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Jennifer R. Leonard

Jen LeonardFellow
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Jennifer R. Leonard is a fellow with the Center for Community Progress. Previously, she served as the Vice President and Director of National Leadership and Education for Community Progress where she oversaw a range of activities to help mobilize cross-jurisdiction problem solving, learning, and collaboration.


She is one of the founders of Community Progress, previously directing the National Vacant Properties Campaign at Smart Growth America. As the Campaign’s director, Jennifer helped reframe the way the public viewed the revitalization potential of vacant and abandoned properties, and spearheaded the Campaign’s activities, which included expanding a national network of practitioners and experts, developing and participating in the capacity building and technical assistance efforts, launching the Reclaiming Vacant Properties conference, and advocating for federal policies to support vacant property reclamation. Jennifer has worked in numerous communities around the country.


Prior to joining the Campaign, Jennifer was the housing project manager for People’s Homesteading Group, a community development corporation in Baltimore, where she helped create public and private partnerships for using property reclamation tools to revitalize the Barclay-Greenmount neighborhood. She also managed the corporation’s grant and loan efforts, raising several million dollars for the CDC’s investments into the neighborhood. Jennifer’s early work life at the Children’s Defense Fund catalyzed her commitment to being an active partner for positive change in communities. Jennifer holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Arizona and a Master of City and Regional Planning degree from the University of Pennsylvania. In 2013 she completed the NeighborWorks Achieving Excellence in Community Development program in conjunction with the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.