“I call it the hidden jewel, it’s amazing. I love New Bedford and the SouthCoast region during the short time I’ve been here.”

Those are the words of Leonard Lee, the new President and CEO of the SouthCoast Community Foundation.

Lee said he sought the position because he felt it was perfect for his experience and background. He has an extensive background in the non-profit world, working for agencies in the Greater Boston area as well as working for state government.

Lee stopped by Townsquare Sunday this week to discuss some early observations and plans for the future.

“I have a love of people, and the one thing I noticed about New Bedford and the region is its love of people and community, and the rich history of this region,” he said.

Lee said the SouthCoast Community Foundation is not about him, that he’s just the facilitator for change, so he’s been out talking with many people about their concerns.

Since 1995, the Community Foundation has distributed more than $50 million to non-profits and other organizations. Former CEO John Vasconcellos retired in December and Lee admits he will have some very big shoes to fill.

“John did an amazing job. I’m exited about continuing that legacy and taking it to its next level,” Lee said.

As for the future, Lee says it is really about building more relationships and finding out more about the needs in the community, and keeping the organization’s finger on the pulse of what’s needed. The current priorities of the organization however, will not change.

“Currently, it’s arts and culture, education and economic insecurity, and it’s going to stay that way for awhile because that hits a lot of different areas,” Lee said.

Lee describes himself as a 24/7 fundraiser.

“It’s really about educating people. I call it the TMI moment: touch, move and inspire folks to understand the importance of the Community Foundation to help bring about change and help people,” he said. “We’re all in this together.”

The complete interview with Leonard Lee can be heard here:

Townsquare Sunday is a weekly public affairs program heard every Sunday morning at 6 and 11 a.m. on 1420 AM and 99.5 FM.

The program highlights individuals and organizations seeking to make Greater New Bedford a better place to live and work.

If you would like your organization featured on Townsquare Sunday, please e-mail the host at [email protected].

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