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July 25, 2016 40 Under Forty 2016

Kathryn Gonnerman

Kathryn Gonnerman Kathryn Gonnerman
Kathryn Gonnerman sitting outside reSET, a nonprofit incubator for social entrepreneurs where Gonnerman is a member.
Kathryn Gonnerman promoting a Foundation program on Rose Sunday at Elizabeth Park in West Hartford, complete with roses painted on her face.

Age: 36

Company: Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Hartford

Title: Director, Center for Innovative Philanthropy

Town Where I Live: Avon

Town Where I Work: West Hartford

College: Yale University


What do you do and what are your goals in your current job? Philanthropy is more than a monetary exchange between donors and nonprofits. At its best, philanthropy unites donors and nonprofits in pursuit of positive impact and strong communities. The Center for Innovative Philanthropy is a springboard for those efforts, strengthening nonprofits, increasing access to data, and introducing donors to philanthropic approaches.

What are your goals for your community involvement? I consider myself a facilitator for communities to create the change they envision. So many organizations make positive social change on a daily basis through deep expertise and determination. I hope that my involvement helps multiple organizations achieve success, magnifies their impact and connects them with others who can help.

What's your biggest passion? My passion is creating connections through communication. It gets expressed in various ways: speaking other languages, designing materials for nonprofits, inspiring readers through fiction, or mentoring others to communicate well.

What are your future aspirations? Personally, I dream of publishing a novel. Professionally, I'd like to see more nonprofit organizations that are solid and sustainable, can take good care of staff as well as beneficiaries, and aren't hamstrung by unrealistic expectations of overhead costs. Eventually, I hope to lead an arts, leadership or philanthropic organization to its next phase of meaningful social change.

What role can young leaders play in shaping Hartford's future? Leadership is about seeing the world through a lens of curiosity and taking action – even if it's incremental – to change what needs changing. We don't need to wait for someone else to pass the baton of leadership – we are presented with opportunities to lead by example every day.

List four reasons why you deserve to be a 40 Under Forty:

  1. Founded the Center for Innovative Philanthropy, a new resource to strengthen philanthropy in Hartford's Jewish community.
  2. Volunteered with United Way, Leadership Greater Hartford, reSET, and others.
  3. Engaged in Hartford's terrific creative scene through chamber singing with the Hartt School, storytelling with Speak Up, writing with the Mark Twain House.
  4. Live every day with a mind to strengthening leadership, providing mentorship and modeling collaboration for community benefit.

Time Tested:

What personal possession in your life has withstood the test of time? Our 2001 Honda Accord with nearly 250,000 miles

What hobby did you develop at a young age that you still enjoy today? Writing

Twenty years ago, what did you envision as your future profession? Teacher

Who do you consider your mentor? Michael Johnston, CEO, Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Hartford

See the complete list of Forty Under 40 Winners for 2016! 

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