Sally Grimes Succeeds Brian Leshner as Next Executive Director

As of July 1, 2021, Sally Grimes has assumed the role of Executive Director of Activities Beyond the Classroom (ABC).

Grimes has been with the organization since 2017 as the Director of Advancement. She brings hardened experience with her, having previously been the Executive Director of the Outdoor Industries Women’s Coalition and of the Winter Wildlands Alliance. Her transition into the role of Executive Director had been approved by ABC’s board nearly a year ago, which has allowed time for Grimes to craft a vision for where she’d like to take ABC in the coming years.

Left to right: Richard Friedman (Board Chair), Brian Leshner, and Dave Dierker (former CPS Althletic Director)

Grimes succeeds Brian Leshner, who served as the organization’s Executive Director for 17 years. Leshner leaves behind a legacy of leadership and generosity. During his time as Executive Director, ABC has grown to support over 50 Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS), providing over 200 programs and activities, and impacting over 15,000 students every year. ABC has also been the fiscal agent to over 100 donor-directed funds, totaling over $800,000 in financial support to over 15,000 CPS students.

“Brian has never been the kind of person to say, ‘we can’t help with that,’” said Rachel Stallings, Deputy Director at ABC. “If a school or community had an idea and asked for help, Brian found a way to make it happen. That search for solutions and collaborations will endure, thanks to Brian’s hard work.”

Leshner will be taking a sabbatical before rejoining the organization as the new Director of Special Initiatives. “After 17 years of being on call, I’m ready to take a short break,” Leshner said, “but I’m not done yet. I’m excited to return to ABC and use my skills in different ways, while [Sally] takes the reins.”

“Whether a child lives in poverty or not—and 80% of our CPS students do live in poverty—they should have the opportunity to try different activities and find the ones that ignite their fire, instilling skills and a passion that will last throughout their life,” Grimes said.

Grimes has already begun creating a strategy and plan for the next stage of ABC’s growth, including building a leadership team and looking at long-term organizational plans and opportunities. “What’s beautiful is that Sally has a vision for where ABC is going, but that vision was not made in a silo,” said Sophia Scott, Director of Operations and member of the new leadership team. “That vision has been informed by CPS students and parents, by CPS teachers and staff, by ABC staff, and by organizations like ours across the world. A vision like that, made by and for the community, is one we can all get onboard with.”