Jen Lenard-Benson takes on the role as the new executive director at Sunflower Hill, the organization's Board of Directors announced last week.
Lenard-Benson comes with over 25 years of experience in the nonprofit sector and is proficient in strategic planning, fundraising, advocacy and board development, according to the officials with the nonprofit that serves adults with developmental disabilities in the Tri-Valley and beyond.
"I have deep roots in the nonprofit sector and housing for underserved populations and am excited to engage with residents, participants, volunteers, donors, parents, caregivers, partners and the community," Lenard-Benson told the Weekly.
She is taking over the leadership role from Janet Cohen, who served as interim executive director upon the departure of former leader Edie Nehls in October.
"We're excited for Jen to bring her development and nonprofit management expertise gained from years in the sector to Sunflower Hill," said Kathy Layman, president of the Sunflower Hill Board of Directors. "Her extensive and increasing responsibilities in fundraising and strategic leadership, coupled with her skill at building relationships with key stakeholders who have a passion for the mission will be an asset to the organization."
Lenard-Benson moved from northwest Indiana to the Bay Area 11 years ago and has since connected and engaged with the region, including the Tri-Valley area. She brings with her a depth of knowledge working in the nonprofits sectors both in the U.S. and Canada, Sunflower Hill officials said.
In addition, Lenard-Benson is an advocate for affordable child care for low-income families and providing women with crisis services including aiding families affected by domestic violence.
"I look forward to working with staff to implement the organization's strategic priorities, which include co-developing inclusive affordable housing, creating multidisciplinary transition training and independent and interdependent living programs, and creating clear and accessible language about who we are and what we do," she said.
"I'm honored to join such a well-respected and established non-profit and look forward to continuing the vital work of the organization," she added.
Lenard-Benson said she feels honored to join a very respected and established nonprofit organization like the Sunflower Hill.
"As executive director, I look forward to working with the Board of Directors and staff to carry out the mission, vision, and organizational strategic plan, as well as overseeing operations," she said.
Lenard-Benson graduated from Valparaiso University in Indiana with a bachelor's degree in psychology and a minor in social work and gender studies. She is also certified for fundraising management from Indiana University.
Talking about her work at Sunflower Hill, she said she is excited to continue the vision of the organization.
"Working as an organizational champion to further the mission and vision of the organization and will focus on achieving short-term goals while working toward long-term sustainability," Lenard-Benson said. "I look forward to championing our next chapter."