Institute, the nation’s first Concussion Care-A-Van, a NICU ambulance, digital tomosynthesis breast imaging and much more to Gwinnett.

Heather Loveridge, Founder + Chief Storyteller, Magnolia Media Group

Topic: 2023 Nonprofit Marketing Trends

From an early age, Heather has always loved a good story. Over the past 20+ years, she’s parlayed her writing degree into a career as a writer, magazine editor and now agency owner.  She’s grown her business from a one-woman shop into an award-winning, full-service marketing agency, Magnolia Media Group. She and her team work with a variety of nonprofits throughout Gwinnett and beyond and understand the unique challenges facing nonprofits. They love providing clients – especially nonprofits – with marketing services that help them tell their story well. The result? Increased donations, engagement, support and public awareness!

Heather has a bachelor’s in commercial writing and started her career in Gwinnett. She also grew her family while growing her business. The result? Five wonderful kids who’ve been to many a work meeting as babies. Her biggest cheerleader, and a big part of her success, is her husband Brandon.

Linnea Miller, CEO, Long Table

Topics: Discovering and Using Your Leadership Voice

Linnea Miller is the president and CEO of Long Table, LLC, which builds healthy individuals and high performing teams who achieve greater alignment, expanded capacity, enhanced performance, effective communication and stronger relationships.

As a certified MBTI and GiANT Worldwide leadership coach and consultant, she draws from her experience in teaching, along with years of public service in local government, to facilitate an engaging and transformational leadership journey for her clients to experience lasting personal and professional growth. She has served clients in more than 100 companies in business sectors including manufacturing, non-profits, government and Fortune 100 corporations. Long Table was nominated as a Gwinnett Chamber 2020 and 2022 Small Business of the Year, and as Founder, Linnea was awarded the 2020 Moxie award for contributing to the Greater Good of the community.

Connecting people to people, and people to their place is a passion for Linnea. She is a three-term Councilwoman for the City of Suwanee, GA, serving since 2014. She serves on numerous non-profit committees and boards.

Dr. Emmett Shaffer

Topics: Fostering a Positive Work Culture + Self Care and Your Mental Health

Dr. Shaffer has held executive level positions with both the United Way of Metro Atlanta and the Fulton County School System. He is currently founder of The Mental Health Concierge, LLC in North Fulton County specializing in relationship coaching and mental health counseling for adults. Prior to opening his private practice, Dr. Shaffer worked with the Fulton County School System for seventeen years as a school counselor, assistant principal, principal, executive director for school counseling, social worker and graduation coaches, and area superintendent supervising 30 principals K-12, with a combined budget of more than 285 million dollars. Dr. Shaffer also worked as Vice President for Education with United Way with a budget of more than 15 million dollars and supporting more than 50 non-profits in the metro Atlanta area.

Dr. Shaffer earned a BBA degree in Business Administration, with a major in Management and Finance from National University in San Diego, California, a Master of Science degree in Counseling from San Diego State University, and a Doctor of Education degree in School Improvement & Leadership from the University of West Georgia. Dr. Shaffer is also a Licensed Professional Counselor, a Certified Professional Counselor Supervision, and a Private Pilot. Dr. Shaffer can also be heard on 104.1 radio, the Frank Ski morning show with Nina Brown where he provides parents and adults with expert advice for daily challenges.