Spreading the Leadership Loudoun Experience
Through community collaborations, Andy Johnston continues to lead, learn, and share the lessons of Leadership Loudoun.
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Andy Johnston, Leadership Loudoun (LL) class of 1999, recently gave the program the highest compliment possible. Looking to replicate his successful experience at LL, he joined the 2017 class of Leadership Fauquier, where he now lives.
“Being new to the community, LL was instrumental in connecting me to a big network of long-time and emerging leaders from Lovettsville to Middleburg and Sterling to Bluemont. It was my first foray into such an intensive leadership development program, and the knowledge I gained and the relationships I made had a positive impact on my work in Loudoun for the next 17 years. They serve me well to this day,” he said.
Not long after graduating from LL, Johnston was hired as the assistant director of Loudoun United Way, and he credits the program and its leader at the time, Marilyn Dunnell with helping him earn that position. As it turns out, it was just the beginning of Johnston’s career as a community leader: he went on to serve as the executive director of Loudoun Cares and is currently a senior program officer with the PATH Foundation. He also sits on the board of directors for the Community Foundation for Loudoun and Fauquier counties. His various roles enable him to work in close partnership with an array of community-based nonprofits, faith organizations, schools, and government entities.
The PATH Foundation is particularly invested in solving one of Virginia’s and the country’s most insidious problems, Johnston said. “My work includes efforts to mitigate the opioid epidemic through prevention, treatment, and recovery activities: working with partner agencies to develop transportation solutions for those in need, helping nonprofits build their capacity to deliver services more efficiently, and a host of other activities that are never boring, always challenging, and in some way focused on making things better for our communities and the people who live in them.”
Looking ahead, Johnston sees a storm brewing for the world of nonprofits and philanthropy because of the recent tax reform legislation and its possible effect on future charitable contributions. The doubling of the standard deduction will reduce the number of itemizers, and because charitable deductions are itemized, philanthropic experts fear that charitable giving will decline. Johnston hopes that “people will continue giving generously to churches and other nonprofits even as the tax/financial incentive to do so declines. All of us who care about charitable organizations and the important work that they do have to educate our communities and urge continued giving on the part of our citizenry.”
To weather that storm — or any challenge to the well-being of the community — Johnston cautions that the challenge for leaders is not finding the ”next big thing” in leadership advice. “It’s about incorporating thoughtful leadership principles consciously and deliberately on a daily basis.”
The PATH Foundation, a Warrenton-based organization that serves Fauquier, Rappahannock, and northern Culpeper counties, acts to improve health and wellness and the vitality of those communities on a broad scale.