Asheville Area Chamber names Givens’ VP as Woman Nonprofit Leader of the Year

The Outstanding Woman in Nonprofit Leadership Award from the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce was given to Teresa Stephens, Vice President of Givens Affordable Communities.

The Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce’s WomanUP initiative, which targets businesswomen who want to form a strong network with the goal of motivating one another to reach their full potential, supporting one another in their endeavors, and leaving a legacy through mentorship, presented the award during their annual event on Thursday, Nov. 3.

“The Outstanding Woman in Nonprofit Leadership Award is one of six prestigious WomanUP awards presented each year at our fall celebration,” said Leeanne Briggs, Vice President of Member Services and Director of WomanUP. “It’s both thrilling and inspiring to hear how the winners rise above challenges, surpass expectations, and shine a light for others who want to make a difference in the lives of others.”

Briggs added that Stephens has impacted many people through her work with Givens Communities, and it’s wonderful that the chamber and community have an opportunity celebrate her and applaud her hard work over the years.

“I am deeply honored to receive this award,” said Stephens. “But I must acknowledge that at Givens we work so collaboratively that any award belongs to the team and not just to one person. Many of them are here to support me today but in all honesty, they are involved in this good work every day.”

Stephens recently participated in a panel discussion on senior housing for middle income seniors at the LeadingAge Annual Conference in Denver, Colorado, which addressed the demands and growth of that population. She emphasized the importance of social engagement by offering areas for gathering and engaging in activities – “We view housing as a platform for creating community and empowering and supporting older adults.”

Stephens began working at Givens Communities in the outreach program LifeMinistries in 2005. After holding several positions within the organization, she was promoted to Vice President of Affordable Communities.

During Stephens’ tenure, she supported the creation of 100 HUD/tax credit rental apartments at Givens Great Laurels in Waynesville, N.C. Stephens then worked tirelessly to get tax credit funding and HUD approval for the development and creation of the innovative Givens Gerber Park in South Asheville, which has 262 apartments. She is currently partnering with the Dogwood Health Trust and other partners to develop more affordable housing for seniors throughout the Western North Carolina region

“Many people do not realize that Givens began with affordable housing and it is a privilege to work for an organization where the board and leadership have never wavered in their commitment to serve seniors of all income levels,” Stephens said. “What a gift to get to live out my passion for serving low- and middle-income seniors and to now be working with the Dogwood Health Trust and other partners to expand these opportunities to more WNC counties. I recently overheard a group of Gerber Park residents talking about the joy they felt the day they got the call that it was their turn to move into that community. Their gratitude moved me to tears as they talked about it being one to the most important days in their lives. And that is why we do what we do – because all older adults deserve a place where they can thrive.”

Givens Communities, a regional leader in senior living communities, partnerships, and services, is extending its continuing care reach in Western North Carolina with the assistance of Stephens, who is providing vital leadership and direction.