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Honoring the latest cohort and the 10-year history of the Developing Leaders Program

The Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington, DC (PPMW) Developing Leaders Program (DLP) connects talented young professionals with the sexual and reproductive health, rights, and justice (SRHRJ) community in our nation’s capital. The group’s 10th cohort, which graduated this month, has raised record funds for abortion access while growing their professional networks and knowledge of SRHRJ. 

The DLP offers participants a nine-month professional development curriculum, including guest talks by speakers in the SRHRJ space, detail on PPMW’s work and goals, and expert training in sexual and reproductive education and advocacy. 

For PPMW Volunteer and Events Manager Gregory Samuel, this varied curriculum is part of what gives DLP graduates an edge, providing “a perspective and information that isn't readily available to everyone.” Samuel, who coordinated the program this year, served as MC for its combined 10th cohort graduation and 10-year anniversary celebration, held in Northeast Washington DC in December.

PPMW President and CEO Dr. Laura Meyers addresses attendees alongside PPMW public affairs team members and DLP core team members

Legacy of leadership

PPMW CEO Dr. Laura Meyers, who founded the program in 2013, welcomed graduates and their guests to the event, speaking with passion about the DLP’s achievements and legacy. 

The program now has over 400 alumni and is distinctive across the nation’s Planned Parenthood affiliates. It is designed to provide a well-rounded professional development experience to emerging leaders who are building careers in Washington DC, but could advance in fields like policy, advocacy, law, education, and medicine anywhere in the country.

Meyers recalled asking, a decade ago, “How do we create this group of people that then go back to Michigan, or Delaware, or Kansas…or stay here in the DMV” and “have reproductive rights, reproductive justice, reproductive health knowledge in their bones?” 

The DLP was the answer to that question. Alumni are now leaders who have used the knowledge and skills they gained in their DLP experiences to grow their careers and have an impact on reproductive health and rights. They include, for example, a state legislator, Congressional staffers, lawyers, and an OBGYN.

Core Team Co-Chair Alesia Robinson addresses the latest cohort of DLP graduates

Alumni in action

Supporting the group each year is a “Core Team”: alumni who have returned to serve as leaders and mentors for a new cohort. The Core Team guides them through designing fundraising efforts, organizes a speaker series for their benefit, and provides them with invaluable professional mentorship. 

Core Team member Samantha Clark explains that leading a DLP cohort “is a really great way to shape the future of your own movement” and “bring the change you want to see in the repro world as well.” Her fellow returning leaders share this sense of responsibility for the future.

Core Team Co-Chair Alesia Robinson says that her role felt like a natural progression after graduating from the DLP in 2021. “For me, the next step was really leadership in this program, to make changes that I thought would be beneficial,” she notes. “I also wanted to be someone that others could come to and feel heard and valued.” 

Education Chair Jackie Wren graduated from the program just last year. She is a sex educator and coach, and saw serving on the Core Team as a chance to help others become familiar with the nuances of Washington DC’s SRHRJ climate. Wren also wanted to help participants build lasting personal and professional relationships. She explains, “They make what I hope are lifelong friendships in people who they feel comfortable doing this work with.” 

Those friendships were clear in the mood of the evening, as DLP members hugged one another and posed for photos after receiving their DLP graduation certificates. 

PPMW's Volunteer and Events Manager Gregory Samuel (left) and Assistant Vice President of Policy and Advocacy Franki McDaniel (second from right) pose with DLP Core Team leaders (left to right) Kori Williams, Samantha Clark, Alesia Robinson, Annie, and Jackie Wren

Friendship, fundraising, and the future

Getting to know this lively group and approaching learning and advocacy from a “team mindset” has been one of the most fulfilling parts of DLP leadership for Core Team Fundraising Chair Kori Williams. After all, she notes, “The new grads are going to be, hopefully, leading the next cohort” as the cycle of leadership and service continues.

Under Williams’ deft guidance, and that of her fellow Core Team members, the latest DLP grads raised the most funds for PPMW of any cohort in the program’s history. They were able to achieve this thanks to special events and projects that didn’t just bring in financial support, but also boosted engagement from community members and helped grow PPMW’s supporter network. Now, as program alumni, they are poised to expand PPMW’s growth and their own through their professional careers and service focused on sexual and reproductive health and rights.

As Dr. Meyers shared with the group, “This program has, I hope, enriched your lives [and connected you with] wonderful people who are like-minded, who then can take this message of this movement out into the world.” 

Want to apply for the Developing Leaders Program? PPMW will soon start accepting applications for the next cohort. Visit our website to learn more.

Tags: Developing-Leaders-Program, Leadership

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