As with many of her colleagues in the not-for-profit sector, Bea Leopold entered the field through a circuitous route. In the late 1970s, she taught learning disabled children while simultaneously taking graduate courses. She was awarded a master’s degree in communications from Glassboro State College (now Rowen University) in 1979.
At her first interview with the tri-state branch of the Committee to Combat Huntington’s Disease (CCHD, later to become Huntington’s Disease Society of America), she was asked what she’d want to be called. It didn’t take her long to answer ‘Executive Director.’ "How naïve of me at that time in my career! Yet how fortuitous of my aspirations as I entered into not-for-profit leadership and management," she recalled.
Leopold was quickly targeted by Marjorie Guthrie to take a national leadership role as Editor of CCHD’s newsletter, charged with adding interest and pizzazz to the publication. "Marjorie became my first career mentor — really my first adult mentor. She taught me how to take risks and how to lead with a quiet but strong voice," Leopold remembered.
" ‘It’s not about never failing,’ she’d tell me. "It’s how you handle yourself after you fall that matters.’ "
She’s held on to that teaching to guide her through some tough risk decisions.