Forty Under Forty: Katie Leonberger

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Katie Leonberger

President and CEO Community Resource Exchange 


INVESTING IN INFRASTRUCTURE

Fast fact: Tweet her @katieleonberger


Katie Leonberger leads Community Resource Exchange (CRE), a nonprofit consulting firm that gives nonprofits the means to build sustainable organizations that lead to social change. She specializes in organizational development, planning and innovation, and leads client engagements in these areas. Before she joined CRE, Leonberger was a senior leader on the Government Innovation team at Bloomberg Philanthropies, where she led initiatives to promote public sector innovation, and a consultant at McKinsey and Company where she focused on strategy and organizational development. 

 

NYN: HOW DID YOU BECOME INTERESTED IN YOUR FIELD?

KL: I really enjoy partnering and working with others to help them succeed and make a real impact in the world. By getting to work with a lot of different groups, we get to have and I get to feel like I’m supporting groups that have an impact across the city. I’ve always had a very strong personal interest in poverty reduction and social justicetype work. I spent a lot of time living abroad doing international development and poverty reduction work in Latin America, also in Africa, and always knew I wanted to get into this work full time. But when I was working in Africa in microfinance, I realized I didn’t know much about how to run organizations … so I decided to go to business school. 

 

NYN: DESCRIBE AN ACCOMPLISHMENT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF.

KL: One thing I’m really proud of that we did very quickly in my first year at CRE was launch the CRE Rising Fund. That is our pro-bono initiative to ensure we are getting our services out to organizations who otherwise wouldn’t have access to our support, either because they can’t afford it themselves or because they don’t have access to the foundation and government funders who many times will fund our work with organizations as kind of third-party support. 

 

NYN: WHAT IS THE ONE THING YOU’D LIKE TO ACCOMPLISH BEFORE YOU RETIRE?

KL: I would love to make it standard that every single nonprofit and social change organization has the support from their funders and boards to invest in strengthening their infrastructure and management to the same degree that we do in the private sector. I would love to make that a standard part of doing business, not because it’s going to feed CRE but because that’s going to make stronger organizations. I think that we really underinvest in the organizations that are driving the most important changes in communities and therefore our country.

 

NYN: WHAT DO YOU WISH PEOPLE KNEW ABOUT YOUR JOB?

KL: There’s a whole sector of capacity builders that do this work and that there’s resources available to social change organizations to help them do their work even better and more impactfully. So, number one is that there’s resources there that can take many different shapes and forms. 

 

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