Jesse Leon

Senior Program Officer

Jesse’s passion for health equity is personal. Raised in the inner city along the California-Mexico border, he intimately knows the impacts of poor health in urban areas. As a child, he lived with asthma while watching his family struggle with poverty, illness and access to health care. His life since then has been mobilized by those experiences – all of which inform his work, his philosophy and his drive to connect with people with empathy and authenticity.

At the Foundation since September 2017, Jesse has more than 20 years of experience in philanthropy and international health issues including HIV, housing and public-private partnerships. He came to the Foundation from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), where he managed multi-million dollar grants for redevelopment across the U.S. to create healthy, mixed-income neighborhoods in urban, rural and border communities. Prior to his work at HUD, Jesse served as the Vice President for Global Philanthropy and Community Relations at JPMorgan Chase in Miami. He was also a Vice President of Real Estate Development at Bank of America Merrill Lynch where he successfully built over $1 billion in mixed-income housing from site selection to build out, stabilization and disposition of assets. Prior to Bank of America, Jesse was a program manager at the Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities where he managed demonstrations on equitable development across the U.S.

Jesse is a native San Diegan, identifies as a Miamian, and is now proud to be a Coloradan. In his new home state, he loves to be on the move and connecting with his community, whether that’s walking along the Cherry Creek trail (usually while on the phone with his mom, a treasured part of his day), salsa dancing, writing, people-watching in coffee shops, hiking or practicing Tai Chi. For Jesse, life is good when all of these things are in reach. And his life (and his personal story) is a daily reminder of the purpose of his work: bringing health in reach for all Coloradans.


Associates Degree – San Diego City College

BA in American Studies; Emphasis on Social Policy and Social Movements – University of California, Berkeley

Master in Public Policy – Kennedy School, Harvard University

Fellowship at the Center for Urban Redevelopment Excellence – University of Pennsylvania

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“Philanthropy is my work because it is the perfect place to create community partnerships to collectively address cross-sector challenges and improve the lives of people, regardless of racial and income backgrounds.”
Jesse Leon