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Valerie F. Leonard is an expert in community and organizational development with a mission to strengthen the capacity of organizations to make a positive impact on the communities they serve through technical assistance, specialized workshops and organizational development. Her clientele is diverse, and includes institutions, emerging organizations, small businesses and churches.
Valerie recently launched Nonprofit Utopia, LLC. Nonprofit Utopia is a community of emerging nonprofit leaders that provides a safe environment in which members can innovate, speak candidly about the issues and concerns they face daily, and share ideas and resources.
Valerie is the host of Nonprofit Utopia blog radio talk show, f.ka. Nonprofit "U", an online forum where nonprofit stakeholders can discuss the latest developments in the sector and increase their capacity to serve their clients and build sustainable communities. Topics include nonprofit management, community development, capacity building and organizational development. Nonprofit Utopia is downloaded in 90 countries around the world and is top ranked in BlogTalkRadio’s non-profit category. The show is also among Player FM’s Top 36 Nonprofit Podcasts for 2018.
Valerie has considerable experience in the public, private and nonprofit sectors. Prior to starting her consulting practice, she spearheaded the spin-off of a community-based grant making organization from a family foundation and became its founding executive director; managed site planning and development activities for Jewel- Osco stores in Chicago and the six collar counties; coordinated financing in excess of $100 million for construction, renovation and major capital equipment purchases for the Mount Sinai Health System; and developed marketing strategies for New York City’s $6 billion general obligation bond program.
Valerie is a member of the adjunct faculty of the University of Illinois’ Certificate in Nonprofit Management Program, where she has taught courses in operations management, strategic management, finance, program design and evaluation and proposal writing for government grants. Valerie is also an adjunct instructor at Roosevelt University's Heller College of Business, teaching new ventures and social entrepreneurship.
Valerie holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Spelman College and a Master of Management with concentrations in finance and marketing from the Northwestern University Kellogg Graduate School of Management. She is the former Vice Chair of the Cook County Commission on Social Innovation’s Social Capital Committee.
1. The importance of nonprofit disclosure and how transparency improves fundraising
2. Nonprofit compliance
3. How to start a nonprofit business
4. How to build a sustainable nonprofit organization
5. Pointers on writing grant proposals that get funded
6. Questions you need to ask before starting a nonprofit organization
7. Perils of collaboration
8. Tax Increment Financing (TIFs), what they are, and my experiences working with communities to advocate for policies that will benefit community residents
9. Why nonprofits should care about the upcoming Census and Redistricting process
10. How to design nonprofit programs
11. How to conduct program evaluation
12. How to develop an effective board of directors
13. How to identify organizational red flags by looking at a Form 990
14. 13 reasons the IRS turns down applications for tax-exempt status
15. Pros and cons of fiscal sponsorship
16. Managing the negative impacts of gentrification
17. How to conduct a community needs assessment
18. How to write a compelling case for support
19. Trends in nonprofit capacity building
20. How to assess your organizational capacity
21. Community benefits agreements versus redevelopment agreements
22. The elements of a strong memorandum of understanding
23. IRS rules on lobbying and political involvement
24. How to develop a business canvas
25. How to identify your business or organization's value proposition
26. How to assess the feasibility of your business idea or new program idea
1. What is nonprofit capacity building, and who cares?
2. What are some of the red flags we should look for on an organization's Form 990?
3. What are some of the main reasons the IRS turns down applications for tax-exemption?
4. What are some of the ways nonprofit organizations can help their clients and communities minimize the negative impacts of gentrification?
5. How can local community stakeholders make TIFs work for them?
6. How can nonprofit organizations encourage civic engagement without violating IRS rules on lobbying and political engagement?
7. What are the elements of a strong case for support?
8. How can Form 990 be used for fundraising and marketing purposes?
9. What are some strategies that can be used to engage board members in fundraising?
10. How does the Nonprofit Utopia community help to develop the next generation of ethical nonprofit leaders?
Nonprofit Utopia, f.k.a. Nonprofit "U"
Do Good Better Consulting Podcast
MissMia Live podcast