Jane Leonard has been president of Growth & Justice since 2018. Jane is a widely respected Minnesota policy expert with more than three decades experience in philanthropy and community development. Leonard held a wide variety of leadership positions in community development for the State of Minnesota (she has served under DFL, Republican, and Independence Party governors). She has been instrumental throughout her career in helping communities and businesses throughout the state -- with particular expertise in Greater Minnesota -- to realize their potential through public and private investment in human capital, technology, and physical infrastructure.
Jane currently also serves as a community faculty member at Metropolitan State University, where she has been named three years in a row to the President’ Circle of Engagement, a special distinction for faculty who demonstrate exemplary leadership in social transformation and community engagement with their students, further strengthening Metro State as a beacon for educational, economic, and racial equity.
Among other awards, Leonard has received: the 1987 Governor’s Award for Outstanding Work in Community Development; the 2004 U.S. Small Business Administration Advocate of the Year Champion Award (for Minnesota and the Midwest region); the University of Minnesota Alumni of Notable Achievement (in 2006); two Distinguished Service awards from the Community Development Society, in 1997 & 2013, (where she is a past-president and current co-chair of the CDS Scholarship Committee), and a 2017 Achievement Award from the Minnesota Department of Employment & Economic Development.
Jane has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and science communication from the University of Maryland and a master’s degree in mass communications from the University of Minnesota.