Karyn Cohen Leviton, one8 Foundation

TITLE: Director

FOCUS AREAS: Education, at-risk youth, economic self-sufficiency, Jewish community, Israel

CONTACT: 857-202-6250

PROFILE: Karyn Cohen Leviton joined the foundation in March 2013 and is now the foundation director. Leviton’s foundation bio shares:

Karyn joined the one8 Foundation, formerly known as the Jacobson Family Foundation, in March 2013 as Portfolio Manager. She leads the foundation’s work in Jewish Continuity, Israel and special projects in the US in the non-Jewish related issues areas.  She’s responsible for identifying great organizations and leaders, developing grants and providing strategic and tactical support to help organizations increase their impact in significant and sustainable ways.

Prior to joining JFF, Karyn was Associate Vice President of Strategy Implementation at Combined Jewish Philanthropies, where she managed strategy and grant making for engaging key populations in Jewish life, and led measurement efforts and other strategic projects.  She started her career working for the New England Holocaust Memorial and in the direct marketing industry. After business school, she spent nine years as a management consultant in Chicago and Boston with Capgemini focused on growth and customer strategy.

Karyn received a BA in Art History from The George Washington University and an MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management.  She lives in Lexington with her husband, son and daughter.

Her General Assembly profile shares:

Karyn is the director of the one8 Foundation. She leads the foundation’s work in Jewish continuity, Israel and special projects in the US in the non-Jewish related issues areas. She’s responsible for identifying great organizations and leaders, developing grants and providing strategic and tactical support to help organizations increase their impact in significant and sustainable ways.

Prior to joining one8, Karyn was associate vice president of strategy implementation at Combined Jewish Philanthropies, where she managed strategy and grant making for engaging key populations in Jewish life, and led measurement efforts and other strategic projects. She started her career working for the New England Holocaust Memorial and in the direct marketing industry. After business school, she spent nine years as a management consultant in Chicago and Boston with Capgemini focused on growth and customer strategy.

Karyn received a BA in art history from George Washington University and an MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management. She lives in Lexington with her husband, son and daughter.

In 2013, Leviton wrote the following in response to a Jewish Philanthropy article:

I agree that funders often focus too much on efficiency when evaluating a non-profit. In the absence of a clear SROI, efficiency is often all they have to go by. I also agree that too often, funders and even non-profit managers are not comfortable employing market tools to improve their effectiveness. There is an expectation that advertising and R&D is a luxury that they can’t afford.

That being said, when investment can be linked to value creation (clear outputs or outcomes), the story is different. If an advertising campaign produces a big bump in website visits or program participation, it’s worth it. If an investment in R&D yields 5 new ideas and one that makes it to implementation, then it’s worth it. When viewed as part of a strategy – perhaps an input/action in theory of change terms – and not as administrative overhead, costs for advertising, salaries and other activities can be better understood. What would it mean to have investments clearly linked to specific goals and outcomes that they would be accountable for? Can we think about some of the activities as part of the core offering? Ultimately, funders have a choice of where to put each dollar. Most want to optimize it. So I would venture to say that many don’t disagree with the value of investing in staff, advertising and R&D. My guess is that they need a clear link to the value created relative to other options.