Unsung Heroines: Allison Jordan

Allison Jordan Receives 2012 T. Kennon Roberson Award for Management Excellence in Non-Profit Health and Human Services


Allison Jordan, with Board President Chris Crawford of
Asheville Savings Bank at AFP National Philanthropy Day

Allison Jordan, executive director of Children First/ Communities In Schools, was awarded the T. Kennon Roberson Award for Management Excellence in Non-Profit Health and Human Services at the November 15 Association of Fundraising Professional’s National Philanthropy Day Awards Luncheon.


“I have known Allison for more than 15 years, and her passion has always been to help children and their families,” stated Amanda Edwards of the Red Cross, who nominated her for the award. “Her commitment to making our community a better place inspires me every time I am with her. Allison is one of the most committed, talented, and bright young professionals in our community.”


Allison Jordan has been with CF/CIS for the past fifteen years, serving as Executive Director since January 2006, and is regarded as an expert on issues facing low-income children and their families in Buncombe County. Ms. Jordan has created a more sustainable organization through internal capacity-building activities, utilizing the assistance of WNC Nonprofit Pathways, and building a strong Board of Directors. Partnerships and collaborations have been a key component of Ms. Jordan’s tenure, and contributed to the success of the organization. Ms. Jordan is also active in the community, having served on the Board of Directors of United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County, Buncombe County Smart Start Board of Directors, the Juvenile Crime Prevention Council, Gang Violence Prevention Project, and the United Way Highland Circle Steering Committee. In 2002, Ms. Jordan was appointed by the Asheville City Council to serve on the Asheville City Board of Education, where she held the position of Chairman for two years and led a five-member Board. Ms. Jordan has served on the Board of Directors for the NC School Boards Association, Bele Chere Festival, Junior League of Asheville, Asheville Day Nursery, and volunteered with The Mediation Center and a Red Cross Disaster Action Team. She holds a Masters of Science in Community Leadership from Duquesne University and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Asheville.


Jennie Eblen, community activist and local business owner, stated: “Allison is driven by CF/CIS’s mission and has the ability to both envision the big picture goals and understand the specific organizational structures needed to fulfill the mission.” In her letter of support for Ms. Jordan’s nomination, Ms. Eblen gave the example of how Ms. Jordan guided the organization through a strategic planning process in the mid-2000s that determined the need to emphasize advocacy as a core to CF/CIS’s mission. Ms. Jordan then identified funding for the organization’s advocacy work and hired a new staff position. “Today, CF/CIS has become a local and state-wide leader in child advocacy,” said Ms. Eblen.


“When people ask me why I’ve worked at Children First/CIS for 15 years, the answer is simple,” Ms. Jordan said during her acceptance speech. “Our vision of ending child and family poverty in Buncombe County; our unique strategy of blending day-to-day direct services and macro-level policy change; and – of course – the phenomenal Board, staff, and supporters who make our work possible. I am truly fortunate to be doing something I love every day.”


In January 2001, after a 36-year career with the American Red Cross, T. Kennon Roberson retired from his position as Chapter Manager of the Asheville-Mountain Area Chapter. He exemplified so many qualities of outstanding leadership in his field, the Red Cross Board of Directors established an annual Award for Management Excellence in Nonprofit Health & Human Services in his honor. A committee of citizens was charged with the administration of this award, which annually recognizes the valuable contributions of professional managers in non-profit health and human services agencies in Buncombe County.


Children First/Communities In Schools of Buncombe County is a local non-profit that provides programs to economically disadvantaged children & families. These include: Family Resource Center at Emma, Latino Outreach, Learning Centers, CIS Success Coordinators, Project POWER/AmeriCorps, Advocacy/Community Engagement. Children First’s mission is to empower children and their families to reach their full potential through advocacy, education and services. The mission of Communities In Schools is to surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life. To find out more go to www.childrenfirstbc.org.

Sandi Tomlin-Sutker
Written by Sandi Tomlin-Sutker