ITHACA, N.Y. –– The nonprofit Park Foundation, known for their local investments into higher education amongst other charitable ventures, announced this week the hiring of Rachel Leon to take on the job of executive director.

Leon replaces former director Jon Jensen who served the foundation for over 12 years prior to his retirement.

Leon comes onto the job with extensive experience in areas that the Foundation focuses on –– democracy, media, environment, social justice and sustainability. She most recently served as the Executive Director at the Environmental Grantmakers Association (EGA) where she helped create a collaboration between EGA and the School for Environment and Sustainability at University of Michigan and launch a fellowship program to develop a new generation of environmental leaders.

We are so excited to have Rachel Leon join us as our new Executive Director. She is an accomplished leader, an idea person, and a fighter for the causes that our Foundation represents.  Her philosophy and experience will help magnify the difference we can make in the world,” said Adelaide Gomer, President of the Park Foundation.

Prior to EGA where Leon was ED for 11 years, she worked as a Senior Program Manager at the JEHT Foundation on Participatory Elections, and from 1997 to 2007 she served as the Executive Director of New York Common Cause where she lobbied, organized, and tracked money in politics, created significant fundraising events and served as a spokesperson for the organization.  During her 10-year stint at Common Cause, she strengthened the New York Chapter, increased its budget, and led successful legislative efforts on local, state, and national levels.

Before Common Cause, Rachel spent six years at Hunger Action Network –– an organization that addresses the root causes of hunger and poverty and advances economic justice and food security –– as a lobbyist, advocate and then as Associate Director. During her time there, she was responsible for advancing their legislative and programmatic priorities and helped manage staff, finances, and infrastructure.

Leon has a BA from SUNY New Paltz and an MPA from Baruch College graduating from both with Honors. She is a lifelong New Yorker and was born and raised in Schenectady, NY.  She begins her tenure at the Park Foundation on November 1.

Anna Lamb

Anna Lamb is a reporter for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at alamb@ithacavoice.com