Leah Kral is an expert facilitator and author who helps nonprofits innovate and further social change.
Kral became intrigued by the question of how teams innovate during her early career in the for-profit world in industrialized northeast Ohio. Here, she worked alongside engineers, quality systems gurus and industrial designers who were talented at solving complex problems to meet the needs of consumers. Bottom-up empowerment always resulted in better products, happy customers and fulfilled team members. This environment exposed her to expert management ideas and philosophy in practice, as managers prevented bottlenecks, smoothed over operations and empowered front-line workers to solve problems.
Afterwards, when Kral joined the U.S. Peace Corps for a two-year volunteer service in Jamaica, she witnessed immense social needs firsthand and was deeply inspired by the commitment and dedication of Jamaicans working to make a difference. But at the same time she observed how, despite the best of intentions and immense care, charitable organizations can sometimes have barn-size blind spots or even do more harm than good. These experiences made an impression on Kral, as she focused her graduate thesis on these issues.
Currently, Kral is senior director of strategy and innovation at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, the home of heterodox thinkers and economists who work to discover what aspects of institutions and culture help societies prosper. She provides tailored workshops and consulting to internal teams and to a network of nonprofit partners across the country. For decades, she has been helping teams to break out of the busy daily routine and draw out their best creative thinking. She helps teams to design pilots, program strategies and meaningful evaluation approaches, leading to better outcomes and more compelling stories for supporters. She published a book on nonprofit innovation with Wiley (December 2022). She has a passion for helping altruistic organizations achieve their missions and is an active volunteer in her community.
Kral holds a master of arts in public policy from Duquesne University and a bachelor of arts in English literature from the University of Central Oklahoma. She is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (Jamaica 2002-2004), and is an active volunteer in her community. She lives in northern Virginia with her husband, Richard.