Lesley D. Slavitt, Ph.D.

Executive Director

Connect with Lesley

We are eager to build and deepen relationships with individuals, organizations, and networks working together to advance the public good. Reach out to Lesley for exploratory conversations, direct inquiries, and thought partnership.


Lesley D. Slavitt joined the Johnson Center as executive director in April 2023. Through vision and collaboration, she leads our work to bridge research and practice in philanthropy, catalyzing meaningful community impact and systems change.

A seasoned philanthropic leader, Lesley has worked in partnership with community stakeholders throughout her career. Having devised and guided initiatives addressing economic empowerment, arts and culture, pre-K–16 educational success, and disaster relief and recovery, she has an integrative understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing the sector.

Lesley was chief executive officer of Fiat Chrysler’s Foundation, where she also led civic engagement, and spent 10 years at JPMorgan Chase, and legacy companies, advancing its corporate philanthropy and foundation impact. Lesley helped lead COVID-19 response initiatives for the State of Michigan, including working to close the disparity gap in communities across the state. She also previously served in administrative roles in social-justice-centered higher education and urban innovation organizations.

An expert on post-war reconstruction and the transnational effects of rebuilding on city development, she authored the war crimes tribunal report on the destruction of cultural property in the former Yugoslavia for the U.N. Commission of Experts and is an advisor to Belgium-based Eurocities on Ukraine reconstruction. She serves on the board of the Urban Renaissance Center, is a strategic advisor to Co.act Detroit, and is an on the advisory group for The Chronicle of Philanthropy-AP-The Conversation on philanthropy.

Lesley holds a Ph.D. in planning from The Bartlett School of the Built Environment at University College London, an M.S. in urban planning and an M.S. in historic preservation, both from Columbia University in the City of New York, and a B.A. in art history from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Related Articles
Tue October 17
Our 2022-2023 annual report highlights the Johnson Center’s 30th anniversary, a new executive director, and other key moments from the fiscal year.
Mon April 3
Get to know Lesley D. Slavitt, Ph.D., the Johnson Center's new executive director, as she shares a bit about herself and her vision for the future of the Johnson Center.