CFLeads: Community Foundations Leading Change



Jennifer Leonard

CEO Visits by CFLeads

Jennifer Leonard

President and Executive Director
Rochester Area Community Foundation

2012 marks three decades in community philanthropy for Jennifer Leonard, president since 1993 of the $235-million Rochester Area Community Foundation in upstate New York. The Community Foundation has grown more than seven-fold under her leadership and last year awarded $17 million in grants. Focused initiatives during Jennifer’s tenure have improved children’s advocacy, early childhood development and education, parenting, mentoring, out-of-school time programs, summer nutrition, intergroup relations, nonprofit planned giving, water quality and the sustainability of urban performing arts.

Jennifer is vice chair of the Community Foundation Services Corporation, a faculty member of the Center for Community Foundation Excellence and a member of the Second Century Project. She helped develop the first national standards for community foundations and led their implementation from 2001-2004. From 2004-2006, she chaired the Community Foundations Leadership Team at the Council on Foundations. A past co-chair of the Coalition of Community Foundations for Youth, Jennifer was instrumental in the Coalition’s transition into CFLeads and served on its National Task Force on Community Leadership.

Jennifer began her community foundation career as a program officer and grants vice president at the California Community Foundation. She worked as a writer and consultant for national nonprofits and grantmakers as well as community foundations serving New York City, Hartford, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Detroit and Dayton. Jennifer has served on the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers board, on Independent Sector’s Public Policy Committee, and on the National Panel on the Nonprofit Sector’s Advisory Committee on Self-Regulation and Working Group on Oversight and Self-Regulation. Jennifer was a final reviewer for the first round of the federal Fund for Social Innovation and a member of the New York Attorney General’s 2011 Leadership Committee on Nonprofit Revitalization.

In Rochester, Jennifer received the 2010 Athena Award from the Women’s Council of the Rochester Business Alliance. She is a trustee of the Center for Governmental Research, a member of the 2020 Health Performance Commission and the first female president of the 125-year-old Genesee Valley Club. In 2007, Rochester Business Journal named Jennifer one of “20 businesspeople who have made the biggest impact on Rochester over the past 20 years.” A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Wellesley College and former Coro Fellow in Public Affairs, Jennifer earned an urban studies master's degree from Occidental College. She lives in Rochester with husband David Cay Johnston, a Reuters columnist, author and professor.