Washington School for Girls Welcomes Lina Permut as First-Ever Chief Development Officer
DC’s only All-girls All-Scholarship Independent Catholic School Seeks to Expand Fundraising Efforts to Support Future Growth
[Washington, DC – July 14, 2021] The Washington School for Girls (WSG) has hired Lina Permut to serve as the organization’s first-ever Chief Development Officer. The expansion of the fundraising office comes as the all-scholarship school prepares for future growth and seeks to attract new support for its well-established programming serving Black and Brown girls in the Washington area.
WSG is an all-scholarship independent Catholic school located in Ward 8 that seeks to provide educational equity for Black and Brown girls. The program is almost entirely funded through private philanthropy. Permut’s appointment as the first-ever Chief Development Officer comes at an important juncture in WSG’s history: as the school approaches its 25th anniversary in 2022, school President Dr. Beth Reaves and the Board of Trustees have a big vision for the future of WSG. The recently adopted Strategic Plan includes programmatic expansions and the pursuit of a unified campus building (the school currently operates on two leased campuses). Permut’s fundraising expertise will be a key asset as the school writes its next chapter: she is a seasoned fundraising professional who most recently served as Associate Director of Development for Individual Giving at Bread for the City, with additional professional experiences with Pathways to Housing in DC and Free the Slaves.
Permut’s background drew her to this position: as a Washington, DC native, an alumna of the Academy of the Holy Cross, and a mother of four children, the school’s commitment to pursuing educational equity for young girls in Southeast Washington, DC resonated deeply with her. “WSG’s strong history of success and clear vision for educational equity drew me to the school. As a product of Catholic education and a DC native, I see myself in these girls. I also believe that to educate a girl, is to change the world. I am honored to be part of a vibrant community that cares so deeply about creating access to opportunities for Black and Brown girls to thrive,” says Permut. Black and Brown girls do not often have the opportunity to see themselves in their schools’ top leadership positions. One of Permut’s priorities is to ensure that WSG students feel represented in both school leadership and among the school’s community of funders, and that the school community and donors from all backgrounds can connect in authentic and intentional ways.
While the fundraising profession is dominated by women (more than 70% of fundraisers are women), women of color are underrepresented in the field. By joining the school, Permut takes the helm of a diverse five-person team, a rarity in the fundraising field which typically sees about 83-85% of professionals identify as white. “I love that WSG celebrated the value I would bring as a Black woman leader in this position and that my team’s experiences represent multiple perspectives that reflect the wider-DC community. We are stronger because of our differences and our shared values. It reminds the community that it will take all of us to bring a vision forward. We aren’t looking for just one type of philanthropist to be part of our mission.” With over 15 years of international and local nonprofit leadership experience, Permut will play a key role in helping the school work towards long-term financial sustainability.
Permut will work in close collaboration with Dr. Beth Reaves,Washington School for Girls President, and WSG’s Board of Trustees, who bring a wide variety of backgrounds, perspectives, and expertise to the school. Leading fundraising efforts for the school, Reaves and Permut have an audacious goal. In a study by The Center for Effective Philanthropy, researchers identified that when compared to peer organizations led by white executives, organizations led by black executives had smaller budgets and fundraising revenues. For organizations focusing on women and girls (of any race or economic status), it can be even more dispiriting: less than 2% of philanthropic dollars go to organizations with a specific mission to serve women and girls. Even so, Reaves and Permut are excited about the future for WSG. “We are incredibly fortunate to have loyal donors and institutional funding partners who believe in our mission and are committed to our students’ futures, some who have been with us since day one and some who have recently discovered us,” shares Reaves. “Our future is possible thanks to the nearly 25 years of generous philanthropic support we have received from the greater Washington community.”
While seeking to expand Washington School for Girls through philanthropic work, it is Permut’s and Reaves’ desire to bridge the gap between perpetuating negative preconceptions about historically excluded communities and their need for support. A diverse development staff is a critical indicator to potential donors, volunteers, and partners that all are welcome to be part of the mission at WSG. Permut has shown a strong commitment to equity throughout her career and says that it is her “ultimate goal to lead the Development efforts through insight and innovation. It is an honor to partner with a community that has given so much to every part of this city.”
The Washington School for Girls ignites the joyful pursuit of learning and inspires lives of faith-filled purpose, leadership, and service. WSG is an all-scholarship independent Catholic school that serves girls in grades 3-8 who reside in communities most impacted by structural racism. The school was founded in 1997 to address the inequities in education that Black and Brown girls face in Washington, particularly in Wards 7 and 8, by offering a rigorous program designed to meet their unique needs. For more information about the school, you can visit www.wsgdc.org or call Dianna Murchison at 202-678-1113×116.