Connect, Learn, Grow with NetworkPeninsula

Shelley SmithBlog, Executive Coaching, Leadership Development, Predictive Index

By: Jamie McAllister


NetworkPenLogoSoutheastern Virginia is home to countless nonprofit organizations, each one devoted to a specific cause. Some are committed to finding loving homes for abandoned animals. Others support our nation’s veterans. Another may help children in crisis. Dozens of local nonprofits fulfill vital needs within our communities. But who is helping the nonprofits?

NetworkPeninsula has answered the call. Most nonprofit leaders focus on one organization, but NetworkPeninsula is on a quest to help all local nonprofits serving the Peninsula, by offering ways for groups to connect, learn, and grow.

“There are nonprofit resources on the Southside and in Richmond, but here on the Peninsula we are kind of stuck in the middle,” explained Karen Dutro, Executive Director of NetworkPeninsula.

In 2007 Karen founded NetworkWilliamsburg, which grew into NetworkPeninsula in 2013. The nonprofit helping nonprofits provides numerous resources for members, including weekly newsletters and updates about upcoming events, requests from community members wanting to volunteer with local nonprofits, educational sessions, and in-person networking events.


“Nonprofit executive directors, and their staff, have a passion for their work and for the people they serve,” said Karen. “Yes, they do need to run like a business, but they are also so much more. Their focus is not solely on the bottom line, it is on whether they are fulfilling their mission. They also understand the need to operate effectively and efficiently. Hopefully that is where our education, training, and opportunities to connect with local business partners can play an important role.”

Karen admits there is nothing sexy about NetworkPeninsula’s work as a capacity builder, but she isn’t in it for the glamour. She has a deep-seated desire to do everything she can to help nonprofits succeed. “I welcome any kind of nonprofit to become a member,” she said. “All programs are equal and there is no bias.”

Dues for NetworkPeninsula membership are based on an organization’s annual operating budget and include discounts for continuing education workshops, nonprofit board training classes, and seminar series. On Friday, May 20, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Courtney Buzzell of Proximo Marketing and Shelley Smith of Premier Rapport will lead a session in Williamsburg on networking for nonprofits. On Thursday, May 26, NetworkPeninsula will launch a pilot session for Peer Advisory Groups, with Shelley Smith at the helm, to be held in Newport News.

Built on the belief that strength is created through connections with others, the Peer Advisory Group sessions will allow members to pose their questions and concerns to others and receive honest feedback and best practices they can immediately implement in their own organizations.

“It is helpful for nonprofit leaders to recognize that they are often in the same boat as other organizations, regardless of size,” Karen said. “The small groups struggle with the same issues as the bigger organizations. By exchanging insights and resources, we can all help each other.”

Karen is excited to offer the Peer Advisory Groups to members. She has high hopes that the groups will grow and develop to meet the needs of the nonprofit leaders NetworkPeninsula serves. “Getting coaching help from Shelley will help nonprofits learn the different ways businesses and nonprofits think,” Karen said. “Shelley is really skilled at bringing people together. There is just so much potential for these Peer Advisory Groups.”

To register for an upcoming class, or for more information on how to become a NetworkPeninsula member, visit Contact Karen directly at 757-945-1285.

Stay tuned to the blog over the next several weeks as Shelley answers questions about best practices for nonprofits. If you would like Shelley to answer your questions, e-mail her at