Meet Our Staff


Alayna Buckner

President & CEO
Hometown: Clarke County, VA

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Alayna has been a grant writer and nonprofit consultant for her entire career. She founded Elevate in 2013 to work with a team of grant writers and to make the highest-level development expertise accessible to nonprofit organizations around the country. Since then, she has overseen Elevate’s growth to one of the country’s leading grant writing firms, serving hundreds of nonprofits since its founding, and employing over 80 staff around the country. Today, Alayna sets the organization’s vision and purpose; leads Elevate’s Executive Team; and oversees its core departments. She also works closely with her staff to develop new products and services that will improve the lives of nonprofit leaders.

Alayna graduated from Stanford University with a BA in Philosophy and Public Policy and Honors in Ethics in Society in 2006. In 2015, she became a licensed consultant by the Standards of Excellence in 2015, was named ‘40 under 40’ by Leadership Arlington, and became a member of EO (Entrepreneurs’ Organization), the global thought leader on entrepreneurship. Alayna is proud that as a women-owned business, Elevate has been named one of the country’s fastest growing businesses by Inc. 5000 every year it has applied. Alayna is also a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and American Grant Writers Association.

Alayna has two adorable dogs, both pittie rescues: Tucker Q. Buckner and Greyson Rex Buckner, who like to make a vocal appearance during Zoom calls. She is an avid baker, reader, and podcast aficionado. She can most often be found at Wydown Cafe or one of DC’s other local coffee shops.

What’s your biggest grammatical pet peeve?

Meaningless sentences. So many words…so little content. Life is too short not to commit to saying something real.

What punctuation mark would you be and why?

I would be the exclamation point (!!!) because I am just very emphatic. Not to mention generally upbeat.

What’s your favorite way to spend a Sunday afternoon?

It depends on the weather: if it is nice outside, I'd say sleeping in, having brunch, getting a pedicure, and then doing some 'urban hiking', which is walking from coffee shop to coffee shop doing a little window shopping along the way. If it is cold or rainy, then I want to be inside cozy with my little doggie, reading whatever young adult fantasy novel is en vogue at the time.

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