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Celebrating Seven Years of Connecting Leaders to Leadership Development through LeaderBridge

In 2015, Danielle M. Reyes entered a small conference room to catch up with two executive directors she’d known for a decade. Both were contemplating career moves. “What more can philanthropy do to support your leadership?” she asked. One wanted more support to develop her leadership skills, citing work demands, limited resources, and lack of familiarity with programs as barriers. The other noted isolation and a desire to learn alongside peers. Both wanted to build connections and raise the visibility of their leadership to support the work of their organizations. This feedback, echoed by many other nonprofit leaders, inspired the Crimsonbridge Foundation to create the Crimsonbridge Leadership Fund, known today as the equity-driven leadership development initiative: LeaderBridge.

Over the past seven years, LeaderBridge has worked with more than a dozen leadership development program providers to establish new cohorts, create welcoming and inclusive programming, and support intentional outreach that has engaged 155 nonprofit leaders who identify as Asian, Black, Hispanic, leaders of color, and other underrepresented identities in Greater Washington’s leadership landscape.

“LeaderBridge is a response and an initiative, informed directly by our region’s leaders and their professional development interests,” shares Reyes, Crimsonbridge’s President & CEO. “Working together with program providers and leaders we’re increasing participation in leadership development and creating a connected network in the process.”

And feedback from leaders has been overwhelmingly positive. Maria Fernanda Borja, President & CEO of the Latino Student Fund, received her Nonprofit Management Executive Certificate from Georgetown’s Center for Public & Nonprofit Leadership in 2017. Borja shared, “Being a part of the program was an incredible experience. Not only was it greatly beneficial to me but the relationships I formed has been a gift that keeps on giving.” Borja also participated in the Spur Local Executive Director Cohort, which gave her the confidence to network more and to run her organization more efficiently.

In the first half of 2023 alone, 69 leaders have completed LeaderBridge supported programs including: Georgetown Nonprofit Management Executive Certificate (spring and summer 2023 cohorts), Positive Intelligence, and Leadership Montgomery Emerging Leaders. Leaders in the programs at the Center for Nonprofit Advancement Executive Preparation Institute and Leadership Greater Washington Rising Leaders joined the Network in July.

“Supporting leadership development is a very direct, tangible, and responsive way to support leaders of color,” says Reyes. “We hope more philanthropic partners will join us in this work to meet the demand for these programs and serve a growing number of leaders in the future.”

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