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In Search of the Ideal Nonprofit Community

 Valerie F. Leonard, a local expert in community and organizational development, will be launching the Nonprofit Utopia community in June of this year.  Nonprofit Utopia is a community of emerging nonprofit leaders, designed to provide a safe environment in which members can innovate, speak candidly about the issues and concerns they face on a daily basis, and share ideas and resources.

 “The curated experience is member-driven, and provides unmatched opportunities to bond around special interests and geography. Our members are able to establish deeper relationships and experience a higher level of engagement than they would be able to find on other social media”, Leonard said.  Members can share lessons learned with their peers and industry experts. 

“ I see this as a natural progression of all the work I have been doing in community and organizational development over the years”, Leonard said. “Before I started my consulting practice, I was the founding executive director of the North Lawndale Small Grants Human Development Corporation.  We managed small grant pools and targeted block activities to develop grassroots leadership.  That experience gave me the insights to play an integral role in the development of the infrastructure for North Lawndale’s first comprehensive community planning process since 1958.” Leonard will apply community building skills from the “real world” to creating the ideal online community for nonprofit leaders. 

Leonard is uniquely qualified to lead such an effort.  She is an adjunct instructor for the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Certificate in Nonprofit Management program, where she teaches operations management, program design and evaluation and co-facilitates grant writing workshops. She is also the host of the Nonprofit "U" podcast, which is downloaded in 62 countries and ranked among Player FM’s top 36 nonprofit podcasts of 2018. “These experiences will come in handy as I develop content for the community”, Leonard said.  The Nonprofit Utopia community will provide members access to live and recorded training events and peer learning. 

Nonprofit Utopia will officially launch this June, and Leonard will be making announcements from time to time to keep the community informed.  She has also created a Nonprofit Utopia Facebook page as a “community before the community”. If you are interested in keeping abreast of the latest developments, be sure to sign up for the mailing list at

Keywords: Capacity Building, Leadership, New Business Startup, Nonprofit Utopia, Online Communities, Organizational Development, Valerie F. Leonard

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