On a mission
Roanoke-area nonprofit’s CFO takes hands-on approach
Virginia Business’ 2022 Virginia CFO of the Year award winners represent large and small businesses and large and small nonprofits.
Small nonprofit | David Argabright, CFO
Feeding Southwest Virginia, Salem
David Argabright’s background in construction came in handy when Feeding Southwest Virginia opened its Community Solutions Center in a high-crime, poverty-stricken area of Roanoke.
“I actually was over there for six months in a hard hat overseeing the building of that,” says Argabright, chief financial officer of Feeding Southwest Virginia. Before joining the Salem-based regional food bank, Argabright oversaw development projects for family business Argabright Contractors Inc. for 35 years. For him, the hard hat was nothing new.
For Feeding Southwest Virginia, however, his presence on the job site meant the nonprofit could save some money and ensure compliance with funding requirements of municipal partners on the project. The center opened in May 2018 as a community gathering space and a culinary training center that helps feed at-risk children in Roanoke. Partners in the project included the Northwest Roanoke community, the city of Roanoke, Food Lion and the Roanoke Police Department.
It’s not surprising that Argabright jumped in to oversee construction, as he’s known for “doing whatever it takes,” says Pamela Irvine, president and CEO of Feeding Southwest Virginia.
“His passion for the work that we do … drives him to go beyond the call of duty and expectations in his role as a CFO,” Irvine says. The food bank serves 26 counties and nine cities.
Argabright’s dedication became even more critical during the pandemic, she says.
“He stepped out of his role as a CFO to work with the [chief operating officer] to secure every type of government funding we could apply for,” Irvine says. “He tried continually to get access to resources we wouldn’t get otherwise.”
During that time, Argabright became a bit of an expert on federal Paycheck Protection Program loans and “also shared that knowledge with other organizations around the state,” Irvine says. Instead of outsourcing the PPP application work, which would have cost significantly more, Argabright spent countless hours preparing it himself. Feeding Southwest Virginia ended up securing a PPP loan and forgiveness grant totaling $498,000.
Sometimes, he even takes on responsibilities that don’t have anything to do with the organization’s financial security. For instance, there was a time when a flood made it nearly impossible to travel in a nearby county. “He actually drove a truck to deliver supplies,” Irvine says.
Argabright’s financial skills have helped the organization gain grants and earn the trust of partners and donors, she says. “We generate revenue from multiple sources.” Revenue has quadrupled over the past two years, in part because of his oversight and the trust people put in him.
“That’s critical for a nonprofit,” Irvine says.
Before joining the food bank, Argabright had been involved in mission work. He coordinated more than 100 mission trips across five continents. He also founded an organization called Compassion 575, which raises funds to aid poor children in South Asia through sponsored bike rides in the United States. He jokes, “I had to switch my mission field from South Asia to Southwest Virginia.”
Particularly in 2020 and 2021, as food needs escalated in Southwest Virginia, “we had to stretch to meet those needs,” Argabright says. “It’s been challenging.’’
Feeding Southwest Virginia runs food distribution centers in Salem and Abingdon and serves as the hub for more than 380 partner feeding programs. An affiliate member of Feeding America, the organization distributes food and grocery items worth about $31 million annually.
“All of our employees have worked so hard, especially in these last three years during the pandemic,” Argabright says. “We’ve moved a lot of food.”
Switching from real estate development in a family business to overseeing the finances of a food bank was a “significant change for me,” says Argabright. He holds a master’s degree in accounting from Liberty University, but it has been decades since he’s worked as a certified public accountant for KPMG. “I’m very thankful to be here. It’s been a great seven years.”
Read about Virginia Business’ 2022 Virginia CFO of the Year award winners: