Shannon Lee, Executive Director
Shannon Lee is the Executive Director at Leadership Columbus with a drive to help current and aspiring leaders achieve their personal and professional aims. Her work at Leadership Columbus includes leading the strategic direction, developing new programs, hiring, developing, and retaining high-performing staff, and fundraising.
Shannon is passionate about expanding Leadership Columbus’ mission and to date has added three major programs as well as ad hoc workshops to Leadership Columbus’ lineup of offerings since starting in January of 2021. Her favorite part of leadership is working with a team and helping them achieve beyond what they thought possible for themselves.
In her career, Lee created over a dozen leadership experiences, including workshops, intensives, coaching programs, and a certification program. Additionally, Shannon wrote Servant Leader Mindset, a book focused on the internal experience of those who wish to embrace the timeless principles of servant leadership. Her book and many of her training programs feature a model for servant leadership she also created called CARE to Lead.
Lee’s concentration in the nonprofit sector has allowed her to work with many other nonprofits through service projects, training, workshops, and coaching. Shannon loves to help nonprofit organizations receive the same best-in-class leadership development experiences as the for-profit community.
Lee is a Columbus native and graduate of The Ohio State University with a BS in Education. Together, Shannon and her husband Kris have three adult children, Jaren, Kaylee, and Nia as well as three dogs, Sammie, Gunner, and Tater.
Karen Hewitt, Associate Director
Karen (Ze/Hir/Hirs and She/Her/Hers) is the Associate Director for Leadership Columbus. A Columbus resident, Karen was born and raised in Cincinnati. Ze holds a Master of Arts in Educational Policy and Leadership from The Ohio State University and a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from St. Francis University (PA).
Karen is committed to doing the work of building connection, belonging, and community. Ze is a non-negotiable stand for the most marginalized and the dignity and value of every human life. Her professional reach is vast and includes competency and expertise in Leadership Development, Anti-Racism Facilitation, Transformative Justice Approaches, Poetry, Writing, Music, Comedy, and overall performance. Karen is seen as a necessary contribution at various community tables and conversations and is both celebrated and respected for her ability to be strategic in navigating difficult and nuanced conversations and barriers in a brave and productive way.
Karen is also a published author, creative, and musician. Ze is a 2020 recipient of the Create Columbus Visionary Award, a 2021 Cohort Poet in Scott Woods’ Rhapsody and Refrain, and an ensemble member in Counterfeit Madison’s Aretha Franklin Tribute; which performed in front of a sold out Lincoln Theatre in February 2020. In 2019, Karen self- published hir first book of poetry “Grounded” and recently released “Fire: Poetic Memoirs of a Movement” in August, 2021.
Karen serves on numerous committees, commissions, and collectives to further advance the work of racial and social justice, and to foster visibility and representation for Black, Queer, Women (presenting), Non-Gender Conforming and Non-Binary individuals and communities. Her work and presence compels others to journey inward, and encourages them to see the world in more expansive and hopeful ways. She is a non-negotiable stand for the most marginalized and the dignity and value of every human life.
Karen is also the co-founder of The Ohio REST Collective. The Ohio REST Collective (Restorative Equity through Sustainable Transformation) was founded to create space for individual and collective restoration.
Kathy Chipps, Development Director
Kathy Chipps (she/her/hers) joins Leadership Columbus as Development Director. She has enjoyed a meaningful, mission-driven career in the nonprofit sector, primarily in fundraising, program development, and leadership. She spent fifteen years dedicated to raising funds for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, serving in local, regional, and national roles. Kathy comes to us most recently from the USO, where she served as a Regional Development Director and Corporate Development Officer. She is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati with a Bachelor of Science in Social Work. “When I’ve been given the opportunity to lead, I’ve strived to do so with compassion, grace and emotional intelligence. I’m excited to bring my fundraising expertise to help Leadership Columbus grow.” In her free time, she enjoys cooking, travelling and refinishing furniture.
Alison Kennedy, NxGen/ExecGen Program Manager
Alison Kennedy (they/them) serves as the Program Manager for NxGen and ExecGen for Leadership Columbus. They have a background in nonprofits and museums, with over a decade of experience in visitor experience and museum strategy for several Columbus institutions. Prior to joining Leadership Columbus, Alison served as Strategic Projects Coordinator for the Ohio History Connection, providing high-level oversight for the organization’s strategic plan and major organizational projects.
Alison is passionate about creating opportunities for trans people in museums. In 2018, they co-founded the Task Force for Transgender Inclusion, a committee of the American Alliance of Museums’ LGBTQ+ Alliance. Under their co-leadership, the Task Force published “Gender Transition and Transgender Inclusion in the Museum Workplace,” a toolkit that set the standard for museum workplace practices for transgender inclusion. Alison has been a speaker at multiple conferences in the museum field, including the American Alliance of Museums Annual Meeting in 2019, the Ohio Museums Association annual conference in 2018 and 2019, and the Ohio Local History Alliance annual meeting in 2022. They currently serve on the Ohio Museums Association Board of Trustees.
In their free time, Alison enjoys visiting museums of all kinds and exploring a variety of fiber arts including knitting, crochet, cross stitch, and most recently blackwork embroidery. Alison also is a competitive horseback rider, and currently shows their lease horse Magic in training level dressage and low-level eventing.
Collin Ries, Program & Marketing Manager
Collin Ries (he/him) serves as the Program & Marketing Manager for Leadership Columbus. He is the staff lead on the Leadership Columbus Signature Program, Nonprofit Board Governance Training, and Great Leaders Workshop Series, as well as providing programming and administrative support for the Leadership Columbus team. He also manages the organization’s marketing and social media presence
Prior to joining the Leadership Columbus Team, Collin served as the Graduate Assistant for the Nonprofit Administration Program at John Carroll University (JCU), working to advance the program’s mission to “develop unapologetic social justice leaders.” He has also worked and interned in various capacities at the CityMusic Cleveland Chamber Orchestra, Ohio Environmental Council and The Ohio State University.
A Columbus native, Collin holds a Master’s in Nonprofit Administration from John Carroll University and a Bachelor’s in Evolution and Ecology from The Ohio State University, as well as Certificate of Nonprofit Board Consulting from BoardSource. Collin was named a 2020 Nonprofit Leader of Tomorrow by the Nonprofit Administration Program at JCU. In his free time, he enjoys birdwatching in Columbus’s Metro Park system and continuing to explore all that Columbus has to offer.
Laddan Shoar, Central Ohio Leadership Academy Program Manager
Laddan Shoar is the Program Manager for the Central Ohio Leadership Academy (COLA) for Leadership Columbus. She has a background in both corporate and non-profit sectors, with 18 years of financial services experience. She is passionate about organizing various community events, fundraising, and outreach opportunities with an emphasis on resource distribution and leveraging networks in order to serve community members of all ages and backgrounds.
Laddan is committed to community connection and social justice, as they pertain to the health and sustainability of society and collective quality of life. She is an enthusiastic collaborator in advancing equity and opportunities for all.
An avid Rotarian and board member serving three community organizations, she also serves on a local DEI Task Force. She is a transformational and emotional intelligence leadership mentor/coach, with a focus on heart-centered leadership.
She is most excited about Leadership Columbus’s adoption of the COLA program and developing the leadership skills of young leaders in Central Ohio, to inspire them to lead with purpose and make a positive impact in their communities through collaboration and teamwork.
Laddan enjoys the arts, traveling, gardening, community service, and spending quality time with family and friends.