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Jennifer Leonard

President & CEO, Rochester Area Community Foundation

Years in current role: 29

What was your biggest success in 2021?

Building on our board’s commitment to catalyze positive change in Rochester, our team initiated an “inclusive recovery” strategy. We thank the many local public and private partners who have joined Executive Vice President Simeon Banister in building the North Star Coalition. It aims to harness federal and state recovery dollars to increase economic prospects for historically excluded populations, many damaged for generations by redlining and other systemic inequities. Find out more and sign the pledge at

What are your expectations for 2022?

Fifty years ago, a visionary and persistent insurance broker named Joe U. Posner founded our Community Foundation. With the support of thousands of generous donors and community partners, the Foundation has realized goals I brought in 1993: to become a powerful tool for community betterment and a regional center for individual and family philanthropy. This was never more evident than during the pandemic, when the value of a flexible community endowment became crystal clear in meeting previously unimagined needs. In October, Simeon Banister will take over the reins, co-creating a vibrant future with all of you while preserving the attributes the community expects of its Community Foundation: knowledgeable, committed, collaborative, inclusive, responsive, and trustworthy.

If time were no issue, what would you do to help the community that you aren’t already doing?

I’d address a key challenge in our educational system and economy. Our children deserve better math and science preparation to enter a 21st century workforce in which they will solve, invent, design, connect, heal, and teach the next generations. “Jump-Starting America: How Breakthrough Science Can Revive Economic Growth and the American Dream” by Jonathan Gruber and Simon Johnson (PublicAffairs, 2019) places Rochester at the top of its list for where government should invest in science and technology. Let’s build on our history and continuing assets as a science and technology center and make sure we include all of Rochester’s families in the equation.

This profile is part of Rochester Business Journal's Power 100 list for 2022. Information used in this profile was sourced from the honoree. View the full list at


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