Education: Bachelor of Arts, University of Massachusetts, Amherst; Master of Social Work, Yeshiva University; Ph.D., Tulane School of Social Work
Nonprofit: Kingsley House
Serendipity shined on Boston native Keith Liederman when in 1994, his wife, Luanne LeBlanc, was offered a job in New Orleans. LeBlanc is from Golden Meadow and it provided an opportunity to be closer to family.
Liederman asked his father, David Liederman, who was the CEO of Child Welfare League of America (CWLA), if there were any member organizations in New Orleans.
“It just so happened that Kingsley House was a CWLA member and he had recently met my predecessor, Michael Moreau,” said Keith. “Even more serendipitous, Kingsley House was hiring for a program director for family counseling services, a position that was almost identical to the work I was doing in Tampa.”
Keith had also been accepted by the Tulane School of Social Work (TSSW) to pursue a Ph.D and his first day at Tulane and Kingsley House took place on the same day, July 6, 1994.
“During both of those orientation sessions, much ado was made about the long-time partnership between both organizations and the fact that TSSW, the fifth oldest school of social work in the nation, actually began at Kingsley House,” he said.
Another legacy is addressing is that of namesake, Charles Kingsley, an English clergyman, author and social reformer: It was discovered he published writings and sermons completely inconsistent with the core values and mission of the organization. Keith, the Kingsley House board and leadership team are in the process of renaming the institution, to be announced later this year.
How many years with the organization?
27 years. This is my third position with Kingsley House. I began in 1994 as a program director for our counseling services, was promoted to associate director for administration in 1997, and then CEO in 2003.
Tell us what your organization does:
Kingsley House’s mission is to educate children, strengthen families and build community. We fulfill our mission by offering comprehensive, nationally and state accredited programs and services that help set the whole family up for success — from early learning services and workforce development to adult daycare and community and supportive services.
Last year alone, Kingsley House served more than 8,000.
For a more complete list of what the organization does, go to kingsleyhouse.org/what-we-offer/
What has been the biggest – or most important – accomplishment (s) that have happened while you have been at the organization?
Major accomplishments during my tenure include:
- Operating budget growth from $4 million to $16 million with staff increase from 90 to more than 200.
- Strategic expansion of the agency’s core programs and successful administrative restructuring to manage our growth.
- Tripled number of pre-school aged children to become one of Louisiana’s largest Head Start grantees.
- Opened first Educare School in the Deep South.
- Became one of Louisiana’s first Early Head Start/Child Care Partnerships grantees.
- Doubled capacity of Adult Day Health Care to become the largest licensed ADHC facility in the State.
- Increased unrestricted support by 800% to nearly $750,000 annually.
- Completed a $12.5 million capital campaign, property acquisition and construction of 25,000-square-foot Patrick F. Taylor Campus facility.
- Formed the Kingsley Foundation, supporting growth, innovation and long-term sustainability of the agency.
- Awarded expedited reaccreditation by the Council on Accreditation, the largest accrediting body for social and human services in the world.
What is something about your organization that people most likely do not know about?
- Kingsley House was the first traditionally white-serving social service agency in New Orleans to integrate children and youth recreational services in the 1940s, in partnership with a local trade union. In 1957, we also opened one of the city’s first two integrated public swimming pools.
- Kingsley House was the original home of the Tulane University School of Social Work in the 1920s. Social work in Louisiana and the Deep South was launched as a profession here at Kingsley House.
- Kingsley House founded the first summer camp in Louisiana, the first playground in New Orleans and the first structured recreation and academic activities for children and youth in the city, starting in the early 1900s.
- Louisiana’s Lighthouse for the Blind has its origins here at Kingsley House. We started the state’s first occupational training for the sight impaired in the early 1900s.
- Kingsley House has always been looked to by many nationwide as a model for how strong and committed nonprofit volunteer board leadership can work in tandem with highly professional and equally dedicated staff to effectively partner with the community and program participants in order to achieve truly transformative results.
Is there a person (or mentor) that inspired you? If so, how?
Yes, but not just one person. Starting with my parents, Toby and David Liederman. Both provided lifelong civic and community leadership and involvement on the local, state and national levels, which helped guide my own personal and professional pursuits.
My wife Luanne LeBlanc accomplished unprecedented achievements throughout her professional career in Fortune 500 companies and helped me develop my own public persona and engagement skills that have served me well throughout my career. She has also been an amazing thought partner, as has our equally remarkable daughter, Camille. They both continue to show me, by their own example, how to never give up on what I believe in and provide me with their unfailing encouragement to constantly strive to positively impact our world.
Is there a book, movie and/or moment (s) that changed your life?
Three books immediately come to mind that I read in the early 1980s while in college: “Giant Steps” by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” by Robert M. Persig and “The Autobiography of Malcolm X.”
All provide outstanding illustrations of perseverance in the face of adversity, finding mentors to help us navigate life’s challenges, and uncovering our inner compass and balance to determine who we are to be in this world.
What are you reading now?
“On Tyranny” by Timothy D. Snyder.
What is your perfect night out in New Orleans?
Dinner at Pêche with my wife, joined by family members and/or good friends, either right before or after enjoying a wonderful show at the Saenger Theatre and/or live music at any of our city’s fabulous venues.
To be a major philanthropist supporting extraordinary organizations here in New Orleans and throughout our state, nation and world! Oh yeah, and also to learn how to play guitar, write songs and sing like James Taylor!