March 11, 2024

Search for Development Director Yields High-Energy Hire

By: Derek Maul

The Foundation’s search for a Director of Development started with a comprehensive job description guaranteed to inspire the best and deter the unqualified. Daunting job description, meet Elena Nicholas.

From her blue chip resumé, to her grasp of the big picture, to her dynamic interpersonal skills, to her vibrant faith, Nicholas is more than a match for the vision President Ed New and the board has crafted.

“We had a number of highly qualified candidates apply for the position,” New said. “However, Elena’s diverse gifts for ministry really established her as the best person for this role.”

It’s a view shared by Lakeland’s First Presbyterian Church, where Nicholas has managed the thriving congregation’s business affairs since 2009.

“I cannot speak highly enough about the faith, strength, character, and skill of Elena Nicholas,” wrote senior pastor John Fullerton. “She is a wonderful leader whom I value, respect, and trust… She is mission-first, brilliant, highly relational, and has a great sense of humor. On the job, I marvel at her ability to move effortlessly between granular to global level work…”

Nicholas can hardly contain her excitement. “After meeting with President Ed New, the board, the staff, all of it together made me feel excited about the journey ahead. To really make a difference. There’s a vision Ed has along with the board. I’m excited to implement and be the hands and feet that make it happen.”

That sense of passion and commitment are palpable, animating her conversations and her work.

Ed New agrees: “Her energy, strategic vision, outgoing nature, extensive experience in local church operations and finance, and deep faith are all qualities that will serve the Foundation’s current and future partners well moving forward.”

The role of development is all about rekindling and growing relationships, New explained. As President, he is confident Nicholas’s unique energy for shared ministry will break new ground in growth and effectiveness.

“She will set the agenda,”  New said, “casting her vision and spearheading efforts as to how. Our micro-strategic plan is all about focusing on relationships first, about being present with our ministry partners.”

Coming to the Foundation, Nicholas said, fires her imagination and creative energy. “Taking everything on my resumé, bringing it to this point, and saying ‘That’s why I did all that!’”

With a history that includes extensive portfolio management, consulting, sales and entrepreneurial success, Nicholas has a deep well of experience to draw from.

“I am pumped,” she continued, “to come on board and help implement this vision. It is creative and exciting to meet new people and new churches and grow these partnerships. The Foundation has great products and services.”

“Elena has a deep understanding of the nature of both the church and faith-based non-profits,” Ed New concluded. “We are hiring that energy to focus outward.”

Nicholas, who calls herself “a proud Cheesehead” from Wisconsin has been married to her husband Nick for 33 years. Their two daughters, Sophia and Mary Grace, are enrolled at UCF.

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