Meet Our Staff


Alayna Buckner

President & CEO
Hometown: Clarke County, VA

Pronouns: she/her

Alayna founded Elevate in 2013 to make the highest-level development expertise accessible to small and medium nonprofit organizations. Since then, she has overseen Elevate’s growth to one of the country’s leading grant writing firms, serving over 225 nonprofits since its founding. She has a deep knowledge of the region’s private funding community, as well as a proven record in securing national and federal funding, and uses this knowledge to support Elevate’s staff in their work with clients. Today, Alayna continues to oversee Elevate’s staff, consult with clients to draft private and federal proposals, and develop new products that will improve the lives of nonprofit leaders. Alayna is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and American Grant Writers Association and has served as a grant reviewer for the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities and Serve DC, the Mayor’s Office on Service and Volunteerism.

Alayna graduated from Stanford University with a BA in Philosophy and Public Policy and Honors in Ethics in Society in 2006. In 2009, she was elected to serve a one-year term as the Chair of the Women’s Information Network (WIN). 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 been eligible.

Alayna is a life-long fan of the Washington Professional Football Team, and became a Nationals fan as soon as they moved back to DC.She has two adorable dogs, both pittie rescues: Tucker Q. Buckner and Greyson Rex Buckner. Tucker is a frequent visitor to the office and has his own email address, from which he frequently emails his friends to request treats. She can most often be found at Wydown Cafe, Pleasant Pops 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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