Jun 2023

Get to Know Nicole Rodriguez Leach

Nicole Rodriguez LeachGuided by her commitment to social justice, Nicole Rodriguez Leach has led a career focused on building education sites and systems to foster thriving communities with and for children, youth and families. Since her first job as a camp counselor in high school, she has held positions in K-12 and postsecondary classrooms, in community-based and other nonprofit organizations, and in the private sector. Her professional practice informs her research and college instruction which examines education policy, restorative philanthropy, civic engagement, and justice in public administration and nonprofit management. Nicole strongly promotes the public promise of education equity and justice in a multi-racial democracy.

Prior to her appointment as executive director of Grantmakers for Education (EdFunders), Nicole served as a nonprofit and philanthropic executive advisor with organizations including NYC Fund to End Youth and Family Homelessness, Power 4 Puerto Rico Education, and Center for Racial Justice in Education, where she previously acted as interim executive director. In addition, Nicole taught undergraduate courses at the John Glenn College of Public Affairs at The Ohio State University.

Nicole also held the position of special advisor to Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation & CSR Americas; she was head of education for seven years before, overseeing a grants program focused on education equity as a strategy for community engagement and economic empowerment. At Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation, she served as an internal advisor to employees and organized thought leadership forums to convene nonprofit, public, and private sector stakeholders and researchers on issues of pressing social concern. In this role, she helped strengthen nonprofit organizations at the forefront of the educational equity movement in New York City and across the U.S. and several countries in South and Central America. Nicole began her career in philanthropy with the Stella and Charles Guttman Foundation, where she served as a program officer and oversaw grantmaking in education, health and human services, and disaster response.

Before entering the philanthropic sector, Nicole served as director of admissions and summer institute for The TEAK Fellowship, where she selected intellectually curious and accomplished students from New York City’s public and parochial schools for a comprehensive program that includes placement in the most prestigious high schools in the country. Nicole also worked as an education coordinator at the East Harlem Tutorial Program (EHTP), where she coordinated academic and volunteer programs, and provided extensive technical assistance in curriculum development, program evaluation, and staff training to organizations in New York City and throughout the country. Before her service at EHTP, she was program director of Summerbridge Germantown (now known as Breakthrough of Greater Philadelphia) and held a teaching position at Germantown Friends School. She also consulted with organizations including Girls Preparatory Charter School, Newark Public Schools, Lawyers Alliance for Children, and The Children’s Aid Society.

Nicole is engaged with several organizations through board service. She serves on the board of directors at SchoolHouse Connection and Aprendes Foundation. Previously, she served as a board member to Center for Racial Justice in Education, Grantmakers for Education, Citizens’ Committee for Children, College Access: Research and Action (CARA), among other organizations.

Nicole earned a bachelor’s degree in socio-cultural anthropology from Wesleyan University and a master’s degree in urban policy analysis and management from The New School. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the John Glenn College of Public Affairs at The Ohio State University.