Janaiha Bennett and son outside
Category: Alumni News, Discovery & Impact, General News

Title: Turning passion into action: A McCourt Center alum’s journey from nonprofit mentor to executive director

“Being able to marry theory and practice is what made my experience at the McCourt School above and beyond.”

Janaiha Bennett, alumna of the Nonprofit Management Certificate Program at the McCourt School’s Center for Public & Nonprofit Leadership
Janaiha Bennett headshot

Bennett’s proudest moments as an executive leader have been the little moments — “when a young person aspires to become a mentor with YLF because of their own experience or when parents weep at the end of a program because of the impact it’s had on their child,” she said. “It’s the understanding that our team is really making a difference with individuals and showing them how they can affect change within their own communities.”

Bennett is among many former mentors who still keep in touch with mentees. One student, “who was very shy and reserved in middle school, evolved into an instructor and leader for YLF while in high school,” said Bennett. “We helped her develop a deep sense of resilience and agency — and now she works in public health advocacy.”

Bennett attributes much of her own personal and professional growth to YLF, the continued support from other local nonprofit leaders and the relationships she built as a student in the McCourt School. “Even after the program, my peers and former professors are still willing to lend their expertise and advice,” she said. 

In the years ahead, Bennett is confident that the family-oriented culture at YLF will continue to help facilitate her leadership development, and that she and her team will remain dedicated to their own personal growth and seek mentorship in each other.

“It’s important for anyone entering into nonprofit executive leadership to know that it takes a village. The Youth Leadership Foundation’s work is just one piece of a wider web of organizations that are helping to keep our community strong.”

Learn more about ways to get involved with YLF.