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Mary Kay Leonard Joins CEP as First Director of Advisory Services

Date: February 23, 2015

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Media Contact: Grace Nicolette – Director, Marketing and Programming: 617-492-0800 x236

Cambridge, MA – The Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP) announced today that Mary Kay Leonard has joined the organization as its first director of advisory services. Leonard comes to CEP with more than 30 years of experience in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. She will lead the strategy and implementation of CEP’s advisory services practice, delivering customized, data-driven recommendations to foundation leaders.

Leonard’s hiring marks a new era in CEP’s 14-year history of helping foundations to be more effective in pursuing their programmatic goals. Under her leadership, CEP’s advisory services practice will expand and build upon CEP’s existing work in the areas of foundation-grantee relationships, performance measurement, operational benchmarking, and information sharing among foundations.

“CEP has contributed to meaningful, documented change in foundation practice with our benchmarking data delivered through our assessment tools and research, as well as through our programs focused on foundation effectiveness,” said CEP President Phil Buchanan. “The creation of an advisory services practice responds to repeated requests from foundations for us to go deeper in our work with them, and Mary Kay Leonard brings the leadership experience and practical skills to allow us to do that.”

Leonard brings a wealth of experience to her new role with CEP. Most recently, she worked as an independent consultant to public, private, and non-profit organizations. Prior to her consulting work, Leonard held several leadership positions, including serving as president and CEO of The Initiative for a Competitive Inner City, a national nonprofit providing research and consultation support to foundations, businesses, and government bodies working to improve inner city economies. She has also served as senior vice president of The Community Builders, Inc., group vice president for investor relations at United Way of America, and chief operating officer and interim CEO for United Way of Massachusetts Bay. Earlier in her career, Leonard held roles in the public sector as commissioner of the Massachusetts Office for Children and chief legal counsel with the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services.

She currently serves on the boards of the United Way of Mass Bay Merrimack Valley, Blue Cross Blue Shield Mass Foundation, and Imagine Tolerance, as well as on the advisory board of the Northeastern University Corporation.

“As a CEO, COO, and board member of major funder organizations, Mary Kay has grappled first-hand with the decisions that leaders of CEP’s clients face every day,” said CEP Vice President, Assessment Tools, Kevin Bolduc. “She knows the ways that rigorous data and analysis, combined with a deep commitment to social good, help those decisions get made effectively. I am very excited to work with Mary Kay as she brings those incredible skills and experiences to bear on the challenge of helping foundations continually improve their effectiveness.”

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with CEP’s clients, board and staff to shape and deliver a portfolio of advisory services which will both respond to the evolving needs of individual clients and, ultimately, enhance the effectiveness of all philanthropy,” said Leonard.

Leonard has also served as an adjunct faculty member at UMass-Boston and Northeastern School of Law. She holds a J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law and a B.A. in urban studies from Colgate University.

About the Center for Effective Philanthropy

The Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP) is a nonprofit organization with a mission to provide data and create insight so philanthropic funders can better define, assess, and improve their effectiveness and impact. CEP received initial funding in 2001 and has offices in Cambridge, Massachusetts and San Francisco, California. For more information on CEP’s work, including its research, publications, and assessment tools, see

The Center for Effective Philanthropy – Improving foundation performance through data and insight.


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