Humboldt economic leader, Leila Roberts, joins HAF+WRCF staff

Bayside, CA — Humboldt Area Foundation and Wild Rivers Community Foundation (HAF+WRCF) has hired Leila Roberts, a respected leader of community and economic development in Humboldt and Del Norte counties, to help bring technical assistance and financial investments to the region.

Roberts will collaborate with a wide range of community partners to support projects aligned with HAF+WRCF’s goals of a just economy, racial equity, thriving families and youth, and healthy ecosystems and environments.

“It is a joy and an honor to be invited to do this work with HAF+WRCF and its partners,” said Roberts, who joins HAF+WRCF has its Director of Just Community Development and Investment.  “I’m inspired by the chance to get together with smart, wise, entrepreneurial community leaders, all working hard in their respective institutions, all looking for ways to do more transformational work with the right support and resources.” 

Previously, Roberts had a successful 25-year career helping grow strong community-based organizations in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Vermont and Bangladesh. She arrived in Wiyot lands in 2015. She served as director of the North Coast Small Business Development Center (SBDC) from 2016 to 2023, growing services and impact with small, independently owned enterprises across Humboldt, Del Norte and Tribal Lands. Her work included translating all the SBDC’s training materials into Spanish and launching the region’s first worker-ownership program. She currently serves on the boards of Cooperation Humboldt and the Crescent City-Del Norte Chamber of Commerce.

For the last seven years, HAF+WRCF has partnered with Leila through her role at SBDC and her community volunteer work and is excited to bring her knowledge and continued community engagement to HAF+WRCF’s four-county region — Del Norte, Humboldt, Trinity counties in California, and Curry County in Oregon.

“Ultimately, Leila will guide the foundation to its best use of its own investment capital in the community, while mobilizing others to collaborate,” said CEO Bryna Lipper said. “Vitally, she will help HAF+WRCF further enliven our values around equity and a just economy by balancing social outcomes with long-term financial return in this work.”

Roberts will work with key nonprofits, local businesses and entrepreneurs, local businesses, entrepreneurs, tribal and local governments, and mission-based coalitions to identify their goals, their gaps, and support their readiness toward receiving hybrid funding opportunities. That support will include finding and leveraging grants, loans and investments, as well as providing individual coaching, network connecting, strategic planning, and convening. 

“After nearly seven years supporting our region’s critical small businesses to start, grow and thrive, I am looking forward to serving our region’s whole economic ecosystem.” Roberts added, “I believe our path toward a ‘Just Economy’ is laid with deep and patient relationship-building, as well as smart capital.”

Roberts will work closely with HAF+WRCF’s Impact Investment group and the Strategy, Programs and Community Solutions teams, as well in partnership with HAF+WRCF’s Advancement and Finance and Administration.

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