Debra Montanino

“Debra possesses a rare combination of gifts: highly developed emotional intelligence; brutally strategic in her analysis; deeply loving in her execution; and a wicked sense of humor. Unleashing other people’s abilities is what I’ve seen her do routinely in the twelve years that we’ve worked together. I’m a much better leader and person because of her.”

Dan Cardinali

President and CEO

Independent Sector


Debra has spent her entire career working in the nonprofit sector helping people and organizations reach their full potential.

Little-Known Facts

  • Loves to cook and has always been a “foodie”
  • Dream job is to be a backup singer
  • Has been singing in an a cappella choir for the past twenty years
  • Completed a one day, 100-mile bike ride to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society


  • Resource Development: track record of raising millions of dollars to advance the missions of several national nonprofit organizations. Successfully led Communities In Schools’ first growth capital campaign that raised $85 million in three years to help take the CIS model of Integrated Student Supports to scale nationally.
  • Strategy: helps organizations integrate communications, legislative relations, and resource development functions to more efficiently and effectively engage constituents to support and serve their mission. Adept at building a philanthropic culture within organizations.
  • Governance: expertise in mobilizing volunteer leaders to focus their talents, skills, resources, and relationships in service of mission. Helped create a public/private governance structure for the Duke Ellington School of the Arts with the George Washington University, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and the DC Public School System to bring additional resources to talented DC public school students.
  • Leadership Development: keen ability to identify, recruit, and nurture talent and build strong, effective, and cohesive teams.

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