Seattle Foundation Welcomes Alesha Washington as New President and CEO
Washington's expertise and commitment will advance Seattle Foundation’s mission—unleashing our collective potential to create stronger, more vibrant community for all.
March 30, 2022
By Dr. Ed Taylor (Chair) and Ed Thomas (Search Committee Chair)
After an extensive, nationwide search for our next President and CEO, we’re thrilled to welcome Alesha Washington to Seattle Foundation. Alesha brings a deep respect and understanding of our past, a devotion to the urgency of where we are now, and a clear and hopeful vision for the future. She represents what we see as the next generation of philanthropy with Seattle Foundation.
Alesha is a leader with high hopes for what we can achieve and will help Seattle Foundation fulfill the blueprint we have laid out. She comes to the Foundation with significant leadership experience in diverse sectors including her most recent position as Program Director for Vibrant Neighborhoods and Inclusive Economy at the George Gund Foundation in Cleveland, Ohio and was previously the Vice President of Government Advocacy at the Greater Cleveland Partnership, one of the largest chambers of commerce in the country. At Greater Cleveland, Alesha gained a keen understanding of how business and the public sector can work together to achieve common goals.
At the Gund Foundation, Alesha led the team in efforts to reimagine the foundation’s grantmaking in democracy building, civic engagement, and neighborhood resident leadership. She also played a lead role in community work with other Cleveland-area foundations to advance racial equity and justice. During her tenure, she pushed for increased investments to Black and Latinx-led organizations, granting to $6 million in 2020 alone for capacity building and operating support.
In her work with Greater Cleveland Partnership, Alesha gained a keen understanding of how the business, civic, and public sectors can work together to achieve common goals. She led efforts to secure more than $30 million from the State of Ohio for capital projects in Greater Cleveland and directed advocacy and political strategies to increase support for businesses owned by people of color. She also served as the director of the Great Lakes Metro Chambers Coalition, leading chambers of commerce in advancing federal policy priorities for the benefit of the Great Lakes region. She has helped lead prominent national initiatives to strengthen civic participation and economic mobility. This includes serving on the Brookings Metropolitan Leadership Council and W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research’s Policy Advisory Committee.
Going into the search process for the next President and CEO, we knew that the Foundation needed a truly exceptional leader—someone committed to reimagining philanthropy to advance racial equity with an authentic voice who can communicate effectively with all of our community members, including young philanthropists, more experienced ones, our community partners, and public and private sector leaders. We needed a changemaker who could build and activate alliances with business, government, and nonprofits. Our Search Committee—consisting of members of the Board of Trustees—undertook an intensive, nationwide search process, which resulted in a pool of dozens of diverse, outstanding candidates. The search process included proactive engagement with fundholders and a wide range of community leaders.
Alesha stood out because of her proven and persuasive ability to bring stakeholders along with her. She is a great listener and can connect the goals of Seattle Foundation with the goals of her audiences. She has spent her career building bridges across sectors, and this will serve her well in advancing the Foundation’s critical work. In addition, she brings a fresh perspective to the opportunities and challenges of the Greater Seattle region. Alesha’s outstanding expertise and commitment will advance Seattle Foundation’s mission—unleashing our collective potential to create a stronger, more vibrant community for all.
Alesha inherits the Foundation’s 75-year history of prudent stewardship of the region’s generosity and uniting people from the many diverse corners of our community. She brings new expertise on how to catalyze lasting change in ways that leverage the best of fundholders, Foundation staff, trustees, community leaders, public sector leaders and the private sector. Washington’s starting point is the Foundation’s Blueprint for Impact—our North Star to advance racial and economic equity in the Greater Seattle region.
Furthermore, she will lead our team in building strong philanthropic relationships that are grounded in anti-racism, bridge building, economic equity, and social justice, which will hopefully serve as a national model for how community philanthropy can fully embrace racial equity and make it the center of our sector’s work.
Alesha is excited to move to Seattle and begin her new role with the Foundation. She recently shared, “Advancing racial equity and strengthening community have been at the core of everything I’ve done in my career because it’s personal for me. I am honored to be joining Seattle Foundation’s team and community because of the incredible energy I feel there and the opportunity to be a part of it. I look forward to learning from and collaborating with partners across the Puget Sound and deepening Seattle Foundation’s efforts to create a more equitable region and joyful future fueled by cross-sector collaboration.”
Alesha will assume her new role as President and CEO on May 11. We are planning several opportunities for our community to meet her and look forward to sharing more information about those soon. We welcome Alesha to Seattle Foundation, where her leadership will allow us to make a powerful, more sustained impact for everyone in our region.
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