Sunflower Hill Announces New Executive Director

March 24, 2022

Jen Lenard-Benson brings 25 years of non-profit management experience to organization


The Sunflower Hill Board of Directors announced today that Jen Lenard-Benson has joined the organization as its permanent Executive Director, taking over the role from interim Executive Director, Janet Cohen.

Lenard-Benson brings more than 25 years of non-profit experience to the role, having previously worked for organizations focused on housing and programs for underserved populations. “We’re excited for Jen to bring her development and non-profit management expertise gained from years in the sector to Sunflower Hill,” said Kathy Layman, Sunflower Hill Board President. “Her extensive and increasing responsibilities in fundraising and strategic leadership, coupled with her skill at building relationships with key stakeholders who have a passion for the mission will be an asset to the organization,” said Layman.

“I’m honored to join such a unique and mission-centric non-profit providing much needed housing and programming for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in our community,” said Jen Lenard-Benson, Sunflower Hill Executive Director. “I look forward to partnering with the Board of Directors, staff, donors, volunteers, residents, participants, parents, caregivers, and partners to further the mission and vision of the organization,” said Lenard-Benson.

Lenard-Benson brings extensive experience in strategic planning, fundraising, advocacy, board development, and volunteer recruitment and management, having worked for non-profits in the U.S. and Canada focused on providing housing and integrated services to homeless families, affordable child care for low-income families, and crisis services for women and families affected by domestic violence. Most recently, Lenard-Benson was the Associate Director, Global Engagement and Affinity Programs at the University of Chicago in San Francisco, creating strategic engagement plans for its West Coast and Asia alumni base.

“I look forward to marrying my passion for supporting underserved populations and drawing from my non-profit management experience to expand affordable housing opportunities and supportive programming for people with I/DD,” said Lenard-Benson. Working as an organizational champion to further the mission and vision of the organization, Lenard-Benson will focus on achieving short-term goals while working toward long-term sustainability. “I look forward to championing our next chapter,” said Lenard-Benson.

Lenard-Benson holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology with a minor in Social Work and Gender Studies from Valparaiso University in Indiana and a Certificate in Fund Raising Management from Indiana University, Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

Lenard-Benson will collaborate with Cohen, who assumed the role of interim Executive Director in October 2021, during a brief transition. During her five-month tenure, Cohen oversaw the day-to-day management of the organization and worked to improve operational procedures. Cohen worked closely with staff as well as the Board of Directors to explore opportunities for potential new offerings and advance the next steps of the organization, focusing on key initiatives identified during the organization’s recent strategic planning process. “It was a special opportunity to be involved with such a great organization during its transition and to assist in preparing for its next chapter with this experienced non-profit leader as the incoming Executive Director,” said Cohen.

“Jan’s extensive experience working with non-profits that support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities has been a benefit to our organization,” said Layman. “We’re thankful to her for helping transition the organization in preparation for a new Executive Director,” said Layman.