Stephanie graduated from VIP program in 1999, served on AAP Cabinet for past four years
By Bradley Roberts
When Stephanie Gloster moved to Atlanta in 1998 from Virginia, she knew that she wanted to get involved in community work in some way.
She was familiar with United Way —she was introduced to the organization at her previous company— but she wanted to find a way to serve in other ways outside of her donation.
“That was when I found out about the VIP program,” Stephanie says.
United Way of Greater Atlanta’s Volunteer Involvement Program has helped transform volunteers into community leaders for the past 25 years.
This is a program that raises a diverse group of community leaders to serve on boards of nonprofit organizations and in leadership positions in the Greater Atlanta area.
“It gave me that connection with United Way, and I liked the fact that it would train you for board service — that training has paid off over the years for me,” she says.
Stephanie went through workshops on fundraising, strategic planning, marketing and financial and legal decision making.
“Since then, I served on different boards,” Stephanie said. “I was on the board for transitional housing and homelessness, I have served as the director of technology for National Black MBA, Back on My Feet Atlanta, American Cancer Society Cobb and I’m currently on the Science, Engineering and Mathematics Link board.”
She is also on the Duke University Engineering Alumni Council and the Duke Alumni Association in Atlanta, Stephanie says.
“I had some times when I was serving on two or three boards at the same time,” she said with a laugh.
After serving on multiple nonprofit boards, Stephanie said she became heavily involved in United Way of Greater Atlanta.
“I got an email from [Senior Director of the VIP Program] Janice [Robinson] that she had sent out to VIP graduates talking about the [African American Partnership] and asking us if anyone was interested in serving on the Cabinet, and I sent in my application,” Stephanie said.
Stephanie was a graduate of the program in 1999. She was “very eager” to serve on a board, Robinson said.
“My goal is to make sure that all alumni have an opportunity to serve, so I always share with them open board opportunities,” Robinson said.
Robinson said she has helped Stephanie develop board connections and United Way opportunities since she graduated through the program.
“VIP trains community leaders like Stephanie to be effective board members,” Robinson said. “By doing so, community organizations become stronger and more effective.”
Stephanie was selected to serve on the AAP Cabinet. She has served as the membership committee chair and vice chair of the AAP affinity group. She’s currently wrapping up her term as chair, she says.
United Way of Greater Atlanta’s African-American Partnership was formed in 2000 after Dr. Johnnetta Cole saw there wasn’t enough leadership positions for African-Americans in Greater Atlanta.
Since its formation, AAP has garnered more than 1,000 members and raised more than $2.2 million annually for United Way.
AAP’s signature cause is powering the potential of African-American boys and young men toward academic achievement.
AAP Director Bryan Vinson said Stephanie “leads by example.”
“She sets the pace for the Cabinet with her unwavering commitment to community, leveraging networks to expand resources and drive toward innovation and increased efficiency,” Vinson said. “During Stephanie’s four years on the AAP Cabinet — two years as chair— our brand and presence in the community has grown exponentially.”
Stephanie said since she’s been on the Cabinet she’s seen the group expand to include more corporate sponsors, they have equipped six schools with after school-type activities they call, “Build a Library,” they hosted different youth mentoring events and have seen the annual Leadership Luncheon grow exponentially.
“Our largest fundraiser is the luncheon, and the first year we did it we had about 100 people in attendance,” Stephanie said. “We have more than 1,300 that attended the last one.”
Stephanie said AAP is a group that is important to her “because [AAP is] focusing on a segment of people that are often overlooked.” She has enjoyed interacting with the students over the years.
Stephanie was recently recognized for her service to the community with the Women of Excellence award from the Atlanta Tribune. She credits her time at AAP for helping her come out of her shell. It has helped her grow into her leadership roles as she’s taken on new career paths.
“Indirectly, AAP helped build my leadership skills and helped me with public speaking and community engagement,” she says. “I’ve met wonderful people and built lifelong friendships. I’m looking forward to attending different events after my time as Chair ends.”