Shake-up at Asheville nonprofit Green Opportunities, which plans search for new executive director


The Asheville nonprofit Green Opportunities is set to announce a search for a new executive director following a restructuring. The nonprofit’s two co-directors – DeWayne Barton and Dan Leroy – will step back but stay involved in the organization, according to nonprofit spokesman Billy Schweig.

A timeline for the change and details of the search were not immediately available. Green Opportunities is also refocusing its programming, Schweig said.

Green Opportunities has been a darling on Asheville’s active nonprofit scene. It has landed millions of dollars in grants and funding for its programs. It’s most high-profile project over the past two years has been a $4 million renovation of the Reid Center, an aging community center on Livingston Street. The project is moving forward, with Green Opportunities plan to move into new offices in the building in coming days, Schweig said.

The changes follow long-range planning on the part of the nonprofit’s board, Schweig said. Green Opportunities is financially as strong as it has ever been, Schweig said.

More about Green Opportunities from its website:

Green Opportunities helps youth and adults living in poverty get and keep jobs that support their families and improve community and environmental health.

Food-Related Social Enterprise Incubation
In collaboration with local partners, Green Opportunities is providing support and start-up capital for three food-related social enterprises: an urban agriculture enterprise, a community kitchen, and a grocery store. These ventures seek to address food insecurity by improving access to fresh, affordable, nutritious foods in Asheville’s food deserts, create jobs, and empower low- income individuals to participate in food security .

Boosting stakeholder assets and resource networks
We don’t just train residents of low-income neighborhoods, we engage them on multiple levels, working to help build community capacity and completing hands-on projects that make these neighborhoods healthier and more sustainable. With block parties, community meetings, mobile marketing campaigns, youth “street teams” and other activities, GO is working to build inclusive, community-based solution to environmental and economic problems. Our primary strategies for impact include:

• Public education and activation within the greater community to support our programs and trigger institutional change
• Novel and effective partnerships that bridge neighborhood resource gaps and build capacity
• Youth engagement and job-readiness activities that leverage and connect existing community resources

Here’s the note that Green Opportunities sent out Monday afternoon. This message was signed by the co-directors, DeWayne and Dan:

Those of you who have been with us since the beginning likely know the story of how the two of us joined forces to launch Green Opportunities (GO) in 2008. With a shared vision and a concept of sustainability that included opportunity, justice and hope, we sought to fill a real and urgent void in Asheville’s economic landscape. This improbable partnership—uniting two very different people with vastly different perspectives and life experiences—yielded remarkable results. We leveraged each other’s strengths and compensated for each other’s weaknesses to build the strong and stable organization that Green Opportunities is today.

Six years later, the time has come for us to make room for new leadership. Together with our Board of Directors, we decided that it is in GO’s best long-term interest to shift to a single Executive Director model. And because we share an equal stake in GO’s past and future, it is only fitting that we step aside together. We will therefore begin the search for a new Executive Director this summer. In the meantime, we are committed to staying in our current roles until the transition is complete. Furthermore, we will both maintain active roles in the organization once a new Executive Director is in place.

It would be an understatement to say that it is an exciting time for the organization. With the help of partners and our community, we recently completed a yearlong strategic planning process that increased our capacity and gave us a renewed focus around who we are as a nonprofit and what we want to achieve. With this plan, GO restructured its training programs, renewed its focus on leadership development and launched several new partnerships in order to serve more people and achieve greater results. Our budget and balance sheet have never been stronger, with many new businesses, individuals and foundations investing in our work. Most notably, GO is primed to begin operating our training programs from the newly renovated, LEED-Certified W.C. Reid Center in August.

It is precisely because of these new investments in capacity and strategic planning that we believe now, as we enter the next chapter for GO, is the right time for this transition to take place.

We are both humbled to have helped transform our values and vision into the tangible reality that GO is today. To date, GO has trained more students (500+), facilitated more employment and educational opportunities (350+) and collaborated with more amazing organizations than we could have ever imagined. Moreover, GO has helped to pioneer an innovative model of community-based construction on the Reid Center that will strengthen the Asheville area for decades to come. Most importantly though, we have built GO’s reputation as a place where people facing the toughest odds can come to gain the hope, skills and confidence they need to transform their lives and their communities.

Launching and growing this organization over the last six years would not have been possible without the commitment and enthusiasm of each of you. We wish to thank our staff members, board members, community and business partners, volunteers and the countless other individual supporters who have made this improbable journey a reality. We look forward to being a part of GO’s next chapter – and continuing the real hustle of building a strong and inclusive WNC economy – together.