Igniting leaders with the skill development to make an impact in your organization and community.


The purpose of the Ignite Young Professional Program is to expose participants to skills, ideas, and established area leaders, offer a space to explore personal and professional leadership development, and catapult emerging leaders into situations that create value and impact.


  • A cross-sector, diverse cohort of emerging, regional leaders who are curious to develop soft skills around self awareness, building teams, conflict management, networking, and presenting.
  • A forum, guided by experienced practitioners and regional leaders, designed for self discovery and practical applications for personal and professional development.
  • An opportunity for a hands on development of leadership and civic engagement skills in a high-impact team service project with one of Volunteer Arlington's nonprofit partners
  • Access to an alumni base of 1,500+ graduates.


The Ignite program consists of 8 half-day sessions, held once a month from October through April, and concludes with a Leadership Summit in May. Program days are from 12:00 - 5:00 p.m.


  • Up-and-coming or emerging leaders from the region who are eager to grow.
  • Community-minded leaders who are seeking to make a difference in their communities.


The Selection Committee seeks a diverse cohort of established leaders who demonstrate a commitment to personal growth, civic engagement, and community impact.

If you would like to discuss the program, please contact Lisa Fikes at lfikes@leadercenter.org.

Ignite program day
Ignite program day


We are now accepting applications for the Ignite Class of 2025!


May 9, 2024: Applications from Arlington County employees are due by 5:00 p.m.

May 24, 2024: Community applications are due by 5:00 p.m.

June 11, 2024: Applicants will be notified

July 2024: Class of 2025 Announced


Classes will meet on the following days from 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

  • Thursday, October 10, 2024
  • Thursday, November 7, 2024
  • Thursday, December 5, 2024
  • Thursday, January 16, 2025
  • Thursday, February 13, 2025
  • Thursday, March 13, 2025
  • Thursday, April 10, 2025
  • Thursday, May 15, 2025 - Leadership Summit and Commencement (followed by reception)


Attend one of our free virtual information sessions to learn about our Class of 2025 programs.



Leadership Center for Excellence (LCE) encourages all qualified candidates to apply regardless of financial status.

Tuition covers the monthly programs, one ticket for the Regional Leadership Summit and Alumni Reception, and access to the LCE alumni directory and ongoing alumni resources and networking opportunities.

LCE provides partial scholarships to nonprofit and small business applicants, based on need and funds available. Scholarship requests are not a factor in the selection process.

Scholarship applications are due by Friday, May 24, 2024 at 5:00 p.m. (at the same time as the program applications). Scholarship applications will not be accepted after this date.


Application deadline: Friday, May 24, 2024 at 5:00 p.m.


Application deadline: Thursday, May 9, 2024 at 5:00 p.m.


If you would like to discuss the program, please contact Lisa Fikes at lfikes@leadercenter.org.


Ignite Class of 2024

The Ignite Young Professionals Class of 2024 includes 30 leaders from the business, government, and nonprofit sectors:

  • Lizzi Alarcón, Arlington County Government, Department of Human Services
  • Tommy Amal, National Association for College Admission Counseling
  • Tanishia Bailey, Booz Allen Hamilton
  • Cliff Ballena, Animal Welfare League of Arlington
  • Niall Conrick, Clark Construction
  • Jana Godaire, Chain Bridge Bank, N.A.
  • Jamari Green, Deloitte
  • Samuel Hill, Arlington County Government, Treasurer’s Office
  • Maggie Hutzel, GDIT
  • Addy Johnson, Accenture
  • Alana Kasindorf, Nestlé
  • Ta’Jah Martin, Arlington County Government, Department of Environmental Services
  • Natalie McClellan, Brookfield Properties
  • Margaret McCoy, Aspire Afterschool Learning
  • Kiana McKenna, NRECA
  • Celeste McKenzie, Leadership Center for Excellence
  • Samantha McNamara, Arlington County Police Department
  • Adeline Mishler, EY
  • Dymand Mitchell, Aridai
  • John Musso, Arlington Chamber of Commerce
  • Laney Parrott, AHC Inc.
  • Jasmine Pierce, Accenture Federal Services
  • John Reynolds, Maximus
  • Aida Salamanca, Arlington Free Clinic
  • Rachel Seay, The Craddock Group
  • Joseph Shook, Clark Construction Group, LLC
  • Carli Sims, Gilbane Building Company
  • Zachary Smith, Brown Advisory
  • Katherine Thompson, LMI
  • Margaret Vaughan, Strategic Engineering Solutions


Classes will meet on the following days from 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

  • Thursday, October 12, 2023
  • Thursday, November 9, 2023
  • Thursday, December 7, 2023
  • Thursday, January 11, 2024
  • Thursday, February 8, 2024
  • Thursday, March 14, 2024
  • Thursday, April 11, 2024
  • Thursday, May 16, 2024 - Regional Leadership Summit and Commencement (followed by reception)


If you would like to discuss the program, please contact Lisa Fikes at lfikes@leadercenter.org.


Janetta Brewer (LA '17)
Christina Dietrich (LA ’23)
Will Flagler (LA '17)
Takis Karantonis (LA '10)
Kris Krider (LA '19)
Rupal Lamorena (LA '19)
Matt Owens (LA '21)
Mike Richardson (LA '13)
Debby Taylor (LA '99)
Diana Waller (LA '18)


Mary-Claire Burick
Stacy Cook (LA '19)
Charles Davidson
Scott Nycum (LA '14)
Mary Ellen Payne (LA '11)
Kristine Wood (LA ' 15)

"My expectations after my acceptance to the Spring 2014 Young Professionals Program class were to sharpen some professional skills, learn about the new community to which I had recently moved and make a few contacts along the way. The program exceeded those expectations and more!"

Dan Imhoff, BB&T, Spring Class of 2014 Participant

"[Ignite] gave me some useful tools to understand myself better and look at my professional development and personal branding in a different light. My biggest advice to anyone looking to be part of this experience is to come with an open mind and an eagerness to take in all the experiences. Post cohort, I believe I am a more confident person who is comfortable taking the lead. I have also been promoted within my organization and I have been put into more leadership roles. I am really grateful to the Leadership Center and all my colleagues that made it worthwhile."

Edgar Awumey, AHC, Inc., Class of 2022 Participant

"I’ve been pleased to witness the transformation of my team members who have completed the Leadership Center’s Young Professionals Program. Their confidence, collaborative spirit and broader consulting skills have developed significantly as a result of the program. Though we always pride ourselves on hiring the best at every level, the Young Professionals Program catapults these rising stars forward at a significantly greater pace."

Zach Wahl, Enterprise Knowledge, Employer of Participant

"Leadership is the key to success for businesses and communities. I can think of no better preparation for future leaders in this area than the Young Professionals Program."

Todd Yeatts, Boeing, Employer of Participant