TAMPA, FL – The Franciscan Center has appointed Wendy Leigh as CEO and executive director, after a lengthy search process, and looks forward to a successful future of this wonderful asset to the Tampa Bay community.
Leigh will provide overall leadership to move the Franciscan Center forward to advance its mission: In the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi, we welcome everyone, of all faiths, who
“As part of its strategic planning process, the entire board has been working with the current leadership and team for the past 14 months on a succession plan and embarked on an extensive search. For it to culminate with the hiring of a proven leader like Wendy Leigh for the CEO and executive director of the Franciscan Center is very exciting for all of us,” said Lisa Grattan, The Franciscan Center Board of
Leigh commented, “I am thrilled to be able to join this amazing organization whose mission aligns so perfectly with my spiritual beliefs and philosophy for life. The Franciscan Center is a true gem nestled in the heart of Tampa and I look forward to merging all of my past professional experiences and community support and connections to help to create more visibility and attention for this wonderful organization and all the amazing programs it offers.”
Leigh has had a unique and successful career trajectory: in education, entertainment, the arts, community engagement, marketing, public relations
Leigh was instrumental in launching both the Shimberg Playhouse and the Patel Conservatory from ground-up, totaling more than 20 years of service at the Straz Center. While serving as vice president of Education there, she and her team brought the organization to full accreditation with SACS CASI in 2012, and she spearheaded the Center-wide Diversity Initiative. During that time, she helped to fill the Patel Conservatory with vibrant activities, events and productions, and established partnerships (30 across the area) with worthy local organizations.
Leigh most recently served as director of Development and Community Relations at Hillel Academy and prior to that as the chief development and marketing officer at the University Area Community Development Corporation. Raised a Methodist and later member of Unity Church, Leigh’s spirituality is perfectly aligned with The Franciscan Center’s mission of seeking spiritual growth through a deeper relationship with God in a place of peace, community, healing and joy.
“Wendy Leigh brings great experience, spirit, enthusiasm and energy to this important new role.” Judith Lisi, President, Straz Center chief executive officer and former Franciscan Center board member.
Sister Anne Dougherty, who is retiring in her role as president and CEO as of March 1, will continue to support Franciscan Spirituality Programming and the Post-Trauma Training for the First Responders at the Center.
The Franciscan Center is a Catholic, non- profit, 501(3)(c), private retreat house sponsored by the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany, NY with dedicated laity who are committed in carrying out the mission. Throughout the year team and hosted retreat programs, private and directed retreats, and a place for workshops and meetings. The Center is located on eight acres along the eastern banks of the Hillsborough River. The Center opened its doors in 1970 as a result of the spiritually unique mission. In the Spirit of St. Francis of Assisi, everyone is welcome who seeks spiritual growth, a deeper relationship with God in a place of peace, community, healing and joy.
For more information about the Center, upcoming retreat and events, or booking the venue call (813) 229-2695. Or visit us online at http://www.franciscancentertampa.org/.