Fenwick Broyard is Executive Director of Community Connection of Northeast Georgia, an advocate for non-profit organizations in Athens and beyond.
Fenwick has a Master’s of Social Work from UGA and a Master’s in Public Health from Tulane, and he came to Community Connection after two years developing and directing the Community Agriculture Program of the Athens Land Trust.
Fenwick’s childhood in New Orleans has had a huge influence on how he conducts himself in the nonprofit industry. He puts it this way: if you didn’t know how to hustle, you didn’t eat, and that do-or-die drive informs the entrepreneurial mindset he applies to Community Connections. Fenwick came to Atlanta after losing everything in Katrina, but returned to New Orleans to help with reconstruction before attending graduate school at UGA.
During his time at the Athens Land Trust, Fenwick led the Athens Community Garden Network, and spearheaded the establishment of the West Broad Farmers Market and Garden as well as the Young Urban Farmer Development Project. After learning that Community Connection was the Athens-based nonprofit which led the local response to Hurricane Katrina, he was especially inspired to join a team in strong support of his native New Orleans.
Wearing Many Hats
At Community Connection, Fenwick takes on every role possible, which he describes as par for the course in the nonprofit sector. He’s well-versed in all aspects of the operation, and maintains that he’s never had the same day twice.
Fenwick and his team have a clear mission: make sure that the community’s needs are met. The 211 hot line is an emergency hotline for personal crises people cannot remove themselves from, with about 20K calls coming in per year. Community Connection stays in touch with all community providers, and serves as the central line of contact for 600-700 agencies that provide social services support, pre-screening those that ask for help.
Community Connection positions itself as an information clearinghouse, and provides needs assessments for nonprofits. The team then uses that data to track community indicators and learn whether it’s moving the needle on issues in the community. Fenwick is also in charge of volunteer coordination and nonprofit development legs of the organization. The Community Connection info referral service is only as good as the agencies it refers, so his team acts as a broker of talent for professionals as well as students, and helps agencies with board and executive development.
Great Vision at Full Capacity
Fenwick admits that he asks a lot of his staff, but their success is fueled by an incredible vision: the deeper they get, the more potential they see. Fenwick can’t personally sustain the energy of the first few years, nor can his employees, yet they’re so committed they are more than willing. To expand his full-time staff, Fenwick plans to ride their successes and increase fundraising and fees for service work like needs assessments.
Our community needs a community plan. Most of our foundations decide what to fund based on grant requests, not necessarily community needs. We want to provide people with info. Big data for the nonprofit world.
Fenwick goes to every meeting he’s invited to attend, and involves as many agencies as he can to monitor data. His job — and the function of the whole organization — is to serve as a hub for nonprofits. His team is only as effective as the quality of their relationships, so he hugs everyone he meets, even the mayor. Ultimately, Fenwick’s commitment to the community is one he’d make to any community. The tragedy of Hurricane Katrina exposed to him that the city did not have a community plan, and Fenwick wouldn’t wish that failure on anyone. It only takes one unexpected event to show how fragile the net is.