Greater Washington Partnership CEO steps down
JB Holston's last day was Thursday
Greater Washington Partnership CEO JB Holston has left the organization he has led since September 2020.
Holston’s last day was Thursday, Nina Sharma, a partnership spokesperson confirmed to Virginia Business. It comes one day after the alliance of business and community leaders from Baltimore through Richmond announced a five-year, $4.7 billion effort to invest in growing minority-led businesses and underrepresented communities throughout the region.
Holston will continue as a senior adviser to the partnership’s board and leadership through 2022 and the search for a new CEO has already begun, according to a Feb. 11 note sent to board members by Partnership Chair Peter Scher informing them of Holston’s impending departure, which he wrote would happen at the end of March.
In the note obtained by Virginia Business, Scher wrote that he and Holston had been discussing “his family’s plans to return to Colorado for some time.”
Holston joined the partnership after a national search and previously served as dean of the Daniel Felix Ritchie School of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Denver. He also served in senior executive positions at General Electric and NBC, spending more than three decades in business leadership roles.
“For the last two years, he has been a valued leader during a time of profound change and accomplishment for the partnership and our region,” Scher wrote.
Neither Scher, who is also vice chair of JPMorgan Chase & Co., or Holston, were available for interview Thursday.
“We’ve accomplished a tremendous amount over the last two COVID years, and I’ll continue to assist as a senior adviser,” Holston said in a statement provided by Scher’s office. “The partnership has a terrific team and plans in place and, most importantly, the support of great individuals and organizations across the region. I’m particularly proud of our inclusive growth initiative, launched 18 months ago, which has rallied billions of dollars of incremental commitments across organizations in the region.”
That initiative appeared to culminate Wednesday when Vice President Kamala Harris joined the partnership at Howard University in Washington for its announcement of an initiative to infuse $4.7 billion in funding to help advance business efforts of minority and other underrepresented communities while addressing systemic inequities that have served as barriers for growth. That amount includes $2.6 billion in procurement spending with diverse suppliers, including Black and Latino-owned business to support growth and scale and address critical needs; $1.5 billion in other wealth-building efforts, including direct corporate investments in affordable housing and local community organizations leading equity initiatives; and another $619 million for financial investments in financial institutions that provide access to underrepresented populations via loans and other financing to create economic opportunity.
Organizations involved in the effort include Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, Amazon.com Inc., AstraZeneca, Bank of America, Boston Consulting Group, Capital One Financial Corp., Clark Construction, Comcast, Deloitte, Dominion Energy Inc., Exelon, Ernst & Young, Gensler, Georgetown University, Howard University, Inova Health System, JBG Smith, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Kaiser Permanente, McKinsey & Co., Northrop Grumman Corp., SAIC, Thompson Hospitality, Truist, the Washington Commanders, and Wells Fargo.
According to a news release, the $2.6 billion supplier diversity effort is expected generate nearly $3.5 billion in revenue for small and medium-sized businesses and create nearly 4,000 jobs annually. The partnership says it will amplify efforts by sharing data and practices through leadership roundtables. Under its efforts in racial equity, the partnership pointed to Amazon’s Housing Equity Fund, which has committed more than $795 million in low-rate loans and grants around the e-tailer’s HQ2 in Northern Virginia to create and preserve nearly 4,000 affordable homes.
The partnership is also developing a 10-year Inclusive Growth Blueprint with Deloitte to serve as a roadmap to close gaps and advance prosperity, the news release said.
Scher lauded Holston’s leadership in his February note to board members, and thanked him for his efforts, including strengthening the partnership’s organization and, for the first time, creating a substantial financial reserve.
“Under JB’s leadership, the partnership’s efforts to address many critical issues facing the region and ensure it remains one of the best places to live, work and invest have gained substantial momentum,” Scher wrote. “We have launched the Inclusive Growth Strategy Council and made significant progress advocating for and advancing regional solutions for transportation, mobility and talent. We’ve welcomed new board members and other major employers into the partnership fold, more than doubling the number of organizations supporting our work; added tremendous talent to an already strong senior leadership team; and substantially expanded the Partnership’s connection to the community, including the new community members of our board.”
Founded in 2016, the GWP developed the talent pipeline Capital CoLAB, played a hand in Amazon.com Inc.’s HQ2 site selection in Northern Virginia and has launched other initiatives focused on housing needs and COVID-19 approaches.