Visit our new PMA Nonprofit website!
March 3, 2022

147: Creating A People First Environment at Your Nonprofit (Stamie Despo & Tom LaFalce)

147: Creating A People First Environment at Your Nonprofit (Stamie Despo & Tom LaFalce)

147: Creating A People First Environment at Your Nonprofit (Stamie Despo & Tom Lafalce)


What are you doing to create a people first environment at your nonprofit? More than ever, nonprofit leaders must create a culture that attracts, orients, develops and retains talent.  Two leaders in the higher education sector who have traveled varying career paths now find themselves leading together. In episode #147 of Your Path to Nonprofit Leadership, Stamie Despo and Tom Lafalce delineate four aspects of creating a people first environment. They discuss how communicating your “why” properly will attract passionate talent. Successfully onboarding new hires lays the foundation for future success, as well as presenting a series of professional development opportunities allows for their growth. They explore conversations that focus on racial equity, diversity and inclusion, which they acknowledge can be difficult, but “you get better with practice,” Together they demonstrate methods everyone can implement to encourage an open dialogue and better understanding of these vital topics. 


Stamie brings over 20 years of experience in philanthropy with her to Cornell University. Her most recent venture before Cornell was as the Executive Director of Susan G. Komen for the greater Charlotte, NC, area. Stamie was a 2019 honoree for the Charlotte Athena Leadership Award for Service. Her focus in philanthropy is engaging donors in a meaningful and authentic way, creating a culture of philanthropy, building relationships and providing strategic leadership. Stamie holds a Bachelor’s degree in economics, Cum Laude, from Smith College, a Masters in Teaching degree, Summa Cum Laude, from Monmouth University, a Non-Profit Management Certificate from Duke University, and an Event Planning Certificate from UNC Charlotte. 


Tom is a 1994 graduate of Cornell’s College of Human Ecology, he joined the Annual Giving Program’s team in 2004. In 2016, he began to focus more broadly on Annual Fund Leadership Giving. In this role, he partners with Alumni Affairs and Development staff to ensure the successful annual solicitation of donors of $1,000 or more, works with College and Unit staff to set Annual Fund Goals, serves on Cornell’s Giving Day Steering Committee and supports the development committees of the Cornell University Council and the President’s Council of Cornell Women (PCCW).  In addition, Tom has served as the Acting Director of Annual Giving Programs on two occasions, in 2015 and from 2018 to 2020.