She’s the new CEO of The Sharing Center, and she brings an invaluable point of view that unites the rich and the poor
As a high-powered saleswoman in the hotel and convention business, Nina Yon sported couture heels while wining and dining with the corporate elite. As a missionary in rural Guatemala, she wore $12 rubber flip-flops to prevent electric shock in a makeshift outdoor shower. To say Nina’s perspective spans the entire socio-economic spectrum – and the world itself – is an understatement, and she is bringing all of it to the helm of The Sharing Center in Longwood. There she will work with the infinitely generous men, women, faith partners, and businesses of Seminole County to bring aid and comfort to those who are not so fortunate.
As the new CEO of The Sharing Center, Nina will oversee the organization’s vital food pantry, its economic assistance programs and social services, the vibrant boutique and thrift store, and the Oasis drop-in center serving the area’s homeless population with needed services including computer access, phone charging, showers, and laundry.
Nina began her career working in five-star resorts in Hawaii and Asia and securing lucrative convention bookings for the Orange County Convention Center. She then led profitable business-development efforts for Florida Hospital before deciding to change her focus. Nina felt the call to attend a missionary trip to Panajachel, Guatemala, an area rife with poverty and civil unrest. Nina would live among the residents and help them with housing needs and medical assistance. Her parents were aghast.
They couldn’t fathom that she would give up a lavish life and career to live in poverty, but that’s exactly what Nina did.
After almost a year in Guatemala, she returned home a changed woman, and her mother was the first to notice.
“She knows that Guatemala really changed my priorities, my value of money, and my worship of material goods,” Nina recalls. “She told me, ‘Guatemala has been really good for you – you’ve matured, and you’re much more patient. You should go back.’”
With that blessing, Nina returned and spent another year and a half doing missionary work.
While still in Guatemala, Nina began studying remotely for a master’s degree in nonprofit management from UCF. She returned to Central Florida and completed the program in 2016.
A year later, she joined Orlando’s United Against Poverty as its fundraising development director.
“I loved the mission and helping the poor,” Nina says.
But in 2018, three separate people told Nina The Sharing Center was seeking a new CEO, and each encouraged her to apply.
“I felt that God was trying to send me a message, and I would not be a faithful disciple if I didn’t listen,” Nina says.
Within a few weeks, the job was hers, complete with the enthusiastic endorsement of The Sharing Center’s founder, Angie Romagosa.
Referring to the retired CEO and founder of The Sharing Center, Nina says, “Angie has built such a great legacy. She was here for 33 years and built this from scratch with very little resources. I’m only the second-ever CEO of this agency – it’s daunting. But I feel God put everything one step ahead of me and paved the road for me to be here today.”
Nina’s passion for the poor and her experience at the executive level meld perfectly at The Sharing Center.
“I thank God for my experiences in both the for-profit world, as well as my missionary experience,” Nina says. “Combined, they provide a unique perspective in leading a nonprofit agency. Now I have to look at the big picture. How do we take something that Angie built that is already great and make it even better?”
Nina plans to not only continue The Sharing Center’s many compassionate services, but to expand their capacity and scope wherever she can.
“Expanding services at very little cost to us can be accomplished through collaboration with other nonprofit partner agencies and community support,” says Nina.
She hopes to increase the operating hours of the Oasis, and Nina is collaborating with the Florida Counseling Foundation and the students at the Reformed Theological Seminary to form a partnership that would offer mental health counseling to clients. Her long-term goal is for The Sharing Center to be the one-stop shop for human services in Seminole County, a place where a family suffering with poverty can come and access a plethora of resources.
“This is not just a job for me,” says Nina. “This is my daily ministry, and it’s a blessing for me to be in this important role.”
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