Our Team


The team at Nonprofit Beginnings have all been fortunate enough to work with local, state, and national nonprofits from all backgrounds and causes along our unique JOURNEYS. Our passion is to help others find their niche in creating their dream career, and not just a job. We hope you will let our team be the Obi-Wan Kenobi’s in your nonprofit journey!

Nick dicolandrea

chief passion officer / FounderOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This site started as a place to pine over my  personal experiences that I have had while searching for that great hot dog, taking time to walk in the woods, working in the nonprofit world, volunteering, enjoying company with old and new friends in the South.

Now what took me a while to learn is that you can make a career of bettering your community. After attending NC State University and dabbling in other ventures, I decided to travel further south with my family and earn a Masters in Public Administration from Mississippi State University. And what I have found is that there is a whole world of nonprofit management, education, and training of which to learn and give.

Since then I have held many titles in my years of public service, both as a paid staff member and as a volunteer in the Raleigh Durham and Chapel Hill community. My experience in management, volunteers, social media, communication, strategic plans, community engagement, development, partnership development, and networking has led me to this place where I want to give help to those who are just starting on their nonprofit journey. Here are some examples of my experience: Managed million dollar federal grants from DOJ and DOE; oversaw state AmeriCorps program with 9 full-time members; serve on multiple nonprofit boards; for more details check out my LinkedIn profile or follow @nickdico!

Valerie Arendt

Master Nonprofit Thread Weaver

Before moving to North Carolina from Minneapolis, Valerie obtained her Masters of Social Work and Public Policy degrees from the University of Minnesota. Valerie’s social work experience includes a focus on refugee and immigrant families, early childhood education, women and youth education, affordable housing, and nonprofit management.  Valerie spent one of her graduate school internships designing program evaluation tools for a micro-finance nongovernmental organization that supported female empowerment in rural India. Valerie was a Program Manager for the Advantage Centers of Minnesota’s largest provider of affordable housing and services.  She managed an array of resident services designed to be culturally appropriate to promote and support success for refugee and immigrant residents, with programs including: youth and teen programs that emphasize academic progress, early childhood and parent education, adult English language learning classes, individual counseling and referrals, and career development services. Follow her on Twitter @vlarendt

Brent Laurenz

Director of Policy & Speaking Awesomeness 

Brent received his undergraduate degree from Virginia Tech (“Go Hokies!”) and a Masters degree from George Washington University. He has been, as he calls it, “nonprofiting” since 2005. In that time, Brent has helped protect animals, promote a better future for children, and preserve Civil War battlefield land. Currently, in his position with the North Carolina Center for Voter Education, Brent makes democracy work for all citizens. In his free time, he can be found roaming around the Triangle and exploring North Carolina with his wife and floppy-eared mutt, taking photos, hiking in the woods, paddling in his kayak, and drinking local beer.

James Amato

Chief Character Architect

James PicJames Amato is the Director of Major Gifts at United Way of the Greater Triangle (UWGT) wherehe works with nearly 80 civic and business leaders and philanthropists to end childhood hunger, create pathways to progress for families with children, and provide basic needs to the Triangle’s most vulnerable populations. Prior to landing at United Way James was a leader in higher education fulfilling leadership roles in a host of areas including advancement and fundraising, student leadership, career development, judicial affairs, Greek life, and campus ministry. James is a graduate of West Liberty State University (WV), with a BA in Elementary Education and Indiana University (PA) with an MA in Student Affairs & Higher Education. A devout Christian, James serves on the board of Thomas International Center whose mission is to achieve cultural renewal in light of the Western and Christian intellectual traditions. He is a United Way leadership donor and a member of UWGT’s Young Leader Society. James and his wife Jessica are both former college athletes and love to run, workout, cook, travel, and chase after their two dogs. Later in 2015 they will be featured on an episode of their favorite television show House Hunters!

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