Latest Blog Posts

Our Year at the Foundation (2018-19)

September 11, 2018 / Catherine Nicholas / Events

July – August

  • Over the summer of 2018, we raised the funds to pay for an enhanced speed surface to be added to the track during its restoration in the fall this year.  This enhancement will add to both the quality and the longevity of the new track at Maggie Walker.  Working together with Coach Holdren, who himself donated $10,000 toward this campaign, we were able to raise the funds needed by the start of the school year.  Every student at Maggie Walker will benefit from the work being done to restore the track, which was in need of attention after seventeen years of heavy use.
  • We enjoyed catching up with alumni both in RVA and passing through (hi Liz!) at our July 2018 happy hour at Triple Crossing.
  • We started including job openings and networking opportunities submitted by alumni, current parents, and alumni parents in the alumni newsletter.  We’ve heard through a few grapevines that these openings turned into jobs for some alumni and couldn’t be more thrilled.  To submit one, please email alumni at mlwgsfoundation dot org.
  • We welcomed a new part-time development assistant, Kathleen Kostandin (’07).  Kathleen has been a very active volunteer with the Foundation for several years, speaking at Alumni Showcase in 2016 and 2018, serving on the Alumni Steering Committee, planning alumni events, and donating to the auction.  We’re glad we get to see her one morning a week!
  • We continued the ordering process for the materials for the Purnima Amin Physics and Robotics Design Center.  This spending falls outside our enhancement grant spending and thus represents and even greater financial contribution to MLWGS than is contained within the realm of enhancement grants.  This was all made possible by a major gift from Amishi Amin & Neil Amin ’96.
  • Suzannah ran individual orientation sessions with all our incoming Board of Directors members.  Two alumni are joining the Board of Directors this year, Neil Amin (’96) and Alex Guzmán ’07.  We’re grateful for their service.
  • The Foundation’s Events Committee had its first quarterly meeting of the year, as did the Marking & Development Committee and the Governance & Nominations Committee.  Thank you to our committee members for their service.
  • At the end of August, we hosted two Freshmen Parent Welcome events that help get new parents oriented at the beginning of their MLWGS experience.  Thanks to the Locke family, the Schweiker family, Julie Wade, the Events Committee, our Board members, and all the student volunteers who made these events so great.
  • We planned Reunions Weekend 2018 (October 5-7) and opened up ticket sales.
  • We had a little bit of time to clean out our office and storage closet and start our annual audit.  Not very exciting if you aren’t us, but pretty exciting if you are.
  • By the end of August 2018 (the second month of our fiscal year), we had given out over $43,000 worth of enhancement grants.  Enhancement grants form the bulk of our programming and provide support for faculty and students in a number of different areas.  This fiscal year represents our biggest enhancement grant commitment to the school in the Foundation’s history, and the pace of spending reflects how much awareness and utilization of the grants has grown over the past few years.


  • We had our first Alumni Steering Committee meeting of the year.  Thanks again to our new committee members Caroline Creasey (’12), Megan Morris (’13), and Adam Powers (’10).  We’re so glad to have you.  At this meeting, we were able to cement our alumni events schedule through December and discuss other issues relevant to our role as the alumni office.
  • We ran our first Alumni Spotlight feature of the year on Jake Zaslav (’16), who spent his summer interning at The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.  More are on their way!
  • We completed all the ordering for the Purnima Amin Physics and Robotics Design Center.  This significant upgrade was made possible by a major gift from Amishi Amin & Neil Amin (’96).
  • The Foundation’s Executive Committee held its first meeting mid-September.
  • The Foundation’s Finance Committee held its first meeting in mid-September.  The committee discussed the Foundation’s financial situation, reviewed its investments, and discussed policy updates to ensure the fiscal health of the organization and adherence to best practices.  Three alumni joined the committee this year, Steven Crowe ’04Anna McGuire ’04, and Adam Powers (’10).
  • The Foundation’s Board of Directors held its first meeting under the leadership of its new chair, Liz Blue (John ’17, Tom ’19, Eliza ’21).  This meeting allowed the Board to re-focus on the Foundation’s mission and vision and to hear from Dr. Lowerre and Dr. Ellis about what’s going on now at MLWGS and what’s coming next for the school.
  • By the end of September, we had disbursed $50,254 in enhancement grant funding.  This number includes $17,000 toward faculty continuing ed and professional development, $5000 to support student-run clubs and activities, $6800 in financial aid for school-related expenses for Dragons in financial need, $18,000 toward classroom instructional enhancements, and $3500 toward the cost of the upcoming first-ever AP Comparative Government trip to the United Kingdom.


