Leadership Team

Leadership Team

Michael J. Shannon


Michael Shannon is founding president of the not-for-profit Northern New Jersey Community Foundation (NNJCF) located in Hackensack, NJ. Mr. Shannon holds a B.A. in Architecture from Princeton University, an M.A. in Adult Education from the department of Organization & Leadership at Columbia Teachers College, and a M.A. in Anthropology from Columbia University. His professional background includes corporate management as President, Northwood Corporation; Director, Design & Marketing, at Dunbar Furniture Company; and Director of Design, Formica Corporation. His self-employed experience includes design management consulting, free-lance furniture design, and pre-K-12 educational consulting in the fields of Design & Technology Education, 3-D Design, and Service Learning.

Leonardo Vazquez, AICP/PP

Executive Director

For more than three decades, Leonardo Vazquez, AICP/PP has worked to enhance quality of life, advance economic equity and promote social justice in communities. He carries a wide-ranging perspective from his career as a journalist, urban planner who specializes in community economic development, leadership coach, educator, creative placemaker, and nonprofit executive.

As Executive Director of the Northern New Jersey Community Foundation, a nonprofit organization that serves an eight-county region of more than 4.3 million people. The Foundation works to make life better for more people in North Jersey by enhancing public places, building alliances to address critical community issues and connecting community-oriented organizations with valuable resources. In addition to his executive duties, Leo leads the Foundation’s environmental and economic development projects, and a new initiative to create a National Heritage Area in North Jersey.

Leo has been recognized nationally and in New Jersey for his work in urban planning, creative placemaking and social justice. In 2012, he won the American Planning Association’s National Planning Leadership Award for Advancing Diversity and Social Justice in Honor of Paul Davidoff. He also wrote or contributed to plans that won statewide awards form the APA’s New Jersey Chapter and New Jersey Future.

Before joining the Foundation in 2023, Leo had created and led two organizations that helped grow the field of creative placemaking around the United States: Creative Placemaking Communities and The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking. He has also taught at several universities: Rutgers, The Ohio State University and The New School.

He is the co-editor of Diálogos: Placemaking in Latino Communities, and author of Leading from the Middle: Strategic Thinking for Urban Planning and Community Development Professionals. He is a co-founder of the Latinos and Planning division of the American Planning Association (APA), and is an advisor to the APA’s Arts and Planning Division.

Born in Argentina and raised on Staten Island, Leo has been a Jersey guy for more than 25 years. He lives in Maplewood.

Danielle DeLaurentis

Associate Director

Danielle has been directing programs and funds at The Northern New Jersey Community Foundation (NNJCF) for over ten years. She is involved in all aspects of the organization and has worked to improve community life in the County by galvanizing and connecting people around various issues such as pediatric obesity, municipal shared services, and revitalizing downtowns via the arts. She also leads ArtsBergen, the NNJCF’s regional arts initiative to strengthen the arts community and connect the community to the arts.

Danielle has an extensive non-profit project administration background. For several years, she worked as a program manager in the field of arts-in-education, serving as the liaison between school personnel and teaching artists to design site-specific residencies for K-12 school children in the visual arts, music, dance, and theater. Danielle also administered an after-school arts program for youth-at-risk and assisted in running a summer artist institute for school teachers.

In 2013, she was certified as a Master Practitioner in Creative Placemaking, successfully completing Rutgers Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy’s year-long intensive program. Her final project was a white paper, Creative Placemaking in Englewood: Strategies Using Arts and Culture to Build a Unified Community and Boost Downtown Economy. She continues to champion creative placemaking – a planning practice that integrates arts and culture in a neighborhood, city block, town or region – as an impactful tool to build community and bolster local economy in Bergen County and the region. Danielle earned a dual BA in Communications and Art History from Fairfield University and completed a one-year post-graduate program in advertising/graphic design at the Fashion Institute of Technology.

Rosell Russell

Administrative Assistant, Northern New Jersey Community Foundation