Janelle Suggs

Director, Leadership Practice & Networks

As a change agent and director of leadership practice and networks, Janelle is responsible for the design, implementation and oversight of CommonHealth ACTION’s (CHA) leadership development portfolio, encompassing in-house corporate leadership development programs and workshops for individuals and client organizations. Using evidence-based and experience-informed practices, Janelle’s top priority is providing leaders, entrepreneurs and leadership teams with necessary tools to reframe norms and create meaningful and lasting change to promote equitable outcomes. Janelle believes that an equitable leader must first commit to their own personal equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) journey and develop and stand in their values of equity, before carrying out the practices necessary to effectively lead a team and improve workplace culture.

I see all of society’s inequities and recognize that what is ‘fair opportunity’ is not the same for everyone. Without equity, all efforts to promote diversity and inclusion are short-lived.

With more than 15 years of project management experience in nonprofit, higher education, and government agencies, Janelle brings a unique and creative strategic approach to problem-solving.  She first joined CHA in 2011 and supported the organization in a variety of capacities including human resources, operations and budgeting, Board of Directors relations, training and facilitation, and program management. She’s worked directly with small and large clients across the United States, providing technical assistance and strategic direction for EDI initiatives. As a master trainer and facilitator for the EDI Training Institute, Janelle spent the last six years co-developing curricula for groups of all sizes, demographics, and sectors. Not only does she train clients, she also provides coaching and leadership support to CHA trainers using a train-the-trainer model.

Janelle graduated from Morgan State University with a bachelor’s degree in finance and then went on to obtain an MBA from the University of Baltimore. Fast forward more than a decade later, after working closely with CHA’s Culture of Health Leaders program participants, assisting in the creation of the program’s curricula, and facilitating the courses, Janelle began to deeply practice, study, and unpack leadership in her professional career and personal life. Her passion for leadership continued to grow and in 2018, she attended Cornell University, where she obtained a certificate in leadership psychology.

Shortly thereafter, Janelle accepted an opportunity to work for the District of Columbia Government, where she would spend the next three years of her professional career creating change in the local government sector. As the organizational change management team lead with the Department of Health Care Finance, she was involved in implementing the District’s long-term project to fully integrate all health and human services, eligibility, and enrollment. In addition, she served as the DC Department of Health, Registration and Policy unit supervisor for vital records, providing oversight for birth and death registration activities in the District. Janelle focused her efforts on updating the District’s outdated vital records laws and regulations, advancing homebirth practices and procedures, and building relationships with local medical facilities and funeral homes to improve data collection processes.

Finding herself too far removed from the work of EDI, in July of 2021, Janelle came back to where her EDI journey started—with CommonHealth ACTION. Today, she is married with two children and based in CHA’s Washington, DC headquarters.