News and analysis
March 05, 2015

Gloria Johnson-Cusack Takes Helm of Health and Social-Services Coalition

New job: On April 6, Gloria Johnson-Cusack becomes president and chief executive of the National Human Services Assembly, a D.C.-based organization that advocates for the nation’s leading health and human-service organizations. She replaces Irv Katz, who is retiring after leading the group since 2001.

Nonprofit background: Ms. Johnson-Cusack was previously executive director of Leadership 18, a group of chief executives at big social-service, health, and religious groups. She served as senior vice president at GMMB, a D.C.-based communications and advertising firm, where she focused on social and health causes on behalf of nonprofits, foundations, and national associations. Ms. Johnson-Cusack also serves as national chair of the board of trustees for United Cerebral Palsy.

Political background: She directed Congressional relations at the Peace Corps, promoted national service as an aide to President Clinton, directed constituent relations at the Corporation for National Service, and worked for Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, Democrat of the District of Columbia, and Sen. Al Gore, Democrat of Tennessee.

Education: Ms. Johnson-Cusack holds a bachelor’s degree from Columbia University and a master’s degree in public administration from American University. She is a founder of the Eli J. Segal Citizen Leadership program at Brandeis University.

Her agenda: Sharing the impact of top-performing nonprofits, strengthening business performance, and creating more smart collaborations. "The nonprofits that invite the most meaningful investment are the ones who have a clear vision about how to collaborate, with a very specific outcome of strengthening our country’s economic health and our country’s economic stability," she says. "The charitable sector has to do a much better job explaining why our work is so relevant."

How her personal life informs her perspective: Ms. Johnson-Cusack grew up in "de facto segregated" Washington, D.C., attending tough public schools before attending Sidwell Friends School and Columbia University, both on full scholarship. "They were almost like being in different worlds," she says. "Every person and every community that we’re serving has assets to be built upon, and I think that’s an assumption that is not always recognized as much as it should be in the philanthropic sector ... This is one place where we can invite all of those diverse leaders of good intent to the table and find new ways of doing things. "

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