Dionne Washington

Co-Founder and Executive Director, Project Roots AZ

Dionne’s passion and excitement to help others is inspiring.

Why do you believe honoring achievement is important?

The single most important thing I have learned throughout my career is perseverance. Being a professional for the last 20 years, owning multiple businesses and starting a nonprofit required one common trait, and that was perseverance. I was able to tap into it in everything I dared to try to achieve — starting with being a single mother of three young children while working full time as well as going to school online full time. I did this for 6 years. There were times that I had to wake up by 5am, dress my babies, drive them to a in home caregiver, work for 8 hours 10 miles away from them, pick them up, feed them, bathe and spend time a little time with all of them before putting them to bed so I can study at night. I had visual reminders of what I wanted our life to be and that was my daily push.

In my experience as an entrepreneur, I learned that I had to hear a lot of “noes” before I got my first “yes,” that first supporter. When I got that first yes, I remember sitting in my car, crying and thanking God that someone finally believed in me and in my service. I proved to myself that getting through all those noes was worth it.

What insights have you gained in your career that would inspire others?

Several important “things” to inspire others stand out to me: understanding that a lot is going on in everyone’s life and we are only one small part of that life; regularly giving people new opportunities, whether it is a single task or delegating an entirely new program to design and implement. 

The concept of a team overrides anything one person can do on their own. Be ready to assist in accomplishing the goal and helping others do the same regardless of the task. 

Personally, seeing the funny side of each day — being able to laugh at oneself or laugh with others, is good for the soul. 

And working in a field and place where you love what you do makes a significant difference in how you approach each day. 

I often say the following related to leadership: Positive leadership comes in many shapes, sizes and voices. It is not about title, rank or status. It is about responsibility, an ethical value system and inclusiveness. It is understanding that, without others, there is no leadership. It is about listening, not just hearing. It is about establishing a direction, but knowing there are numerous paths to reach the goal. Finally, leadership is knowing yourself — constantly striving to improve, to change, to be aware of the subtleties of a situation, and to gain from each experience.

What can we do — now — to make a difference for young people/women in Arizona?

When I was a young and hungry professional, I had to show up early and leave late just to get the respect of my male peers and supervisors. I worked hard to show my leaders that I could be a servant leader, and do it to the best of my ability. That I could execute the tasks that were asked of me and bring in other team members to help me execute. Oftentimes, that still wasn’t enough to be recognized or promoted in the workplace.

I would say to those who have an opportunity to uplift young women and young people in general, please do it. They are so full of amazing and life-changing ideas that will impact our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

One outstanding organization that is youth-lead is African American Reconstruction (AAR). This organization was founded by Black high school and college students in Arizona, with a mission to spark a modern Reconstruction Era dedicated to the advancement of the African American community. This is just one of many examples of the type of amazing caliber of young leaders we have in our state.

About Me:

Dionne Washington is a local Arizona native with a background in business administration, event planning and fundraising. She is a single mother of three outstanding teenagers who attend Sunnyslope High School. When her children were small, Washington decided to complete her degrees and earned an undergraduate degree in business management and her master’s degree in business administration at Grand Canyon University. Passionate about feeding and serving the community, Washington is responsible for all community relationships, grants and fundraising as well as serving a local food purchaser on behalf of Project Roots in AZ, and recently accepted a position with the Arizona Food Bank network as the Friends of the Farm manager.

In Few Words

  • What was the last course, certification or training you took to improve yourself professionally? Mindfulness certification back in 2019
  • What would you say is a single characteristic OTHERS might attribute to you that defines your success? Persistence/Perseverance
  • What is the one thing you feel you could work on professionally to be a greater success? Time management and learning how to say no
  • What is the one professional skill you have that has gotten you where you are today? Servant leadership
  • What is the single greatest issue facing Arizona today? Hunger

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