SPRINGFIELD – Kate C. Conn has joined the Harold Grinspoon Foundation in a newly-created position as chief executive officer. Together with its founder, Harold Grinspoon, she will work to further the Foundation’s philanthropic mission to enhance Jewish and community life in North America, Israel and beyond, and develop innovative strategies as the organization celebrates 20 years of philanthropy.
A senior executive leader in the nonprofit and philanthropic sector, Conn, 56, comes to the Foundation after most recently serving as founding executive director and president of the Aldo Leopold Nature Center, Inc., an educational and entrepreneurial nonprofit in Madison, Wisc. Conn grew the organization into one of the region’s leading institutions. Known for her collaborative leadership style, Conn established regional and state-wide cooperative networks and strong national partnerships with community, government, and industry leaders. She is credited with the creation of a groundbreaking interactive museum and learning center, and award-winning programs.
Conn has served in leadership capacities at the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, and several cultural organizations, philanthropic, and policy institutions. In addition to her nonprofit and community work, Conn was a special consultant for an American Girl book series and an author for the Wisconsin Historical Press Badger Biography series.
When Conn first met Harold Grinspoon, 83, they quickly realized they were kindred spirits. The two spent time sharing insights about their businesses, interests, and life missions. Grinspoon was intrigued by Conn’s entrepreneurial style and her vision for what philanthropy could accomplish in the world. He liked her keen ability to listen and her desire to help strengthen young Jewish identities. “Kate brings in new energy and ideas as we celebrate 20 years of the Foundation’s Jewish philanthropic interests,” Grinspoon said.
Since its inception in 1993, the Foundation has given over $120 million in philanthropic support of Jewish programs. The Foundation is a leader in leveraged philanthropy, whereby its investment in communities through charitable grants are matched by individual gifts in the community. One example, the Foundation’s support of over $12 million to Jewish summer camps via its JCamp180 program leveraged an additional $72 million in capital gifts, and an additional $60 million in legacy gifts from individuals.
“What I love about Harold’s vision is that it so clearly illustrates the power of philanthropy at so many levels,” Conn said. “People of any means can make a difference in how they choose to invest their resources, and together we have the power to change the world.”