A Letter of Gratitude from Gwen 

Dear Friends,

I am reaching out to share news regarding my journey with Leadership Rochester. After eight enriching years with the organization, including six years serving as the Executive Director, I find myself reflecting on the incredible accomplishments we’ve achieved together. It has been a rewarding and transformative experience, and I am genuinely thrilled about the promising future that lies ahead for Leadership Rochester.

In the upcoming year, we are set to introduce new programs, extending our reach to even more individuals within our community. The invaluable contributions of our dedicated alumni, community leaders, and hardworking staff will remain fundamental in fostering connections and fortifying the foundations of this remarkable organization.

With a mix of excitement, reflection, and deep gratitude, I am announcing my departure from Leadership Rochester in mid-February. As we look forward, the coming year holds promises of fresh and exciting initiatives designed to cater to new audiences in our community. I am eager to witness the continued growth and positive community impact that awaits.

As a devoted LR alum and community builder, I am committed to ensuring a seamless transition for Leadership Rochester. I will stay connected in a consulting capacity, helping to ensure our current classes finish strong and facilitating continuity for the next Executive Director. I am genuinely excited to welcome and support the new leader as they step into this role.

I extend my heartfelt gratitude to our incredible alumni volunteers and community partners whose support has been instrumental in shaping and strengthening our programs. It’s truly been the privilege of a lifetime to witness the outstanding contributions of individuals dedicated to enhancing our community in unique and very impactful ways. Leadership Rochester brings together the best of the best, people who share one thing in common: to make our community strong.  What better job can there be than to spend one’s time with difference makers, community builders, people focused on doing good?  I’ve absolutely loved this work. 

The vibrancy, strength, and experience of our Board of Directors have been the cornerstones of Leadership Rochester’s success. This dedicated board will thoughtfully guide the organization into its next phase of growth.

To all those who have supported and strengthened Leadership Rochester, I extend my sincere thanks. I am optimistic that our paths will continue to cross, and I anticipate announcing my next professional endeavor in February. Meanwhile, my focus remains on ensuring the success of our current signature class and envisioning the bright future that lies ahead for Leadership Rochester.

I invite you to join me in looking forward with excitement for Leadership Rochester. Please help spread the word as we embark on the search for the next Executive Director. 

With Sincere Thanks,

Gwen Van Laeken
Executive Director, Leadership Rochester (2015 Alumna)

Giving Thanks and Announcing Search

With a sense of gratitude and reflection, the Leadership Rochester Board of Directors has accepted Gwen’s letter of resignation effective 2/13.  Over the past 8 years, Gwen has worked diligently and with passion to move Leadership Rochester forward.  Through challenging times and a global pandemic, Leadership Rochester was needed more than ever as a safe space to address community issues, bring leaders together and work to move the needle.  Gwen’s leadership made this possible.  We are grateful for her hard work and dedication and we are excited for the next chapter of LR.  We look forward to working together with the staff and volunteers to make this a smooth transition for all.  Thank you for your support and guidance as we navigate this change.

The job posting for the role of Executive Director of Leadership Rochester is now live on our website, please feel free share this opportunity to anyone you think may be a good fit for this position.  The board will begin accepting applications immediately and review resumes on a rolling basis.  Please reach out to search@leadershiprochester.org with any questions.


Lauren Gallina Payne, Board Chair