Our Executive Director, Kavya Velagapudi, has been working with LACNETS since 2015. Following the passing of LACNETS’ late founder and executive director, Giovanna Joyce Imbesi, Kavya stepped into the executive director role to help continue the LACNETS vision of supporting NET patients and their loved ones. Though Kavya isn't in the spotlight (i.e. visible in webinars and weekly support groups), she is our fearless leader.
We asked Kavya a few questions to help our community get to know her, as well as her vision for LACNETS. Read the full interview below.
HOW AND WHEN DID YOU FIRST BECOME INVOLVED WITH LACNETS?
In 2015, Giovanna Joyce Imbesi, the late LACNETS founder, contacted me requesting support in writing a grant proposal. Anyone who met Giovanna knows it’s impossible not to admire and love her. Within a few months, we secured LACNETS’ first grant award.
HOW HAS YOUR ROLE WITH LACNETS EVOLVED OVER THE YEARS?
Giovanna and I continued to work over the years securing grants and donations to support the growing LACNETS programs. In 2017, Giovanna invited me to join the LACNETS Board. Between 2017 and 2019, I served as the Interim Executive Director while Giovanna focused on her health.
When Giovanna succumbed to her disease in November 2019, I reluctantly took over as Interim Administrator since I was most familiar with the day-to-day operations and fundraising of LACNETS. What began as an interim role became permanent in 2021 when the Board and staff of LACNETS appointed me as the Executive Director of LACNETS.
My work continues to bring me closer to incredible people like Giovanna whose vision is to change the world.
WHAT EXPERIENCE DO YOU BRING TO LACNETS AND THE NET COMMUNITY?
I’m an independent fundraising consultant and a grant writer with fifteen years of diverse experience generating revenue and resources for nonprofit organizations. I have a Bachelor’s in Psychology and a Masters in Social Welfare with a concentration in Non-Profit Administration & Policy Advocacy. Prior to focusing on administration and fundraising roles in nonprofits, I was a counselor at a domestic violence shelter and a homeless shelter. My previous roles include serving as the Western Region Director of Starlight Children’s Foundation in Los Angeles, and as the Development Director of the International Museum of Women, now part of the Global Fund for Women, in San Francisco. This experience helped me gain a unique blend of clinical, fundraising, and management skills. In 2014, I launched Honu Fundraising to work independently as a fundraising consultant, and a grant writer. Launching Honu Fundraising is the best professional decision I’ve made. My work continues to bring me closer to incredible people like Giovanna whose vision is to change the world.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART ABOUT BEING ON THE LACNETS TEAM?
Our LACNETS team reminds me of Margaret Mead’s quote: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
LACNETS is a small but mighty team. In November 2019, we were overwhelmed by Giovanna’s passing. LACNETS had no succession plan. It was hard to imagine LACNETS without Giovanna. Over the next few months, the current Board and staff came together to continue Giovanna’s work and vision. Nearly three years later, LACNETS is thriving! We reach ten times more patients and caregivers than three years ago. We continue to expand and add new programs to meet unmet needs in the NET community. This success is not possible without the commitment and expertise of people who serve on the GeneratePossibility.org/LACNETS Board and staff.
WHAT IS YOUR VISION FOR LACNETS?
My vision is to grow LACNETS to become a global resource center for NET patients and caregivers. We are well on our way to achieving this vision.