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Leadership Profile: Michelle Edwards

June 2019

Can someone with nearly 25 years of experience in education, a doctorate and three years of experience as a nonprofit executive director find something to learn in the Nonprofit Management Executive Certificate Program at Georgetown University’s Center for Public and Nonprofit Leadership? The answer was a resounding, “Yes,” for Michelle Edwards of Live It Learn It.

“Learning every aspect of nonprofit management was amazing,” said Michelle, a certificate program graduate and executive director of Live It Learn It, a rigorous experiential learning program that turns the region’s parks, museums, and monuments into rich learning experiences and helps local children of color feel like they belong in these spaces.

Michelle became Live It Learn It’s executive director in 2016, taking over from Founder Matthew Wheelock. Enrolling in the certificate program in the summer of 2018, with support from the Crimsonbridge Leadership Fund, gave her a window into the theory behind the hands-on practice she was already getting in nonprofit management. It also gave her more confidence as she translated her leadership skills from nearly 25 years in education, including 10 as a school principal, to the nonprofit realm.

While Michelle was interested in every part of the certificate program’s curriculum, learnings around board development and engagement, and fundraising have been immediately applicable over the past year.

“I really truly understand our roles now and how the board and executive director are the twin engines in this jet,” said Michelle.

Since completing the program, Michelle has guided Live It Learn It to update its board roles and responsibilities and organizational by-laws, and the organization is now ready to bring on new board members. With new clarity around fundraising, Michelle has also built a development team and felt better able to articulate what was expected of them.

The week-long, immersive program also allowed for deep conversations with a diverse mix of leaders working in various kinds of nonprofits. These leaders are now part of a network that Michelle feels proud to contribute to, as well as one she is comfortable reaching out to for support.

In addition to time with her classmates, Michelle appreciated meeting with Crimsonbridge staff during the program and encourages more funders to get to know participants and to support participation by diverse leaders.

“Hear what people are learning. Have lunch with attendees. Continue to build relationships and be sure that diverse voices are in the room. Those we serve need to see us in these leadership roles,” said Michelle.

Learn more about Live It Learn It, Georgetown’s Nonprofit Management Executive Certificate Program or the Crimsonbridge Leadership Fund.

Connect with Michelle on Twitter.

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