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Toni K Rivera

Executive Director

Families and Schools Together

Location: Dane County, WI

Founded: 1999

Industry: Education/Nonprofit

Toni K. Rivera arrived at Families & Schools Together (FAST) in 2019 on the heels of several years of large deficits at the nonprofit. The organization’s staff had dwindled, and it was facing its largest annual deficit of $380,000. The nonprofit was in need of change and guidance from a new leader.

Rivera was that leader.

In three years as executive director, Rivera has revitalized FAST, adding staff, diversifying the board and raising nearly $300,000 in new funding and grants in 2021 with more projected in 2022.

FAST’s mission is to nurture the potential of every child by uniting families, schools and communities. The organization partners with schools and community organizations in Wisconsin, across the U.S. and internationally to implement family strengthening programs to increase family-school connectedness and support children to succeed in school and beyond.

“I have dedicated my career to fostering sustainable relationships that have long-standing, positive community impact,” Rivera said. “I will continue to develop, implement and advocate for programs serving children and families that help them reach their greatest potential and strengthen the community.”

In 2020, with the onset of COVID-19, the plans for the organization were halted and the organization’s survival took precedence. Rivera led the FAST staff to develop new virtual programming, and she procured crucial grant funds and donations to help weather 2020 and 2021. In collaboration with local fundraising and strategic partnership consultants, FAST raised revenue to help support operations through 2024.

Rivera has been working in the nonprofit world in service of children and families for decades. “Ms. Rivera has a way of connecting with people on their level, determining what their needs are, and then finding a way to satisfy that need, a unique skill that is truly genuine,” her team said. “That sense of genuineness shines through so strongly that if Ms. Rivera believes in something, whether it is a person or a cause, then others will believe in it, too.”

Rivera originally trained as a middle school teacher and has worked with numerous nonprofit organizations such as La Causa, Girl Scouts of Milwaukee and Centro Hispano, and she has been involved with Project Ujima at Children’s Hospital, a nationally recognized program that provides comprehensive support to youth and adult victims of crime and interpersonal violence.

“Ms. Rivera has a special skill set for turning around troubled organizations; she doesn’t run from challenges and is an incredibly authentic, committed, gracious and serving leader in the community,” Rivera’s team said. “Any organization for which she works is incredibly lucky to have her, and the organizations and teams that she has worked with in the past have nothing but glowing things to say about her.”

Presented by:

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Did you know?

Ms. Rivera was the first in her family to graduate from college and the only member of her entire family that has earned a Master’s degree

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