  • We made our annual presentation to MLWGS faculty about the Taylor Teaching Award and the enhancement grant application process.  This serves as a refresher for most faculty members and an introduction for new faculty members, several of whom have already accessed enhancement grant funding for materials to enrich their instruction.
  • Reunions Weekend for the classes of 1998, 2003, 2008, and 2013 took place from October 5th – 7th.  In our role as the alumni office, we handle the bulk of the planning and logistics, while our volunteer reunion committees encourage their classmates to attend.  We had a great turnout this year and a wonderful weekend that kicked off at Fall Festival, followed by our annual all-alumni reception at Bottom’s Up.  On Saturday, we held an afternoon gathering at Triple Crossing and a reception at Art Works in the evening.  The Class of 1998 also got together on Sunday at Maymont for a family-friendly potluck.
  • We began the planning process for this year’s Night of the Dragon auction.  The Foundation is taking a bigger role in the auction this year than we have in the past several years and are glad to share that Board member and Development Committee chair Ginger O’Neil will be chairing the auction as well.  It is sure to be a big undertaking, but we’re excited!
  • On behalf of the committee in charge of the project, we shared a questionnaire with alumni regarding the planned mural to honor the life of Maggie L. Walker at the school.
  • We mailed our first 2018-19 annual fund letter, written by alumni parent Jennifer Law.  Jennifer is the mom of Spencer Law ’17.  Thank you to all the parent volunteers who came to stuff envelopes for this mailing.
  • We mailed in the check representing all contributions and pledges made through the Foundation to fund the enhanced speed surface on the refinished track.  The track at MLWGS is not only home to a running program with more than 32 state titles, but also serves as host to many partner institutions and community groups, which include Virginia Union University, Richmond Youth Track team, Richmond Special Olympics, West End Striders, and the Moore Street Baptist Church. MLWGS’s central location has also made us an ideal host each year for Track and Field Regionals.  This campaign didn’t just improve the track for students at MLWGS.  It will impact the Richmond community at large and help keep MLWGS an active part of that community.
  • Our October alumni newsletter went out via email.  If you didn’t get it and would like to, email alumni at mlwgsfoundation dot org to update your email address.
  • We started a job and networking board on our website.  To submit an item or to make an inquiry, email alumni at mlwgsfoundation dot org.
  • We met with artist Colleen Hall to talk about alumni involvement in the mural honoring Maggie Lena Walker that will be installed at the school this spring.
  • Invitations went out for this year’s Director’s Circle event.  This event honors and thanks donors of $750 and above.
  • The Alumni Steering Committee held its second meeting of 2018-19.
  • The Governance Committee held its second meeting of 2018-19.
  • Foundation staff began working to develop the 2017-18 Impact Report detailing our work, our mission, and our financials.
  • Our development assistant, Kathleen Kostandin ’07, gave birth to her first child, Juliet at the end of October.  Welcome, Juliet!
  • By the end of October 2018, we had disbursed $63,811 in enhancement grants to the school.


  • The Finance Committee held its second meeting of the year.
  • The Auction Committee continued the planning process for this year’s Night of the Dragon.
  • Faculty members interested in participating in developing the Shamin Speaker Series, made possible by an endowment gift from Amishi Amin & Neil Amin ’96, attended a productive, preliminary meeting to make recommendations for speakers and to discuss how to move forward with planning.
  • The Foundation recruited student volunteers at the annual Community Service Fair.  Students who volunteer with the Foundation can obtain hours without having to coordinate transportation to offsite venues, which can be difficult for many students.
  • The November 2018 alumni newsletter went out via email.  If you didn’t get it and would like to, email alumni at mlwgsfoundation dot org to update your email address.
  • We held our second annual Black Friday alumni happy hour at The Circuit.  Thanks to everyone who attended!
  • We had a successful Day of Giving on Giving Tuesday!
  • The annual Director’s Circle reception for donors above $750 took place on November 29th at the home of alumni parents Julie & Paul Weissend.  Many thanks to the Events Committee volunteers who made the event possible and to the Weissends for hosting.  Thank you to Dr. Lowerre, Suzannah Stora, and Alex Guzmán ’07 for speaking at the event.
  • By the end of November 2018, we had disbursed $65,864.22 in enhancement grant funding.  In addition, we made our $80,000 payment toward the refinishing of the track and completed the $50,000 worth of purchases for the Purnima Amin Physics and Robotics Design Center.


  • Our shortest working month, thanks to snow days and winter break.  December was all about processing end-of-year giving.  We’re so grateful to our donors for their support.
  • We published our 2017-18 Impact Report.
  • On December 26, we hosted the annual Alumni Holiday Party right by MLWGS at The Camel.  So great to see everyone who came!


  • The Board of Directors held their quarterly meeting in early January.
  • Suzannah addressed the School Advisory Committee.
  • We profiled Sarah Beck-Berman (’05), Cantor at Beth Ahabah.
  • In a small ceremony held at MLWGS, Mary-Dryden Maio (’18) and Thea Konefal (’18) were awarded the Izzy McKinney Scholarship in honor of the memory of their classmate.  Calvin Hogg (’18) presented the awards and spoke movingly about how both recipients embody Izzy’s love for the world and her passion for doing what’s right.  The Foundation facilitated the scholarship by collecting the monetary donations.
  • MLWGS parent and Foundation volunteer Julie Wade hosted the quarterly Events Committee meeting.
  • Suzannah addressed the Regional School Board on behalf of the Foundation.
  • By the end of January, over 100 auction tickets were sold and over 150 auction items obtained thanks to the Auction Committee, under the leadership of Ginger O’Neil.
  • By the end of January 2019, we had disbursed $117,375 in enhancement grant funding.  Along with the track enhancement campaign and the Robotics upgrade purchases, that brought our total direct support of the school to over $200,000.