After a long corporate career, including 12 years as a vice president at Ashburn-based cyber security company Telos Co., Lisa Kimball realized that she felt unfulfilled at the end of the work day. She wanted to do something where she was able to give back to the community and serve people.
A friend recommended that she consider a position at the Arc of Loudoun and four years ago, she became the nonprofit’s CEO.
“I brought skills I had learned throughout my career and jumped right in,” Kimball said.
“My feeling is it doesn’t matter if you are making widgets or offering healthcare services, it is still all about good solid management, hiring the best and the brightest and you are doing right by your employees all the time, which is your greatest asset,” she said. “If you take care of your employees, your employees take care of your clients and that is so true.”
The Arc of Loudoun – founded in 1967 — is an organization that is dedicated to serving people with disabilities and their families, which can range from intellectual and developmental disabilities encompassing all ages and all spectrums from autism, ASD, Down syndrome, Fragile X syndrome and mental health care, Kimball said.
It was started by a group of parents who had children with intellectual and developmental disabilities and they wanted to figure out how to give their children the best possible life during and after school, she said.
There are six programs on the Paxton Campus – located in Leesburg – which includes Ability Fitness Center, Ally Advocacy, Aurora Behavior Clinic, The Aurora School, The ODLC Preschool, and Project Horse Center.
“Our goal is to surround a family with as many services as they need and as much help as possible,” she said. “Where there is help, there is hope.”
Kimball could not be more pleased with her decision to move to the nonprofit sector, and in particular to work at the Arc.
“The staff is second-to-none,” she said. “My job is to understand what the programs need, to get them what they need, remove road blocks in their way and then step back and see the miracles that take place every day. It is remarkable what this staff does every day and the difference they make in people’s lives.”
During the pandemic, the Arc pivoted quickly and continued its programs with both virtual and in-person learning, she said.
“It was truly remarkable,” Kimball said. “If you had told us a few years ago our students and clients would be able to learn and work out virtually, we would have said you don’t know what you are talking about.”
Kimball said the fitness center specialist put her equipment in her car and went from house to house to try to maintain workouts for people even if they could not come to the gym.
One of the challenges today is the organization has run out of space on its campus, she said. But the organization is launching a search for a home for the Arc.
“We know we need more space than we have. A lot of that success is because of how well we were able to transition to virtual and then back to in-person when everyone was ready to do that. We have been a steady presence in everyone’s lives,” she said.
Currently, there is a staff of 110 people, with 50 students at the Aurora School, 25 in the preschool, 20 in the behavior clinic and 20 at the fitness center.
The Arc is a regional organization and serves people from as far as Jefferson County, W.V., Washington, D.C., and Shenandoah County.
“We truly are the best in the business,” she said.
In addition to her work at the Arc, Kimball has received multiple honors and awards for her community service. Some of the organizations she works with include: serving on the board of the Northern Virginia Science Center; past board chair of the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce; and advisory board of the Loudoun County Medical Reserve Corps. She also is a member of the Loudoun Human Services Network and iHeartMedia's Leadership Advisory Board.
20 years from now, Kimball would like to see the Arc in a place where there is ample room to grow its programs and serve more people every day.
She says the Arc wants to be the center of excellence in multiple areas in terms of serving people with disabilities.
“Early intervention is key,” she said. “We are focusing on early intervention – which is defined as birth to eight years. The more you bombard a child with services as early as possible, the better the outcome for the child.”
Another issue for the Arc is that it’s main fundraising event held annually in October – known as Shocktober – will not be held this year because they have lost their lease for Paxton Manor, she said. They are anticipating a $500K budget shortfall; however, there are plans to “get creative” with other types of fundraising this year, she said.
As someone who has a had a lifelong passion of serving the community where she lives, Kimball sees many positive outcomes since she began working at the Arc of Loudoun.
“We have seen a dramatic reduction in employee turnover,” she said. “The emphasis is on rewarding employees to the greatest extent possible and making sure we are keeping things as fun as possible and to offer growth opportunities for staff.”
“We have been able to grow financially and stay in a good financial position – this is a good start to our future to come,” she added.