Coleen Brighton, the executive director of the Leander Educational Excellence Foundation, has been part of the organization since 2015 and began her new position in May. She spoke with Community Impact about her role, the importance of LEEF in Leander ISD and the initiatives she is working on. This interview has been edited for length, style and clarity.

What are your plans for your new role?

A big part of my vision and goal is to develop stronger relationships within the community, and that is [with] both businesses and families. I believe we can build stronger relationships at our individual campuses, and we haven’t been able to do that with a small staff. With our full team, we’re really going to be able to go out there and ... do a better job of telling our story. A big part of building those relationships and increasing revenue, I believe, is going to come from monthly giving.

What approaches do you take when it comes to fundraising?

I see LEEF as the bridge between LISD and our community. I want to continue building partnerships that are meaningful and impactful for both sides and to bring in funding—but also volunteers, training certification, all the different programs that meet the needs of our students. Not every business has the marketing budget to buy sponsorships or scoreboard ads, but every business, I believe, wants to support our future leaders and the kids in our community. Part of my job is finding a way for every business or family member to get involved with LEEF that works for them.

What is the mission and purpose of LEEF?

We enrich the educational experience. Our goal is to serve all of our students at all of our campuses and bridge the gap for what the district and the campuses need to have the best educational experience.

How is this organization important to Leander ISD?

I think we are hugely important. A lot of people will think of LEEF and education foundations as grant patrol and teaching grants because that’s the most visible thing. That’s a small part of what we do from a funding perspective. ... We raised enough funding that we were able to fund a full-time mental health specialist for three years. LEEF funds six college and career coaches at each of our six high schools, and we have been since 2014. And so those are just two really easy programs to explain that [if] you take LEEF away, you don’t have that anymore.