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  • Writer's pictureDebbie Irwin

Ode to SCCF Staff - Anniversary Series

Updated: Feb 27, 2023

A letter from our Executive Director

As SCCF approaches our 15-year anniversary, I wanted to take some time to acknowledge the people who have been instrumental in making this organization what it is today. Throughout this anniversary series, I’ll be introducing and thanking some key SCCF board members, past leaders and staff, current staff, community partners, and of course, our clients, Shenandoah Valley Entrepreneurs. Without these amazing champions, we would not have been able to have the impact we have had on Shenandoah Valley entrepreneurs. We certainly haven’t always gotten it right, and we are always learning and growing, but I’m proud of where we have been and excited for what is to come. When I decided to do this series, I knew that I wanted to start with my current team. If you would have told me 5 years ago that I would have the privilege of leading a 12-person team of some of the most skilled and passionate people I know, I wouldn’t have believed you. It’s not just the number of people that is unbelievable, since I was a team of one back then, but the individuals themselves that said yes to taking a chance on a growing and evolving organization exactly one year ago. Here is my ode to them. Ryan, you have been dreaming and scheming with me for over two years now and I’m so thankful to have you in my corner. You’ve dealt with crazy grant writing seasons, numerous changes to your role, and not one, but two of my maternity leaves. You are the type of person that can put fears at ease and you are a natural at encouraging and guiding entrepreneurs. I admire your ability to bring our team together and am so thankful for you stepping in as the Executive Director while I’ve been away. Phil, I’m convinced we wouldn’t have made it through this crazy growth year without you. Your vast experience as an entrepreneur, your ability to build systems and make the details approachable, and your sage advice to me has been invaluable. I’m so impressed by your ability to guide our entrepreneurs through the numbers and know that your push to get it right will continue to better prepare us and our clients for the future. Katie, your passion, energy, and focus never cease to amaze me. You have such an innate ability to connect with those around you and you do an incredible job with planning, adapting, and leading all of our events. Our programs are better because you are around. I love your “never stop improving” attitude and your passion for Harry Styles. Anika, your ability to find the story is so cool. Your passion and skill for helping entrepreneurs shine has been a pleasure to read and watch over this past year. I can’t wait to see where those stories lead and how our partnerships across the region continue to deepen as you dive deeper into our entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Kristin, thank you for dealing with the unorganized mess I left you. I’ve watched you take our capital programs and truly learn and work to innovate. I know this has been no easy task but your ability to problem solve and your collaborative nature have been invaluable to this team.

Joyel, from Mary Baldwin student to SCCF employee, your dedication to our clients and our team is amazing. You are such a crucial part of our capital team and your admin abilities and your willingness to learn and try new things have continued to make us better.

Nick, from client to staffer, your passion for small business and entrepreneurship has elevated our ability to connect with new entrepreneurs. Thank you for your dedication to making sure entrepreneurs are heard, connected to resources, and their stories are told. I can’t wait to see where else the Innovation team goes next year.

Ashley, what would we do without you? I’ve come to love all your crazy TikToks but I’m also impressed by your ability to generate content, build our new website (!), and implement an entire rebrand while you were graduating from college and starting off in your first full-time role. Thanks for choosing us when many more options were available to you.

Angela, your adaptability and willingness to fill in where needed has been invaluable in this ever-changing organization over the past year. I’m also so impressed with your dedication to inclusivity and ensuring that we are building programs that truly help every entrepreneur regardless of background or abilities.

Randle and Cameryn, the ever-amazing interns. Thank you for dedicating your time in your already busy schedules to make our events and design successful. You truly are the prime examples of what this next generation is capable of and I’m glad you chose us for your internships.

I really can’t thank this team enough for helping bring to life an organization that I could only dream of. When so many community members got together back in 2019 to figure out where this region could go next, we envisioned many of the programs that you all have launched and continued to make better. As you know, I’m always thinking about the future, but that’s easy to do with this team. I look forward to seeing what SCCF accomplishes in the next 15 years.


Debbie Irwin

Executive Director

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