Winter 2018 – Meet Gina Benefiel, New Executive Director

Tell us about your nonprofit background.
I started in nonprofit development work right out of college at WHRO, first as a volunteer, then in a paid role. Early on, I was in awe of how nonprofits worked from behind-the-scenes, and the satisfaction of the work itself is immense. After gaining experience in public broadcasting in both Virginia and New York, I joined the team at ACCESS College Foundation where I enjoyed 10 years leading the Development department and working to raise money so low-income children could receive a post-secondary education. I hold a certificate in nonprofit management and was honored to be chosen as Executive Director for the Va. Beach Rescue Squad Foundation.

Why are you excited about working with the Volunteer Rescue Squads?
The entire EMS system in Virginia Beach is such a tremendous asset. We are incredibly fortunate to have it, and I see what it means to Hampton Roads. I want the whole community to see it as the asset it is, and to help keep it thriving by donating, advocating for it or volunteering their time.

Describe your ride along experience.
It absolutely changed my life. As an observer, I realized that even with no real medical knowledge, I could still do something to assist people at their most vulnerable moments. I quickly understood that no matter what your particular skillset is, the volunteer-based EMS system provides a chance to bond with your neighbors in a way that is difficult to replicate in any other circumstance.

What did you learn about the dedication of volunteers since you came on last summer?
When you ride in an ambulance for 12 hours, you appreciate how much energy it takes. The level of dedication is incredible. In fact it’s humbling. I learned how much dedication it takes to work four 12-hour shifts a month.

How has the transition gone so far?
So far my experience has been wonderful. My onboarding was extensive, and I thoroughly enjoyed having Kitty Schaum as a mentor. Kitty’s done a tremendous amount for the system and our community. I want to do a great job to make her and all of the volunteers proud.

What’s your favorite thing to do in your free time?
I have an 8-year-old son, Ethan, who never ceases to amaze me. We like to go to museums, talk about history and do science experiments together. He really loves visiting Mommy’s work and wears squad gear any chance he can. He’s hooked, just like me.