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How Partnerships in Leadership Development are Shaping the Future of our Region

Co-authored by Danielle M. Reyes, President & CEO of the Crimsonbridge Foundation and Doug Duncan, President & CEO of Leadership Greater Washington

Every year, Leadership Greater Washington (LGW) welcomes a cohort of young professionals as part of the five-month Rising Leaders program, designed to provide skills to succeed in leadership roles. This learning experience drives the program, but it’s much more than that. It’s about connection, collaboration, and uniting people to share knowledge and gain insight. Our region is one of the most diverse in the country, and at LGW, we aim to equip leaders with the skills, knowledge, and connections for inclusive growth and community impact to push our region forward. And LeaderBridge has been a crucial partner in making that happen.

CEO Danielle M. Reyes connecting with 2022-2023 LeaderBridge Rising Leaders participants

A comprehensive leadership initiative of the Crimsonbridge Foundation, LeaderBridge works together with nonprofit leaders and program partners to meet the leadership development interests of leaders of color and of diverse backgrounds to foster a more connected and collaborative network. It is this investment in leadership – in connection and collaboration – that brought us together.

Together over the past six years, we have envisioned a more equitable and connected Rising Leaders cohort, mainly through extensive and intentional outreach to local organizations, and building scholarship support for nonprofit sector leaders, who may otherwise not have access to the same professional development funds that their private sector peers have.

“For multi-jurisdictional and cross-sector collaboration to succeed, we must have a leadership landscape that is inclusive and representative of the diverse community-based leaders from the nonprofit sector,” says Danielle Reyes (‘13), President and CEO of the Crimsonbridge Foundation. “Philanthropy at its best is more than dollars, it is meaningful engagement. Investing in leadership development is an opportunity and an actionable equity strategy for foundations and corporate funders to support leaders and organizations, while building a more representative leadership landscape for our region.”

To date, 35 nonprofit professionals have participated in Rising Leaders through the support of LeaderBridge. And in doing so, each year, cohorts have become more reflective of our region and more inclusive of new voices, new ideas, and new opportunities for connection. Great leadership does not exist in a vacuum, and great leaders are those who are connected to communities beyond their own. Engaging with a wider array of backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives has opened doors to more integral parts of our leadership community, one rooted in grassroots efforts for impact and positive change.

Blanca Agudelo (RL ’19) shared her positive experience in the Rising Leaders program: “I became a more effective manager and competent leader in the nonprofit field.” Blanca is the Program Manager for the Latino Student Fund, a DC-based organization providing out-of-school-time programs to increase levels of educational attainment in Latino communities. Blanca also said that she was able to build strong and lasting connections, demonstrating the goal of the LGW and LeaderBridge partnership. As an added bonus, Blanca is part of the 47% of LeaderBridge-supported Rising Leaders who have seen growth in their career, having been promoted to a new role since completing the program.

“True change, like great leadership, is not a solo endeavor,” says Doug Duncan, President & CEO of LGW. “It requires a collective force of individuals, crossing bridges and boundaries to connect and collaborate. As an organization, we have been fortunate to form partnerships across our region including this one with Crimsonbridge Foundation and the LeaderBridge initiative. Together we are helping shape the future landscape of this region, one extraordinary leader at a time.”


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