SIERRA VISTA—Communities in rural Arizona are about to be taken by storm with a leader who has a vision for helping organizations thrive.
Angelica Hernandez-Williams works for the Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits, a network around the state that provides assistance and allows nonprofits to flourish through advocacy, education and training programs. She has been credited for beginning the rural division for the alliance when she was hired in August.
Hernandez-Williams said her role as rural development manager is focused on helping the rural market that has not been receiving enough attention. She provides support with advocacy and training for the growing number of nonprofits in rural areas so they can reap the benefits as nonprofits do in urban areas.
She enjoys the friendly staff she works with and the knowledge they bring to the table.
“What I’m doing is new for the alliance, and everyone is aware of that,” she said. “Everyone’s really helpful.”
Having grown up in and currently living in a rural area, Hernandez said she wants to see communities thrive from nonprofit work just as rural other markets would. She graduated from Buena High School and attended Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. She moved back to Sierra Vista in 2012.
Some of the programs that Hernandez-Williams works with involve helping board members of nonprofits receive training that they need and nonprofit life cycles to help nonprofits that are starting or reviewing their organizational structure to allow for growth.
“We’re looking at trying to take these trainings that are consistently done and see if maybe they need to be done specifically in a rural area, either in person or done in a hybrid way, so that way the nonprofit continues to thrive in these rural markets,” Hernandez-Williams said.
Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits SVP and Director of Development Jennifer Purcell recently nominated Hernandez-Williams for the Coors Light Líderes Program Leader of the Year. The program gives recognition to top Latino leaders and awards their nonprofits.
“Now with the alliance, she has the opportunity for her to impact much of rural Arizona through the work that she’s going to be doing in her rural development manager role,” Purcell said.
Purcell has been working directly with Hernandez-Williams for the last three months and said they’re working on a transition process for the AmeriCorps VISTA program, which will solely focus on rural Arizona.
“She provides the personality, as well as the intelligence and knowledge to be able help someone find those resources that they need to make their nonprofit stronger and therefore their community a better place,” she said.
Purcell said nonprofits in smaller communities play significant role in bringing service to locations where there’s not a lot of opportunity.
“I think most people don’t realize how much the nonprofits in their communities do to assist in making them a better place to live,” Purcell said.
As a recipient for the Coors Light Líderes Program, $10,000 was awarded to Hernandez-Williams. She is brainstorming ideas to utilize the money for the organization.
“I think it’s also wonderful that Coors Light is providing this opportunity for Hispanics and Latino leaders across the nation to be recognized for their work,” she said.
Hernandez-Williams said the Coors Light Líderes Program is creating an alumni network, and there’s an opportunity to meet former winners and leaders. Being a part of the leadership network will allow more insight based on how former winners helped their organization and advanced in their careers, she said.
She said that meeting other people across the state or nationwide that can potentially help advance a particular mission is going to be huge.
“They’re actually giving you that leadership network to help in your career,” she said.
Hernandez-Williams said that rural nonprofits will often overextend themselves due to less staff and volunteers and that they will also consistently adjust their mission to accommodate the population in need.
“They’re doing a huge impact for the community that they’re in,” she said. “So they’re still serving the same amount of people, if not greater, because they’re only one organization versus three that be may be doing that in a bigger area.”
She added that the best quality of rural nonprofit markets is that they’re more connected to their communities.
“These people truly want to make a difference and you see that,” she said. “They definitely need to have their voices heard and stop having it overlooked just because they’re not the same big size as those big city nonprofits.”