(Saint Paul, MN – Sept. 9, 2010) — The Bush Foundation welcomed Jane Leonard to its ranks effective Aug. 30. She joined in a manager role, working on the redesign of public services to ensure the future vitality of communities across Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota.

Leonard has varied and extensive experience in rural community and economic development, policy development, collaborative efforts, and how information and communication technologies can expand socioeconomic opportunities for small communities and the people in them.

To pursue this position with the Foundation, she departed a leadership role at Minnesota Rural Partners, Inc., an organization focused on rural urban connections that help people and places thrive in the 21st century. Her learning from this work dovetails well with the Foundation’s exploration of the “new normal,” a set of demographic and economic conditions that challenge the future vitality of the region’s people and communities.

Bush Foundation Vice President Pamela Wheelock said, “As we embark on this new direction of public services redesign we are fortunate to have Jane on our team. She is a creative and collaborative person who will be a great asset to the communities the Foundation serves.”

Leonard’s other work has included positions as executive director of the Minnesota Sesquicentennial Commission, manager on the Minneapolis Youth Coordinating Board, and leadership positions in Minnesota state government, including the Department of Administration, the Office of Technology and the Department of Trade and Economic Development. She has also worked in the private sector for several Minnesota-based companies; as an entrepreneur in the early 2000s, she started her own business as well.

Leonard said, “I share the Foundation’s belief that courageous leadership applied to the redesign of public services can help communities solve their tough problems. I look forward to helping the Foundation partner with others in these three states to spark new ideas, new leaders and re-imagined public services that, in partnership with efforts across all sectors, will bring continued vitality to our communities and our region.”

Leonard is a past-president of the international Community Development Society and past recipient of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Regional Advocate of the Year award. In 2006, she was named alumna of notable achievement by the University of Minnesota for her work in entrepreneurship, community technology and rural development. Leonard holds a master’s in communications from the University of Minnesota and BS in journalism from the University of Maryland.

The Bush Foundation was established in 1953 by 3M executive Archibald Bush and his wife, Edyth. The Foundation strives to be a catalyst to shape vibrant communities in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and the 23 Native nations that share the same geography, by investing in courageous and effective leadership that significantly strengthens and improves the well-being of people in these areas.

Since 2008, the Bush Foundation has been pursuing its Goals for a Decade—to develop courageous leaders and engage entire communities in solving problems, to increase education achievement and to support the self-determination of Native nations. (For more information about Goals for a Decade, visit www.bushfoundation.org.)