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Virginia Association of Fundraising Executives

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2024 Award Nominations are Now Open!

Follow the links below at right for complete details and the nomination forms.

Congratulations to our 2023 Honorees!

  • Nina Abady Honoree Brian Thomas (pictured below at left)
  • Rising Star Honoree Elizabeth Mason Foster (pictured below at right)

    Brian Thomas joined the Medical College of Virginia (MCV) Foundation staff in 2009 as Senior Executive Director of Development and was promoted to Vice President and Chief Development Officer in 2015.  Before joining the MCV Foundation, Brian was the Vice President for the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Engineering Foundation. Brian has more than 39 years of fundraising experience and has served in leadership positions in national organizations, including the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) and the American Bar Association Section for Institutional Advancement.   In 2020, Brian received the CASE District III Distinguished Service Award and was inducted into the CASE Laureates community. Brian has served as president of the Virginia Gift Planning Council since 2021.  During his career, Brian has worked for Hampden-Sydney College, the University of Richmond, Stetson University College of Law and Vanderbilt University.  Brian earned his M.B.A. from the University of Richmond and his B.A. in economics from Hampden-Sydney College. As Vice President and Chief Development Officer for the MCV Foundation, Brian works with donors to secure principal, major, and planned gifts for the benefit of the MCV Campus, including five health sciences schools, Massey Cancer Center, VCU Hospitals and other centers and programs.

    Elizabeth Mason Foster is the Director of Development at St. Joseph’s Villa, where she has been since 2016. A native of Richmond, Elizabeth is passionate about serving our community, and loves being able to affect change by connecting community members and leaders with the real needs of our neighbors. Elizabeth has been involved with other local organizations including St. Andrew’s School, the Virginia Home for Boys and Girls, Fellowship of Christians in Universities and Schools (FOCUS), and the Virginia Museum of History and Culture. She currently serves on the VAFRE Board of Directors and is a member of Leadership Metro Richmond’s class of 2023. Elizabeth graduated from Collegiate School and Sewanee: The University of the South.  

    Congratulations to both of our honorees!

    Click here to view the video (1:02:24) of our May 3, 2022 Awards Program and Presentation

    Click here to view the video (1:01) of our May 4th, 2021, Awards Lunch-In

    Click here to view the video of our Annual Awards Lunch-In on September 22nd 2020.  (58:30)

    Click here to view the video (1:00:22) of our May 2, 2023 Awards Reception.

    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

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