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Palestinian American first to helm a US philanthropic organization of its size

Leena Barakat, with her daughter Maya, at the 2018 Women Donors Network Conference in Seattle.
Women Donors Network
Leena Barakat at the 2018 Women Donors Network Conference in Seattle.

On September 6th, Leena Barakat will take over as president and CEO of Women Donors Network.

The San Francisco-based nonprofit's board of directors chose her to oversee the day-to-day operations of its philanthropic organization, which has been pursuing its vision of an equitable society for all since it was formed in 2003. The 33-year-old Barakat will become the first Palestinian American, and the youngest, CEO of a U.S. nonprofit this size.

Women Donors Network has more than 250 members across 32 states and provided nearly 20 million dollars in funding last year to social justice organizations, the majority of them Black, Indigenous, and people of color-led.

A board member at Women Donors Network for the past five years, Barakat is poised to continue growing the nonprofit’s grantmaking work, with an emphasis on funding work supporting and led by historically marginalized communities – including women, people of color, immigrants, low-income communities, and people across sexual orientations and gender identities.

Raphael Cohen was part of KALW's Summer Journalism Training Program in 2022. He produces news spots and work for Crosscurrents.