Meet Leanne! Q&A with the Trust’s new Director of Programs

Just two weeks into her job, Director of Programs Leanne Loya has already hit the ground running. She will be even busier in the coming weeks as the Trust launches its spring grant cycle.

Before the flurry of spring grant cycle activities begins, we wanted to sit down with Leanne for a little Q&A to learn more about her and introduce her to our nonprofit community.

Q: Can you share a brief overview of your professional background and how it led you to this position at the Trust?

A: I started my professional background as a youth worker at a residential treatment facility which inspired me to get my master’s in counseling at UW. When I graduated, I accepted the position of Student Success Counselor at Casper College where I worked for the next 12.5 years. While at Casper College I served as the Director of Student Success, the Director of Recruitment & Retention, and prior to my departure, I was leading strategic enrollment management. My work at the college was incredibly fulfilling and ultimately, I decided to make a change that would allow me to continue doing work I love while also providing me more time with family. I was drawn to the position of Program Director because it affords me the opportunity to continue serving others, allows me to be a part of systemic change, and the culture at the Trust embraces my role as a mother allowing me flexibility when I need it.

Q: Are there any specific issues that you’ve seen in the community that spurred your interest in becoming involved in finding solutions?

A: I wouldn’t say there was any one issue in particular that spurred my interest; rather the focus the Trust has on getting to the root cause of societal issues and helping find solutions. Over my professional career, I’ve worked with a lot of children and adults who have “fallen through the cracks” or certain aspects of the system have set them up to fail. Really digging in and finding out what our community needs to do on this front is something that I feel passionate about and am excited to be a part of.

Q: A big part of your job involves meeting and collaborating with new people. What is your favorite part of meeting new colleagues and how do you approach these new relationships?

A: I think one of the greatest gifts in life is creating a connection with another human being and sharing in their challenges, growth, and success. I will approach my relationships with new nonprofit colleagues with this intent. I want to know them, understand them, and do what I can to help. The work happening with our local nonprofits is phenomenal and I feel privileged to have the opportunity to work with such amazing people. I’m hopeful that I can be a source of support to the impactful work they are doing in the community.

Q: How have your first few weeks on the job been? Any surprises?

A: I was completely lost in philanthropic jargon during week one! I didn’t feel overwhelmed, as much as, lost. In week two I’ve started to make some connections and feel like I might have some clarity forming. I’ve gotten to meet some of the people in the community and sit in on inspiring meetings where people are actively trying to solve issues within our community. That has been rewarding. The thing I am most surprised about is the amount of support and the level of collaboration the Trust has with community agencies and nonprofits. It is a beautiful thing to see so many people coming together to show their support and commitment to our most vulnerable populations and I’m so proud to be a part of this work.

Q: Beyond your professional life, what are some personal things about yourself that you could share to help people get to know you better?

A: My family comprises of my spouse, a daughter (6 yrs), a son (5 yrs), and a very overweight beagle that has no intent of ever sticking to his low fat diet. I love to read and particularly enjoy a fantasy series when I need to decompress and let the world fall away. I was not raised in Casper but have chosen to stay here because of the relationships I have formed while here. In Casper, I found my people. I have a good sense of humor and am not afraid to make fun of myself, I live on coffee, love learning and growing (Ted Talks are one of my favs), and feel invigorated by a walk outdoors (which I don’t do nearly enough!).

Leanne will serve as the first point of contact for many nonprofit partners who participate in the Trust’s grantmaking and program opportunities. She will also be taking the lead on the Trust’s internship program. She can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at 307-243-2706.