By Evan Ratke
When you work in human services as long as Margaret Nimmo Holland has, you learn that progress doesn’t come from a single person or effort, but instead from groups of people working in cooperation and inspiring each other across multiple fields at once.
Marketing and communications, advocacy and public policy: All are essential allies of direct-service work. Fortunately, Nimmo Holland, Lutheran Family Services of Virginia’s new Vice President of External Relations, has experience in each of these arenas.
“What feels great about this position at Lutheran Family Services is it brings all those things together,” Nimmo Holland says. “Having had experience doing public policy advocacy work, I now get to come to a direct-service organization that provides for people across the state and see for myself how public policy is implemented.”
To maximize those efforts, Nimmo Holland wants to first see as much of LFSVA as possible.
“I want to bring the knowledge I have — public policy, fundraising — and really learn from the people I’m working with about what that means at the ground level,” Nimmo Holland said. “I’m in learning mode right now. I want to see everything! We’re doing a lot of traveling and meeting people so that we can tell the story of what happens at Lutheran Family Services.”
A graduate of the University of Virginia, mother to a teenage daughter and two grown stepsons, Nimmo Holland has forged a 20-year career in Richmond — a career that’s taught her the virtues of approaching an issue from several angles simultaneously.
“I started out writing grants at the YWCA, and I really enjoyed it, but I was intrigued by public policy and the ability to have an influence upstream. Sometimes when we’re advocating, we think that funding is going to come down to serve people, but there are other barriers. So it’s helpful to have multiple perspectives.”
Nimmo Holland is always looking for the opportunity to help others tackle a project by means they might not be used to.
“The times I was able to help young people or their parents or family members advocate with policy makers is probably of what I am proudest. By learning the political system, how it works, and being able to translate that for people who have something really important to share and have them feel empowered, that totally fires me up!”
The chance to work with the people of LFSVA already has Nimmo Holland fired up.
“I have so much admiration for the work that the employees of this organization do with students, with individuals with disabilities, and with foster families. I think it’s incredible. I know that I am not wired to be able to do that work, but I do know I can help communicate that amazing work to other people and help get them to be invested and excited about it. The work is so important, and an important part of my job is lifting up the staff that is doing the work, as well as clients and the students so that they’re appreciated and that people want to invest in them. What I’ve seen already is just amazing; the dedication that people have, as well as the positive attitude. The employees that I’ve talked to who are doing direct service are so enthused about their work and the difference they’re making.”
And Nimmo Holland intends to take the inspiration LFSVA has given her already and run with it.
“People need to know how dedicated Lutheran Family Services is and how invested these employees are in helping the people we work with have abundant lives. Some of the work is very stressful, and I think it’s about recognizing that the people who do this work have gifts that they need to be celebrated.”