Two Virginia Nonprofit Leaders Receive Fellowships to Darden’s Executive Leadership Program
Ravi Respeto and Athena Gould named as inaugural recipients of the Commonwealth Fellowships to The Executive Program
Two senior leaders from Virginia’s nonprofit community have been selected by the University of Virginia Darden Foundation as the first recipients of the Commonwealth Fellowships, a new scholarship that covers the full cost of tuition to The Executive Program (TEP) at the Darden School of Business, one of the nation’s premier graduate programs for business and leadership.
Ravi Respeto, the president and CEO of the United Way of Greater Charlottesville, and Athena Gould, executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Central Blue Ridge, will be among the 2023-2024 TEP cohort whose session begins this October
“These two extraordinary nonprofit leaders have careers punctuated by a commitment to service, and we are delighted to offer them a place in this fall’s TEP program as the first recipients of the Commonwealth Fellowships,” said Ashley Williams, CEO and CLO, Executive Education & Lifelong Learning. “Given the collaborative nature of education at Darden, we suspect that not only will these two talented leaders benefit from the TEP experience, but that the entire cohort will find value by virtue of Ravi’s and Athena’s participation and engagement.”
Close to 100 applications from throughout the Commonwealth were received for the inaugural Commonwealth Fellowships.
The president and CEO of United Way of Charlottesville since 2018, Respeto’s nonprofit experience includes positions at the Piedmont Family YMCA, the Charlottesville Waldorf School and AHIP-Home Repair Nonprofit. She currently serves as the 7610 District Governor Nominee for Rotary and is the past president of the Blue Ridge Mountains Rotary Club. She also is a member of the board of trustees for the Miller School of Albemarle and a board member of the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce. She holds a degree in Communications with a concentration in Public Relations from George Mason University and completed a program in Business Marketing from Darden Executive Education & Lifelong Learning.
“I’m excited about this opportunity to participate in TEP, especially at a moment in time post-COVID where the landscape has shifted for both nonprofit and for-profit sectors, and as organizational leaders we are all working to figure out how to build organizations that are both responsive to the communities we serve and reflect the changing world around us,” Respeto said. “I’m very much honored and thrilled to be selected at a participant and am looking forward to working with my fellow TEP participants.”
Gould’s career at Big Brothers Big Sisters spans 13 years, first as chief program officer at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southern Nevada before assuming the position of executive director at Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Central Blue Ridge in 2016. She previously worked for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Las Vegas where her focus was on gang-prevention programs. She is currently a member of the board of directors at Common Ground Healing Arts. Gould received her Bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Science and English Language Studies at SUNY Old Westbury and a Masters in Nonprofit Management and Philanthropy at Bay Path University.
“We’ve been successful in leading an organization from the startup phase into one that is sustainable,” Gould said. “However, growing and scaling requires different aspects of leadership. I’m hopeful that my participation in Darden’s The Executive Program will provide a practical forum for my continued development as a leader. Receiving this fellowship is a great honor, and I’m thrilled at the opportunity to learn from both the faculty and my fellow students.”
Named by FORTUNE magazine as one of “10 executive leadership programs that should be on every business leader’s radar,” The Executive Program, led by Darden faculty, is an immersive experience that focuses on the whole leader. Participants will gain an enterprise perspective, a strategic vision for their organization and improve their mental and physical health with expert guidance.
The six-month program consists of two in-person modules – one two-week session in the fall on the Darden Grounds in Charlottesville and a second in the spring on the School’s Grounds in the Washington, D.C. area, UVA Darden DC Metro. In a virtual intersession, participants receive coaching and support on their business challenge project.
The 2023-2024 TEP cohort will stay at the just-opened The Forum Hotel Kimpton at Darden, which features a beautiful arboretum and botanical gardens with outdoor learning and reflection areas, as well as state-of-the-art classrooms and event spaces. During the virtual intersession, participants will be the first TEP class to pilot Metaverse technology. Faculty and participants will use virtual reality goggles in both classroom and social environments to enhance instruction and engagement.
About Darden Executive Education & Lifelong Learning
Darden Executive Education is a top-ranked, global provider of executive development. Delivered by the University of Virginia Darden School Foundation and taught by the Darden School of Business’ highly acclaimed faculty, Darden Executive Education prepares and inspires leaders to succeed through transformation and disruption in a global marketplace. Offering more than 30 open programs and partnering with leading organizations worldwide to develop custom business solutions, we provide personalized, transformational learning experiences at our locations in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the Washington, D.C. Metro area, as well as online.
The University of Virginia Darden School of Business prepares responsible global leaders through unparalleled transformational learning experiences. Darden’s graduate degree programs (MBA, MSBA and Ph.D.) and Executive Education & Lifelong Learning programs offered by the Darden School Foundation set the stage for a lifetime of career advancement and impact. Darden’s top-ranked faculty, renowned for teaching excellence, inspires and shapes modern business leadership worldwide through research, thought leadership and business publishing. Darden has Grounds in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the Washington, D.C., area and a global community that includes 18,000 alumni in 90 countries. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.
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