New Fund Supports Nonprofit Community Leaders

Patricia Funegra in Class

Posted in News Story

JULY 12, 2016 — Patricia Funegra, Founder and CEO of La Cocina VA, a job training and food assistance program, received one of the first Crimsonbridge Leadership Fund scholarships to the Nonprofit Management Executive Certificate Program offered by Georgetown’s Center for Public and Nonprofit Leadership at the McCourt School of Public Policy.

A total of eight nonprofit leaders from the Greater Washington Region received scholarships to the Summer 2016 Certificate Program, made possible by a $30,000 grant from the Crimsonbridge Foundation. The Crimsonbridge Foundation views the scholarships as an investment in strengthening current nonprofit organizations as much as in supporting nonprofit leaders. According to Founder and President Gabriela Smith, “as we seek to build social sector capacity, we believe it is important to increase access to top professional development opportunities and cultivate the talented and dedicated leadership at the heart of this work.”

There was incredibly high demand for the scholarships, with 20 applications for the Summer 2016 Program alone. Center for Public and Nonprofit Leadership Assistant Director, Dr. Luisa Boyarski, notes “It is clear that nonprofit CEOs and senior staff desire greater opportunities for professional development, however, smaller community-based nonprofits often do not have flexibility in their budgets to fund their participation.”

Kenneth Parker applied for a scholarship to the Nonprofit Management Executive Certificate Program because he accepted a position to serve as the next Executive Director of Literacy Volunteers and Advocates, which helps thousands of adult in DC area who are coping with illiteracy. With the skills and knowledge obtained through his participation in the program, Kenneth hopes to “build a strong working relationship with our board of directors, better market and build our programs, and better understand how fundraising works in an effort to sustain our work.”


With a background in poverty alleviation in Latin America and the Caribbean, Patricia Funegra understands what inequality looks like and she sees it in her own backyard of Northern Virginia.  Patricia highlights the alarming statistics: one in six Americans rely on food aid from the government and the United States has the lowest rate of upward mobility of all other industrialized nations.  “All this should offend any sense of plain justice,” she says.

Three years ago, Patricia started La Cocina to generate workforce and small business development in the Hispanic community. Specifically, the organization provides training in the hospitality and food service industries and uses the food prepared to fight obesity by offering healthy meals to low-income families.

One of the first participants, Gloria, a 45 year old American resident from Peru who survived domestic abuse and was unemployed, now has a brand new job as a full time cook at a high-end hotel.  When asked, “Is America still the land of opportunity?,” Patricia answers “Absolutely!  I am certain that we can scale stories of success like Gloria’s to the rest of the region.”


Dr. Kathy Kretman, Director of the Center for Public and Nonprofit Leadership, says “I am inspired and humbled by our first cohort of Crimsonbridge Scholars. They are working in some of the most underserved communities in the DC area to provide adult literacy training, workforce training, wrap-around social service delivery to refugees, and urban gardens. They came to the Certificate program to gain new leadership skills and management tools to take back to their organizations. What they gave the other program participants, in return, was a much greater appreciation of the obstacles that their clients face in accessing social services essential to their health and well-being.

I applaud the Crimsonbridge Foundation for providing this rare opportunity for local nonprofit leaders of all backgrounds to step away from their organizations, to focus on both their individual growth and their organization’s development. I am honored that Crimsonbridge chose us as their partner.”