Community Work

Alex is always actively engaged in the philanthropic community. He is passionate about fostering relationships and believes that the cross-pollination of business and nonprofit contacts results in better business and a stronger community. He learned early on that supporting the community requires a significant investment of time and resources. The following list offers a smattering of Alex's philanthropic endeavors in the DC region.

Greater Washington Community Foundation
Champions thriving communities and serves as a catalyst for change through local philanthropic engagement, effective community investment, and civic leadership.

Recently, the Community Foundation honored Alex Orfinger with the 2024 Spirit of Philanthropy Award as part of the Celebration of Philanthropy at the National Building Museum. The event raised more than $500,000 towards building a stronger community in the Greater Washington region.

The evening began with a special reception for members of the host committee and a group of supporters affectionately known as FOA (Friends of Alex) to gather and mingle to share their congratulations with Alex. Watch the Community Foundation's Alex Orfinger tribute video.

Alex served two terms as the Secretary of the Community Foundation's Board of Directors. Alex founded and launched the David Bradt Nonprofit Education Fund. Read about the inaugural class of awardees.

In 2019, Alex worked with Diane Tipton to establish the David Bradt Nonprofit Education Fund at the Greater Washington Community Foundation. The Fund enables nonprofit leaders in the Greater Washington region to attend intensive executive training programs. To date, the foundation has raised $250,000 and is in the process of sending a third cohort of nonprofit leaders to programs at Harvard, Stanford, Georgetown, and other prestigious institutions.

David, who was the Chair of the Greater Washington Community Foundation when he met Alex, was a proponent of nonprofit leaders knowing how to read a financial statement, understand valuable management techniques, and realize the big picture. Helping nonprofit leaders learn best practices and hone their skills appealed to Alex. He conceptualized the Fund to recognize a local nonprofit champion while enhancing the ability of nonprofit leaders to achieve and surpass their organizations' missions.

"Alex called and said he had a weird idea that he thought about all weekend. He said it was something we really needed to do. The idea was to honor David, who has long been a quiet advocate for nonprofit executives and leaders in the community, by establishing a scholarship fund for nonprofit executives to pursue executive management courses," said Diane, CEO and President of Self-Storage Zone, a fellow leader in the nonprofit community, and David's wife.

"The payback of the scholarships goes on for years and years in the nonprofit community. Leaders who receive the scholarships share their expertise and grow the nonprofits in our region. It's a long-lasting legacy," said Diane. "Alex's vision was so clear. He has a real ability to listen and understand what others might not see. He brings people together who have a common interest, and he does it quietly behind the scenes."

Jubilee Housing
Builds diverse, compassionate communities that create opportunities for everyone to thrive. Jubilee Housing creates justice through housing – justice housing™.

Jim Knight, President and CEO of Jubilee Housing, met Alex several years ago when the organization was courting Alex's involvement in fund raising efforts. Alex now serves as Chair of the organization's Board. (Read about Alex's appointment here)

After Alex agreed to join the board , a building in the Jubilee neighborhood went on sale. Jim said It felt a bit early, but the building was "right in our footprint." Everyone turned to Alex, and he was reluctant because the purchase would require significant fund raising in a short amount of time. Then Charletta Cowling, a board member and resident, spoke. She recently was in the hospital, and she shared a room with Mrs. Johnson, who lived in the building that was for sale. Mrs. Johnson worried that she wouldn't have a home to go to once she was released from the hospital.

Alex couldn't say no to Charletta. He led the charge for Jubilee Housing to develop a campaign to raise $5 million to acquire this building and others in the Adams Morgan and Mount Pleasant neighborhoods. Under Alex's leadership, the justice fund was wildly successful. Jubilee Housing raised $5.27 million and was able to acquire four buildings, which will provide 125 residential units.

"Alex took a leap of faith and moved into first gear. He loved that a nonprofit was using a private equity fund to underwrite the purchase, just like big real estate developers," said Jim. "He understands the importance of marrying business rigor and acumen with social purpose. He drives social purpose within his business. He brings his business hat into the nonprofit realm. Alex combines business savvy and social purpose."

Greater DC Cares
Served as the region's largest nonprofit coordinator of volunteerism and service and connected some 40,000 Washington area volunteers with more than 700 nonprofits.

Siobhan Canty worked for Greater DC Cares for 10 years and became Executive Director of the organization under Alex's leadership as Board Chair. When she joined Greater DC Cares, the organization was a clearing house for volunteers. Working with Alex, the organization went beyond that limited scope and provided board placement services, board development services, pro-bono consulting, and skilled volunteering. This new model enabled Greater DC Cares to win the National Innovation Award from the Points of Light Network. Greater DC Cares also helped Deloitte Consulting to develop a pro-bono volunteer consulting program, now a $111 million international consulting practice.

"Alex has always been an agent of how to do community investing. He's been a champion of investing money, employees, and brand equity in Washington DC and now he does that nationally," she said. "Alex had a profound impact on the culture of DC with this lens. It's easy for companies to see community giving as a burden. He helped create a culture where community giving was celebrated."

