Former school board member and YouthWorks director Dara Ware Allen, PhD was recently named the new chief operating officer of Leadership Pittsburgh Inc., a non-profit organization devoted to leadership identification, enrichment and networking.
“We are delighted to welcome Dara to our team. As an alumna, Dara brings with her a client perspective on the programmatic and alumni engagement activities for both of our selection-based programs. We look forward to creative ideas emerging from her impressive background and understanding of our region that will benefit not only our programs but equally importantly our overall operations and engagement activities. Her addition to the team is perfectly timed with the launch of our new strategic planning process,” said Aradhna M. Oliphant, president and CEO of Leadership Pittsburgh.
In the newly created role of COO, Allen will be tasked with the development and management of Leadership Pittsburgh, an LPI program which connects senior-level leaders to civic issues and to a broad network of influencers in the region. As an alumnus of the ten-month community leadership program, Allen knows its benefits first hand.
“I’m an alumnus of both of the programs Leadership Pittsburgh runs and they were such pivotal experiences for me and I have a love for the organization and what it does,” Allen said. “Having been through the program I know the power of what Leadership Pittsburgh can accomplish in being able to advance issues that are important for the region.”
Allen said she was drawn to the position with LPI because of the organization’s commitment to issues around public education, human services, juvenile justice, inclusion, and civic engagement. She said LPI plays an influential role in shaping the region’s leaders to become more involved in these issues.
“When you think about those who are in positions of leadership now, they turn to Leadership Pittsburgh as an education resource. “It’s for existing leaders as well as new transplants in the area. Leadership Pittsburgh is the organization they turn to. That’s something that excited me as well,” Allen said. “When we’re able to leverage the power of folks in these situations, Pittsburgh will be more inclusive, it will allow us to advance all of these interests.
LPI has graduated more than 1,800 individuals through its leadership training programs. Many of these individuals have gone on to find placement on the region’s various nonprofit and public boards and commissions.
“My whole career has been focused on the provision of service for individuals who have not been included. And then I have this education background of creating training programs,” Allen said. “The relationships I’ve built within the Pittsburgh region have been very critical in me being able to do this work.”
Allen became the executive director of YouthWorks in May 2004, but she got her start with the organization in 1996 as a program manager. In between her time with YouthWorks, she also served as the director of Penn State’s Educational Opportunity Centers of Southwestern PA.
“I love the mission of YouthWorks. I feel very connected to our mission. I love the people I work with, our board of directors, the partners we have, and obviously the young people. This organization allowed me to be connected to some amazing folks,” Allen said. “So I’m going to miss that environment, but what feels good about this new role, is the work at YouthWorks will continue. I’m going to be on another front working to advance causes that are important to both organizations.”