In 2013, Carolyn Champion’s career at Genworth Financial vaulted her onto a much different track, one that enabled her to follow what she considered a more meaningful path.
From a focus on finance, she moved into community relations. “My real passion was giving back to the community,” she says. “I got involved with the volunteer council, and then the volunteer manager position came open.”
Since then, her role has expanded. She took on Genworth Foundation giving in late 2014, and diversity and inclusion strategy in early 2016. She’s responsible for a philanthropic and sponsorship budget of approximately $3 million.
Champion also has improved employee volunteer programs at Genworth. Instead of dictating which nonprofits the company will support, for example, the program empowers employees to decide where to put their volunteer time, allowing them to channel their efforts toward their interests. Employees get 40 hours of work time annually to spend volunteering and $10 for every volunteer hour to give to a nonprofit of their choice.
Just as other Genworth employees have their chosen causes, so does Champion. Her pet projects emphasize affordable housing. She serves on the boards of directors at Homeward, a planning and coordinating organization for homeless services in the Richmond region, and at Project: Homes, which serves low-income people through the construction of high-quality affordable housing and home repair and improvement.
People need a house before they can begin working toward those other goals that build health and success, she says.
In addition, through mentoring weekly at the Peter Paul Development Center, she says, “I get a little more hands-on by volunteering personally. My mentee and I have clicked really well.”
Three distinct groups of people ignite Champion’s passion for her job — those helped, those helping and her family. She values Genworth employees’ excitement “when it really clicks that they’re giving back in a meaningful way.” And she says she’s grateful she can model community service for her 4-year-old — and one on the way.
“Carolyn has positioned the better part of her life around making the Richmond community stronger,” says Mary Beth Murphy, communications and community relations leader at Genworth, “taking an unfamiliar career path just to make more of an impact on her community.”