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Meet Kathleen Odne – CAFB’s Interim Executive Director

July 18, 2019

CAFB is tremendously thankful to Interim Executive Director Kathleen Odne for her leadership! Learn more about her in this Q+A.

Tell me about your life.

Born in Chicago, been in CA for almost 40 years. Undergraduate degree in Political Science from the University of Illinois, Master’s from Indiana University. Married and a proud mother of three sons – all grown up, two are married, one 2-year-old granddaughter. Have had the same great husband for 40 years too!

How did you get involved in the philanthropic and nonprofit sector?

I had taken a few years out of the paid workforce when my boys were small and answered an ad in the newspaper to help Margaret Lesher run a small private foundation. I managed the Dean & Margaret Lesher Foundation for the next 23 years – growing the foundation from $16M to $90M and making $5M worth of grants annually to nonprofits in Contra Costa County. 

What’s a surprising skill of yours?

I have a green thumb and love gardening – my roses this spring were pretty spectacular. 

Which skill or talent would you most like to have?

I wish I was a better dancer – my husband loves to dance and I’m pretty clumsy.

What has surprised you or inspired your work over the course of your career?

I am continually inspired by the people in the nonprofit community – they are so committed and passionate about their work. I’m in awe of their persistence and unwavering energy to preserve and strengthen the social safety net and make our world a better place for all.

What are your proudest accomplishments?

Apart from my wonderful sons, I am proud that in addition to being a working mom, I have always been a community volunteer. At the moment, I’m serving on three nonprofit boards – Walnut Creek Library Foundation, John Muir Health and the Lesher Foundation.

Who are your heroes?

Marion Wright Edelman, Jane Goodall, Eleanor Roosevelt, Malala Yousafzai, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. 

What’s your perfect meal?

Cracked crab, an artichoke, a big salad with baby shrimp and a baguette – and a great bottle of wine, of course!

What’s your favorite dish/meal to cook?

I make an awesome cioppino.

What is your vision for the future of food equity in California and beyond?

There is plenty of food – connecting it with the people who need it is the great challenge of our work.  My vision is that every person and community have access to healthy, nutritious and delicious food at all times.

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