Liz Nottingham throws a mean gala.
A manager of physician relations at the University of Virginia Medical Center, Nottingham, of Earlysville, has played a leading role in the resurgence of the local gala for the American Cancer Society through the last 15 years.
She has been volunteering with the society for 22 years, and is going into the second year of her two-year term as president of the society's leadership council for Charlottesville-Albemarle.
"The event itself is a remarkable tribute to her leadership and commitment as the community comes together to celebrate others and give their resources to help find a cure," wrote Patricia Cluff Hallmark, who also works at the medical center.
Nottingham said she works for the charity partly because of her father, who died of cancer.
"It struck me that some people who are diagnosed with cancer don't know the services that are available to them," she said.
Nottingham's involvement with the gala began with her attending the event about 15 years ago, she said. Attendance was “sparse" -- about 75 people showed up, she said.
The national organization decided the Charlottesville area couldn't support a black-tie event. Nottingham convinced the group to give the area one more year to pull it together.
"We reinvented the gala," she said.
The reinvigorated event was held at an airport hangar. Organizers found someone to fly in a P-51, supporting the gala's World War II theme.
"We had 335 people and we raised a lot of money," Nottingham said.
After that, the gala had a theme every year. Frequently, the props were borrowed from UVa's drama department.
"People really enjoyed, I think, seeing what we were going to do," she said.
The gala has moved twice since, and is now held at the Darden Graduate School of Business Administration.
The gala is one of the local society's two big fundraisers -- Relay for Life is the other.
Nottingham said the gala has received "tremendous support from the community," including both hospitals in town.
This was Nottingham's last year helping to stage the event. She's in the process of passing the reins to new leadership. The gala was sold out this year, she said.
Nottingham has been honored several times by the cancer society for her work. She received the South Atlantic Division Award for Excellence for Income Development and Volunteer Leadership.
"This special recognition award was created specifically for Liz in light of her achievements with the American Cancer Society," Hallmark wrote.
Nottingham also helps the Hospice of the Piedmont, work that she said also is inspired by her father.
"It's all about services that are available to patients in this area and doing all that we can to bring comfort to them," she said.
Nottingham also has been active in a professional association for physician liaisons and helped chair a fundraising campaign at the UVa Medical Center.
Liz M. Nottingham
Occupation: Manager of physician relations at UVa Medical Center
Personal: Husband, Quinton; two grown sons; two cocker spaniels