Posted on June 7, 2016
The Weissberg Foundation is pleased to announce that Hanh Le has joined the staff as our Executive Director! Hanh is a multi-faceted nonprofit leader with extensive experience in the social sector.
Formerly the chief program officer at Exponent Philanthropy, Hanh brings a depth of knowledge about small and family foundations. She also knows a lot about late 80s/early 90s television. Read on to learn more about the newest member of the Weissberg Foundation team.
Why did you throw your hat in the ring for the ED position at the Weissberg Foundation?
For 8 years at Exponent Philanthropy, I worked to help guide, connect, and champion foundations with few or no staff, philanthropic families, and individual donors. This amazing experience and perspective deepened my appreciation for the power of small foundations to make an outsized impact by being lean, nimble, close to the ground, and rooted in passion.
When I learned about the opportunity to join the Weissberg Foundation, a family foundation leveraging its diversity of assets to advance social justice, I found myself thinking, of course this is where I need to be! The foundation’s deep commitment to social change—a commitment championed by founder Marvin Weissberg and embodied by all board and staff members—as well as its willingness to learn, adapt, collaborate, and take measured risks, is the type of environment in which I thrive and believe is critical for making meaningful change.
What are you looking forward to learning about through this new role?
There is so much to learn, and I’m a geek, so I’m pretty much looking forward to all of it! The focus in my first few weeks has been very internal. Conversations with our board, staff, and advisors, supplemented by lots of reading of historical documents, are giving me a better sense of where the foundation has come from and where it might want to go. That learning will continue and become more informed and nuanced over time.
I am also really looking forward to growing my knowledge about the issue areas and geographic areas in which the foundation invests and might consider investing. Over the next few weeks, I’ll start reaching out more and more to our grantees, partners, and potential collaborators to better understand the landscape in which we’re working. I look forward to having honest conversations about the challenges, opportunities, failures and successes our stakeholders are experiencing, and to thinking about what that means for the foundation.
What conversations are happening in the broader social sector right now that have your attention?
There are so many smart, insightful, and to be honest, tough conversations happening right now. Racism is a common thread—both implicitly and explicitly—through many of these conversations. The Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers’ Putting Racism on the Table learning series has boldly convened funders in the region to learn about the many aspects of racism and how it does and can influence philanthropy. The Weissberg Foundation has participated in this series at both the board and staff level, and it has left us with many questions, resources, and potential next steps to explore.
Where do you call home?
I was born in Saigon, Vietnam; I grew up and my parents still live in Fredericksburg, VA; and since 2003, I’ve lived in Washington, DC. Each of these places and the people from them have had a profound effect on who I am. And they each continue to have a strong hold on me. So, if you hear me saying, “I’m going home,” keep listening for more detail, because I could mean DC, Fredericksburg, or Vietnam!
What are some fun facts about you that might surprise people?
My all-time favorite television show is Golden Girls – those smart, sassy ladies crack me up. I missed having perfect attendance in school by one day, the day I was absent to become naturalized as a U.S. citizen. I was a state champion triple jumper in high school, and as a city-dweller pounding a lot of pavement with my frisky pup Barley, I find my hop-skip-jump skills quite useful on a daily basis. I am passionate about ketchup, the way a 5-year old who is passionate about ketchup would be passionate about ketchup.
If you could distill your life into a Six-Word Memoir®, what would it be?
My voice matters; so does yours.
To learn more about the entire Weissberg Foundation team, check out our staff page!