Virginia Association of Fundraising Executives

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2021 Award Nominations Now Open!

Nominations are now being accepted for the 2021 Nina Abady Award and the 2021 Rising Star Award. Follow the links on the right for complete details on the awards and the nomination forms.

All nominations should be submitted by Friday, January 29, 2021.

Congratulations to our 2020 Honorees!

  • David Thomason (pictured below at left), Nina Abady Winner, and

  • Virginia McAndrew (pictured below at right), Rising Star Winner!


This year’s Nina Abady Award winner, David Thomason, has enjoyed a thirty-two year career with Special Olympics Virginia. After twenty years on the organization’s program staff, he joined the development team in 2007. As Special Olympics Virginia’s Vice President of Advancement, he focuses on building and stewarding relationships with individual donors throughout Virginia. His more than twenty years of work with Special Olympics’ Global Messengers (athlete ambassadors)—in Virginia, and at the Special Olympics World Games around the globe—fuels his work every day. 

David has been a VAFRE member since 2007, and served as President from 2013 to 2014. In addition to VAFRE’s Board of Directors, some of his past board service includes the Downtown Richmond YMCA, Hampden-Sydney Music Festival, and the Greater Richmond Association of Volunteer Administration. He currently serves on the board of Orthopaedic Research of Virginia and the advisory boards of Blue Trunk Foundation and The University of Richmond’s Institute on Philanthropy, where he teaches as part of that program’s Fund Development Institute.

An alumnus of the College of William and Mary, he has committed his professional life to non-profit organizations—first as a Peace Corps volunteer in Morocco, and then with the American Heart Association, before beginning his work with Special Olympics Virginia.

When not working, David enjoys music, travelling, biking, and hiking—especially when it involves time with his two adult sons.

Our Rising Star Award winner is Virginia (Layfield) McAndrew, the former Assistant Director of Development at The New Community School, a school for bright, talented students who are challenged by dyslexia and related learning differences. Virginia started her career in development as an intern at Episcopal High School in Alexandria, VA. She got her first official job at the Madeira School and then moved to Baltimore to join the Friends School of Baltimore development office. Most of her career has been focused on annual funds and volunteer management. She is a Richmond native, graduating from Collegiate School. She received a degree in Strategic Communications from Elon University. Virginia has been back in Richmond since 2017. 

Congratulations to both of our honorees!

Nina Abady Award

The Nina Abady Award is the most prestigious award given by the Virginia Association of Fundraising Executives (VAFRE). It is presented to a fundraising professional who has demonstrated utmost excellence in the field of development. The award signifies to individuals, organizations, and the greater community that the recipient has garnered the respect and admiration of colleagues throughout the Commonwealth for professional and ethical service.  

Learn more about the Nina Abady Award

Rising Star Award

The Rising Star Award is made annually to a VAFRE member who exhibits excellent potential and who has demonstrated remarkable talents at an early stage in their fund-raising career.

Learn more about the Rising Star Award

2020 Virtual Awards Lunch-In Video Available

Click here to watch the video of our Annual Awards Lunch-In on September 22nd as we celebrated the achievements of our 2020 honorees, Virginia McAndrew and David Thomason.  (58:30)

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