As Chair of Greater DC Cares, Alex was willing for the organization to be innovative only if the organization was financially healthy. He brought a balance of strong business sense with strong sense of creativity. He was strategic and always considered the long term. He thought it was important for the organization to provide real value. "No one understands the balance of profit and purpose better than Alex," she said.

"He was a great mentor for people. He supported people who were fortunate enough to work with him or alongside him. That was certainly true for me," said Siobhan. "When I became the Executive Director of Greater DC Cares, he said, 'We've got your back.' That was an incredible thing for someone to say on my first day."

Leadership Greater Washington
Convenes the most visionary influencers across professions and geographies and unites them for a shared purpose: tackling the region's toughest problems.
Alex was recognized as the 2019 Leader of the Years. Hear Alex's acceptance speech.

Greater Washington Board of Trade
Works collaboratively to advance polices, practices, and actions that benefit members and improve the business environment across the region.

Mahan Tavakoli, now CEO of Strategic Leadership Ventures, met Alex when Alex was announced as the new Publisher of the Washington Business Journal. They were both regular fixtures at the Greater Washington Board of Trade's Executive Connections and Jump Start programs. Alex and Mahan became business associates and friends.

"Alex believes in bringing value to the business sector and then bringing value back to the community," said Mahan. "He gave businesses recognition, which meant something to employees and offered an avenue for greater engagement. Then businesses continued to contribute. It became a positive self-feeding loop; business interests led to community interests. Businesses gave not just for the sake of philanthropy but because philanthropy offered a strong value proposition."

Alex understood that businesses want investment in the community to be relevant to them. "Businesses can't do good just for the sake of good; there has to be a return on investment. Without profit, purpose won't last long. Without purpose, profit becomes very self-serving. That loop is something that Alex tried to create in the community," said Mahan.

The strategy at the Washington Business Journal was different from that of other print publications. Through programming, Alex raised the profile of the business sector. "What Alex did was pivot and use his skills to develop relationships, build community, and gather people at events. This brought in new revenue for the Journal. This new revenue source was valuable to the marketplace and to the community as a whole," said Mahan.

Washington Area Women's Foundation
Helps build pathways out of poverty for women and their families and creates economic opportunities that have positive ripple effects across society.

Rachel Kronowitz, Partner of Gilbert LLP, met Alex when she was a member of the 2007 Women Who Mean Business class. When she became Chair of the Board of the Washington Area Women's Foundation, her goal was to raise the visibility of the foundation. Rachel thought the fastest way was to bring notable people onto the board.

She asked Alex to join the board as the first man in years to be a member. He agreed, and his involvement became a turning point for the Foundation. "Alex has a strategic approach and commitment to work," she said. "With his help the Foundation built a high-level, impressive board, very different than the board before, which heightened the visibility of the organization and changed the trajectory. That was all Alex."

Years later Rachel helped with the Greater Leadership Washington dinner that honored Alex for his work on behalf of both the business sector and the nonprofit community. "Through his work at the Washington Business Journal, Alex lifted up so many leaders, especially those who had not been recognized before, including those who were younger, of color, and leading family-owned businesses. He thought it was important to convene all those groups," said Rachel.

She touted Alex's ability to amplify the voices of many different types of leaders and his efforts to bring leaders from a variety of groups together in the same room. "All his community work was done in a way that was thoughtful, good for his company, and gave the Washington Business Journal an impact that other business papers in other cities don't have."

United Way of the National Capital Area
Fights for everyone whose life has been skipped over or written off. Because everyone deserves hope. Everyone deserves a chance. Everyone deserves respect.
Alex served on the Board of Directors for two terms.

DC Chamber of Commerce
Brings business leaders, from tech startups to Fortune 500 companies, together to create a vibrant, thriving economy that improves the quality of life for all.

Barbara Lang, who served as President and CEO of the DC Chamber of Commerce for over 12 years, got to know Alex when he became the Chair of the Chamber's Board of Directors. He was later named Person of the Year by the organization. Barbara and Alex developed a productive collaboration at the Chamber and remain close personal friends.

Barbara saw Alex take the Journal to new heights and provide a forum for people to be recognized and heard. "He spoke to people, listened to them, and tried to understand what the issues were that faced them. Then those issues would show up in the reporting and be in the spotlight," she said.

Perhaps more importantly, Alex understood that as Publisher of a regional publication it was important that he strike a balance and not be seen to favor one part of the region over another. During Barbara's tenure at the Chamber, both Virginia and DC were trying to attract a baseball team. Alex was careful to ensure that the paper reported the facts on both sides so the public had all the necessary information.

Alex knew how to effect change and solve challenges. He convened business leaders and brought attention to the business issues of the day. He also recognized that nonprofit organizations had to be part of these discussions. "Alex was a catalyst for conversations between these two groups with very different viewpoints, and he knew that we could all play in the sandbox together."