C. Marie Taylor Credit: Via C. Marie Taylor

Leadership Montgomery, the nonprofit group that has provided education and training to many of Montgomery County’s business and political leaders, has hired a new executive director.

C. Marie Taylor, executive director of the Community Foundation for Montgomery County, will take over as CEO for Leadership Montgomery next month.

Taylor will replace Esther Newman, who founded Leadership Montgomery 26 years ago. Its core program, a nine-month course with hands-on study of some of the biggest issues facing the county, has become an important training ground for future elected leaders, nonprofit directors, government officials, business executives and others.

Over Newman’s tenure, Leadership Montgomery graduated about 2,000 people from its programs.

Taylor said she’d like to partner with businesses and nonprofits and perhaps connect those 2,000 Leadership Montgomery graduates to mentoring or scholarship programs in the county’s school system.

“If there’s a way our leaders can provide assistance, we have 2,000 at our disposal,” Taylor said. “Why not harness the power of these members. There are a lot of people who want to help but we’re missing that connecting piece.”

Taylor said she’ll also explore expanding member benefits and the group’s advocacy work.

Leadership Montgomery board member Bradley Colton said Taylor’s energy fit what the organization was looking for.

“I wouldn’t say we’ll expand as much as she’ll bring some new ideas,” Colton said. “With Esther being there for 26 years, it’s an opportunity to reevaluate and reenergize the 2,000 graduates we have and see how we can get them to be more engaged to make the kind of change we want to in Montgomery County.”

Taylor has worked in the nonprofit and social services world for more than 20 years, serving as executive director of Interfaith Works before moving to the Community Foundation in 2013. At the Community Foundation, she oversaw the group’s work in Montgomery County helping to finance and evaluate other local charities and nonprofits.

She graduated from Leadership Montgomery’s 2012 class and pointed to projects such as the Red Wiggler Community Farm in Clarksburg as an example of the type of project that can result when leaders in the program “meet and forge some synergies.”

“It brings together people from different backgrounds and they can find ways to work positively moving forward,” Taylor said. “I’m really eager to build on that.”

The Red Wiggler nonprofit provides employment in horticulture and farming for adults with developmental disabilities and was founded in 1996 out of a group that took part in the Leadership Montgomery program.