About Us


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 strategic direction as Leadership Columbus embarks on a new chapter. Shannon plans to build on Leadership Columbus and the Signature Program’s strong legacy while adding programs that further the mission to ‘develop, connect and inspire diverse leaders who serve as catalysts in building a healthy and vibrant community.’ Her favorite part of leadership is working with a team and helping them achieve beyond what they thought possible for themselves.

Previously, Shannon served as the Executive Director of Rela for the past 5 years. She helped transition the organization from a local chapter of a national organization (The Gathering Columbus) to one focused on the learning and development needs of Central Ohio professionals.  In that time, Lee created over a dozen leadership experiences, including workshops, intensives, coaching programs, and a certification program. Additionally, Shannon wrote Servant Leader Mindset, and 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 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 is passionate about helping nonprofit organizations receive the same best-in-class leadership development experiences as the for-profit community.

Shannon frequently speaks to and trains a wide range of audiences on mindfulness and intentionality at work, servant leadership as a management style and mindset, the CARE to Lead model, and more.

Lee is a Columbus native and graduate of The Ohio State University with a BS in Education. She resides in Westerville with her husband, Kristofer, and their two dogs, Sammie and Gunner. Together, Shannon and Kris have three adult children, Jaren, Kaylee, and Nia.

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.

Collin Ries, Program & Marketing Manager

Collin Ries serves as the Program & Marketing Manager for Leadership Columbus. He manages Leadership Columbus’s marketing and social media presence, as well as providing programming and administrative support for the Leadership Columbus team. He is also the staff lead on the newly launched Nonprofit Board Governance Training.

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 in various capacities at the CityMusic Cleveland Chamber Orchestra, Ohio Environmental Council and The Ohio State University.

A Columbus native, Collin holds a Bachelor’s in Evolution and Ecology from The Ohio State University and a Master’s in Nonprofit Administration from John Carroll University. He is also a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. 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.