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One of our core values at DRG is investing in the donor relations profession, and that includes the current and next generation of leadership. Our industry needs leaders poised to embrace change and take on the challenges of tomorrow — trailblazers who inspire an expectation of excellence among their teams.


At DRG, we have decades of experience leading successful teams and working alongside leaders of all kinds. We know what works and what doesn't, the impact extraordinary leadership can have on an organization, and the skills and characteristics that are common among the best and most inspiring supervisors. That's why we created The Leadership Experience (LX) — our exclusive professional development program designed to help you become the leader you are meant to be.

The LX program is made up of two distinct cohorts — Distinguished Leaders and Rising Stars. Learn more about the structure, application process, and investment for each program below. Are you ready to join the Leadership Experience?


The Leadership Experience

The Keys to Becoming an Extraordinary Leader

The Distinguished Leaders

The Distinguished Leaders program is designed to help experienced donor relations professionals who are in management positions become extraordinary leaders through high-level thought work and training.

The Rising Stars

The Rising Stars program is for donor relations professionals with a minimum of three years of experience in the field looking to grow their skillset and develop professionally as they prepare to take on leadership roles. Cohort 2 applications will open in 2025. 


Distinguished Leaders Program

Created for professionals who are committed to strategic donor relations, the Distinguished Leaders cohort is for those who know how to do the work and want to take the next step and elevate their leadership skills. 

Every member of the Distinguished Leaders cohort will go through an application process — they will be screened and selected by the cohort facilitators. Only 20 applicants will be selected for this cohort and it will run from August 1, 2024 until May 30, 2025. 

Each member will be paired with a DRG expert to allow for small group coaching and personalized interaction (groups will be curated by type of organization and area of focus). 

Here is what you will receive as a member of the Distinguished Leaders Cohort:


  • Five, 90-minute virtual meetings featuring focused learning, thought-leadership, conversations, and breakout sessions with DRG in the following areas*: 

    • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)

    • Talent Management and Retention

    • Strategic Decision Making 

    • State/Future of the Industry

    • Crowd-Sourced Problem Solving

    • Note: This cohort does not include formal presentations—meetings will be made up of cultivated content delivered through conversation. All meetings will be held on Mondays around 12 pm ET. 

  • Five, 60-minute ideation and crowd-sourced problem solving sessions hosted by DRG facilitators and/or Distinguished Leaders alumni.

  • A weekend-long in-person gathering in a location TBD (cost of the program includes the in-person experience but does not include travel/lodging costs)

This program also includes: 

  • A recording from each session that will be documented and shared with members of the cohort

  • A digital DRG Distinguished Leader Certification Badge to share on LinkedIn or other professional profiles

  • Exclusive discounts on all DRG products and services, including digital products, consulting, and conferences

*This is a tentative outline for conversations included in this cohort. Final topics and discussions will be informed by the members of the cohort and will be finalized based on member feedback.


Your Investment

A 10-month membership in the Distinguished Leaders program is $2,000. It's truly one of the best investments you can make in your future — both personally, and for your organization. You'll receive personalized leadership training and support from our team of innovative leaders, and an exclusive in-person experience with DRG and other members of your cohort. Plus, you’ll build a strong network of peers committed to strategic donor relations. 

Limited scholarships are available. Applicants who are interested in scholarship support can express their need within the scholarship application by answering two questions. Please understand we cannot award scholarships to all applicants who express need. 

How to Apply

All cohort members must meet the following requirements:

  • Currently occupy a Director level or above position, or have 7+ years of experience in donor relations

  • Complete the Distinguished Leaders application by June 14, 2024

  • Agree to contribute materials to the cohort (examples of policies, procedures, communications pieces, hosted talk, etc.)

  • Have a firm understanding of the 4 Pillars of Donor Relations framework

Application Process:

  • Applications will be accepted from May 13, 2024—June 14, 2024. Click here to view a sample application.

  • The cohort facilitators will select 20 participants —including a maximum of 4 scholarship recipients—and inform all applicants of their decision by June 30, 2024. The cohort will begin on August 1, 2024 and continue through May 2025. 


Meet Your Facilitators

Headshot of Lynne Wester, DRG Founder and Principal

Lynne Wester

Founder & Principal

Headshot of Matthew Helmer, DRG Consultant and Strategist

Matthew Helmer

Consultant & Strategist

Headshot of Angela Joens, DRG Consultant and Strategist

Angela Joens

Consultant & Strategist

Jenny Headshot 3.jpg

Jenny Jones

Project Specialist

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Rising Stars Program

The Rising Stars program is taking a gap year! We look forward to opening applications for Cohort 2 in 2025.

The Rising Stars program is designed for professionals with a minimum of three years of experience in the field who are looking to take on their first leadership opportunity. This program provides discipline-focused leadership training that will prepare you for the next step in your career. 

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