Dana Wilson Selected Next President and CEO of BRIDGES
Dana Wilson has been selected to succeed Cynthia Ham as president and chief executive officer of BRIDGES USA when Ham steps down at the end of December 2019. Wilson, the current vice president of the Bridge Builders program, was selected by unanimous vote of the BRIDGES Board of Trustees on Sept. 27, 2018.
Ham, who has led the 96-year-old youth leadership and development nonprofit for the past six years, will remain CEO through 2019 while Wilson steps into the role of president. Wilson will then assume the dual president/CEO position in January 2020.
“Dana is uniquely suited for this job,” said Ham. “She has the passion for youth leadership development, valuable education credentials, management experience, fundraising abilities, a collaborative nature and an abiding love of Memphis. BRIDGES is a dynamic organization, constantly evolving to serve the changing needs of Memphis—a city starved for youth voice to help it live up to its potential as a vibrant, thriving community. And Dana is the absolute best person to lead BRIDGES into our next chapter.”
This is the first time in BRIDGES’ history that the board has chosen a staff member from within the ranks as the next leader of the organization.
“Our ability to promote from within is a testament to BRIDGES’ overall strength and its depth of talent,” said BRIDGES Board Chair Kevin Woods. “There’s no substitute for Dana’s decade of experience as an integral part of this organization, or for her vision and thought leadership in the growing field of youth leadership development.”
Wilson joined BRIDGES in 2008 as a program coordinator. Under the leadership of then-president Jim Boyd, she developed a comprehensive curriculum and internal evaluation for the expanded Bridge Builders program, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. In 2013 she was named VP of Bridge Builders.
A native Memphian and graduate of White Station High School, Wilson earned her bachelor’s degree in film production from the University of Colorado-Boulder and a master’s in educational leadership and administration from George Washington University. She is bilingual in English and Spanish and spent several years teaching in Guatemala and Mexico, where she served as vice principal of the Atid School, a Jewish institution in Mexico City focused on trilingual international education.
Wilson is passionate about critical pedagogy, social justice education, and storytelling. In 2018, she produced Youth Action Stories, a national audiovisual project that chronicles how youth and adults can work together to transform their communities.
“After spending the past summer visiting youth programs across five U.S. cities, I’m more excited about Bridge Builders than ever before,” Wilson said. “We’re doing something unique and powerful here in Memphis, and I’m so honored to carry on the BRIDGES legacy.”