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Fall 2020 Advisory

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Gloria Johnson-Cusack

Lecturer; Chairman, Board of Trustees, Firelight Foundation

Gloria Johnson-Cusack is a recognized voice in the philanthropic sector who brings real-time counsel and insights to leadership teams and boards. She has been quoted in several national news outlets including a personal feature in CNN/Money news.

Her work is informed by leadership positions in the private and philanthropic sectors, as well as significant time spent in the U.S. Congress, federal and municipal agencies, presidential campaigns, and the White House.

Currently, Johnson-Cusack is an a part-time lecturer for the Master of Science in Nonprofit Management program at Columbia University, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Silicon Valley-based Firelight Foundation supporting community organizations in Africa, and consultant for leaders in philanthropy and the nonprofit sector regarding governance, coaching and leadership development, change leadership, and strategic planning for resource development and advocacy.

Johnson-Cusack is the immediate past President and CEO of the National Human Services Assembly (NHSA), a Washington, D.C.-based association comprised of over 80 of the largest national human services organizations. Prior to that, she was Executive Director of Leadership 18, an alliance of 18+ CEO’s responsible for leading national nonprofit organizations including American Red Cross, Boy Scouts of America, Catholic Charities USA, Girl Scouts of the USA, The Salvation Army, The YMCA, and United Way Worldwide. In that role, she was a lobbyist and a principal strategist for the national Charitable Giving Coalition focused on preserving charitable tax incentives in the U.S.

She also served as a Senior Vice President at GMMB, a cause-marketing advertising and communications firm serving nonprofits, membership organizations, and foundations; Chief of Staff of the D.C. Office of the Inspector General; Director of the Office of Congressional Relations at the U.S. Peace Corps; Special Assistant to the President in the White House Office of National Service; and Director of Constituent Relations at the Corporation for National and Community Service. She was policy advisor to Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton and Senator Albert Gore, Jr.

Johnson-Cusack completed a year-long United Way Worldwide Executive Leadership Development Program conducted at Harvard Business School, the Center for Creative Leadership, and Deloitte University. She holds graduate and undergraduate degrees from the American University School of Public Affairs and Columbia College, Columbia University. She is certified with the Myers and Briggs Training Institute. She loves the outdoors, kids, and grown-ups too.


  • NOPM PS5390: Nonprofit Management Capstone Project
  • NOPM PS5350: Policy and Advocacy in the Philanthropic Sector
  • NOPM PS5200: Leadership in the Charitable Sector


  • M.P.A., American University
  • B.S., Columbia University