Lenita Riley Dunlap, MPA, MA

Lenita Riley Dunlap, MPA, MA

Senior Vice President of Operations


Lenita Riley Dunlap, MPA, MA

For the past 20 years, I have dedicated my life to service and to advocacy for access to mental health and equitable education for historically excluded communities. I do this by working with educational and nonprofit organizations that uplift and empower young people and their families.

As a consultant and thought partner, I specialize in guiding teams through crisis situations and introducing their missions to various stakeholders. As a Community Development and Mental Health expert, I combine research, policy, and expertise to empower, motivate, and rally teams through facilitation and leadership development.

My commitment to mental health access was birthed from advocating for my family’s mental health journey. I witnessed first-hand the difficulty in finding proper support, as well as the lack of affordability, diversity, and cultural competency needed to create safe psychological spaces for healing. Leveraging this experience led me to revamp a failing after-school program, transforming it into a creative and innovative after-school program based on research centered around the effects of trauma on refugee children.

Instead of focusing solely on academics, I introduced trauma-informed care to the refugee serving space within after-school work that later received international recognition and accolades. In this previous leadership role, I grew the organization’s annual budget by 300% over five years, led a rebranding campaign, expanded program reach, garnered international attention, and earned certification for all sites. I was a featured speaker at the 2019 Australia and New Zealand Refugee Trauma Recovery in Resettlement Conference in Brisbane, Australia, and the North American Refugee Health Conference in Toronto, Canada. Both platforms provided an opportunity to share my unique perspective. My presentation highlights included addressing mental health during after-school programming, diving deeper into the effects of trauma on the brain in the context of refugees and observing different models of implementation for various therapies.

I also co-led and facilitated presentations for the local and global chapters for the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP). Within these platforms, I taught participants how to diversify their board and staff, as well as how to pivot and twirl during challenging times. I also shared with nonprofit leaders the need to SLOW DOWN, BREATHE, AND CELEBRATE.