Staff Spotlight: Leigh Nixon, 501(c)3 specialist

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We are so grateful to have Leigh Nixon come on board with us as a 501(c)3 specialist at The Exchange! For more than 30 years, Leigh has been in the business of nonprofits! Leigh is certified in Nonprofit Leadership and Management and brings a lifetime of knowledge to our organization.

Read along as Leigh shares about her knowledge of 501(c)3’s, her involvement with various nonprofits, and the passion driving her work!

Quickly, tell me a little bit about yourself. What's your background?

Leigh: My background: Served Chamber of Commerce Industry for past 30 years. Prior to Chamber work I was bank VP. The last position held was President/CEO for 16 years with the Simi Valley Chamber of Commerce, near Los Angeles, CA.  I am married and have 4 children and 10 grandchildren.

What attracted you to this work?

Leigh: While working in banking, I was a member of the Chamber of Commerce and realized how much this non- profit business organization assisted people and businesses. I was a volunteer and was so passionate about it that the CEO there offered me a position and so began a wonderful journey in the non- profit world. 

Tell us about a time in your career that you wanted something so badly that you were unstoppable in pursuing it. What obstacles did you overcome to get there?

Leigh: I began to serve on boards of other nonprofits and realized how much I enjoyed serving others. I went back to school to earn certification as a NP Specialist.  My first venture into the NP arena was when I discovered that in my new community, there was not a Boys and Girls Club there. As a single working Mom, I was taking my two children there in my former community. So I founded the Boys and Girls Club of Temecula, CA. and continued to be involved over the years.  

What do you wish other people knew about working in nonprofit?

Leigh: Something that I would want the Non Profit community to know is that everything is possible. Having a champion in your organization that brings the passion to the table is going to make something happen, so if you do not have that person, find them! That is also something you should look for when you are bringing on new board members. Passion for your cause is  better for the organization than money!

Is there an achievement or accomplishment that you are most proud of? Why?

Leigh: The achievement that I am most proud of is launching the Simi Valley Community Foundation (SVCF) in 2000. In 2013 the SVCF in conjunction with the City of Simi Valley began the process of an “Under One Roof” project that would house the Free Clinic, and 14 Non-Profits all in one building to serve the needy. This became an all involved community project which was one of the reason’s I wanted to bring it forward because an involved community that serves the needy was important to me.

One of the things I am most proud of in my life is being named Woman of the Year in 2007 for the State of California. A lot of the reason for the honor was my work in non-profit organizations and  I feel like  I really didn’t earn it without the help of the volunteers, staff and directors of those organizations. 

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What attracted you to working with The Exchange? 

Leigh: I am excited to be a part of the Exchange! I was on a tour with the Leadership Lincoln program through the Ruston chamber of Commerce when on one of the class days we toured non-profits. We visited the Exchange and when I listened to all the exchange had to offer, I knew immediately that I wanted to be involved with them. The work they do is so important in bringing the Non-profit community together.

What is your hope?

Leigh: My hope is that one day the Ruston Community will be able to serve the needy in an “Under One Roof” type of facility to truly help people with health, financial, or emotional support.