Published March 5, 2020

CFA Institute is a proud sponsor of the Virginia Festival of the Book for the third year in a row, bringing people together to gain education, discuss important ideas, and raise awareness for the ultimate benefit of society. Giving back to the local community helps CFA Institute live its values of trust, inclusion, curiosity, and service: We are all stronger when we work together.

In addition to sponsoring general programming, CFA Institute is again sponsoring eight specific programs that focus on the interrelated and specific needs of the marginalized in our communities (see list of sponsored programs below). CFA Institute asked volunteers within the organization as well as local leaders to explain how these Festival programs further its mission.

Volunteer leaders from two CFA Institute Business Resource Groups share why it’s important for CFA Institute to sponsor the diversity and inclusion sessions:

Lauren Greenwood, Project Manager at CFA Institute and president of the Women’s Initiative Network (WIN), says: “Sponsoring the Virginia Festival of the Book supports a culture of learning. As advocates of inclusion and diversity, we want to educate people about its importance. Reading is a way to learn that allows you to put yourself in someone’s most personal experiences and thoughts. It allows the reader to feel things outside of herself/himself/themself in a way few other mediums allow…. That’s one way to change minds for the better.”

For, Carla Hallman, Human Resources Coordinator at CFA Institute and president of Institutional Awareness of Minorities (I AM), “it is important for CFA Institute to sponsor Virginia Festival of the Book diversity and inclusion sessions because representation matters. Being able to share these diverse stories and acknowledge their importance to our employees and wider community is essential.”

Leaders of three local nonprofit organizations that directly address issues related to sexual equality, gender, and race share their thoughts on why the Festival is important:

The Charlottesville Pride Community Network is co-sponsoring Exploring LGBTQ Stories and Histories with CFA Institute. Amy-Sarah Marshall, president, says “part of our organization’s mission is to raise awareness about LGBTQ+ issues. Encouraging mainstream [events] like the Festival to include narratives from our community helps us meet that goal… giving us a great opportunity to move a marginalized conversation towards the middle of public discourse.” 

Marshall adds, “I find that many well-intentioned people lack visibility into the experience of someone who doesn’t enjoy the same heterosexual and cisgender privileges. Many legal and cultural structures have become more positive for gay and trans individuals. But we still exist in a deeply heteronormative, biased, and often oppressive society. LGBTQ+ teens specifically continue to face levels of depression, anxiety, assault, discrimination, and harassment at extremely high levels. Hearing a variety of stories helps normalize, humanize, and create empathy in a way that’s creative, enjoyable, engaging.”

Amanda Korman, Communications Manager at The Women’s Initiative (TWI), shares how participation in the Festival helps their goal to provide vital mental health services for all women. TWI will host Celebration of Challenge Into Change, featuring Jaquira Díaz (Díaz is also participating in one of the CFA Institute-sponsored panels, Blurred Lines: Extraordinary Memoirs). Readings will include winners of the TWI “Challenge into Change” essay contest as well as a reading by and discussion with Jaquira Díaz—all to celebrate the power of storytelling as a way towards healing and empowerment.

Korman explains that “telling our stories is such an important part of healing. This event features women who have transformed life challenges into opportunities for healing and growth…. It is an opportunity for our community to bear witness to women’s courage and resilience. Additionally, these stories send the message that no one is alone with their struggles—and that change, growth, and healing are possible even in the most difficult circumstances.” She hopes people will leave this session with “an understanding of the unique challenges women face and a belief in the capacity for healing within all of us.”

Beverly Colwell Adams, Association Dean, Assistant Dean, College of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia, is a member of the Charlottesville Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., a private, not-for-profit organization whose purpose is to provide assistance and support through established programs in local communities throughout the world. The organization is a sisterhood of predominantly Black, college-educated women. Local president Yolanda Speed guides the Charlottesville Alumnae Chapter in the 5-point program that includes educational development, political awareness and involvement, economic development, physical and mental health, and international awareness and involvement.

Vashti Harrison

CFA Institute is sponsoring A Conversation with Vashti Harrison, and Adams explains why Delta Sigma Theta wanted to host it. “We felt strongly that her work(s) will be enjoyed by all ages. Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History is insightful and inspiring. The simplicity of her writing style and her illustrations are exceptionally powerful. The women of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. want to host Vashti’s session because she addresses the power of women and especially the innate power of Black Women on the pages in her books.”

After experiencing the session and/or reading the book, Adams hopes people will learn more about African American contributions to our world—not only the Black women pillars, like Rosa Parks, but also lesser known giants, such as Rebecca Lee Crumpler, who was the first African American female physician in the United States. “Indeed, our humanity is nourished and flourishes when we share Vashti with the greater Charlottesville community,” she says. 

Explore the full list of CFA Institute-sponsored programs and bookmark them all for your Festival schedule:

  • Exploring LGBTQ Stories and Histories, Thursday, March 19, 2:00 PM at Central JMRL Library
  • Blurred Lines: Extraordinary Memoirs, Friday, March 20, 10:00 AM at the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center
  • Worlds Within a Body: A Poetry Reading, Friday, March 20, 4:00 PM at New Dominion Bookshop
  • A Conversation with Vashti Harrison, Friday, March 20, 6:00 PM at the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center
  • Find Yourself: Identity and Mental Health in YA Lit, Saturday, March 21, 10:00 AM at the Village School
  • Storytime Marathon, Saturday, March 21, 2:00 PM at Central JMRL Library (Children’s Room)
  • Graphic Novels for All Ages, Saturday, March 21, 2:00 PM in the V. Earl Dickinson Building at PVCC
  • More Lasting Than Bronze: Word and Art as Grass Roots Monuments, Sunday, March 22, 11:00 AM at the Virginia Center for the Book

About CFA Institute: CFA Institute is the global association of investment professionals that sets the standard for professional excellence and credentials. The organization is a champion of ethical behavior in investment markets and a respected source of knowledge in the global financial community. Our aim is to create an environment where investors’ interests come first, markets function at their best, and economies grow. There are more than 170,000 CFA charterholders worldwide in 162 markets. CFA Institute has nine offices worldwide and there are 158 local member societies. For more information, visit or follow CFA Institute on Twitter at @CFAInstitute and on

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