Chicago Fundraiser Channing Lenert Named Outstanding Young Professional

(Arlington, Va.) Channing Lenert, MS, CFRE, recently named as program officer for Polk Bros. Foundation in Chicago, IL, has been selected as one of the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ (AFP) 2019 Outstanding Young Professionals.

The award recognizes fundraisers under the age of 31 who have already shown exemplary work in raising funds, inspiring donors, helping manage campaigns and giving back to the profession. Lenert is one of three young fundraisers to receive the award this year.

Lenert has already had significant impact on the Chicago nonprofit community in both his professional and volunteer roles. Previously the senior development manager for Chicago’s Navy Pier, the most visited cultural institution in the Midwest, he increased major grant support by 300 percent and secured the organization’s first federal grant. Entrusted by Navy Pier to work with Chicago’s leading grant funders, his portfolio included foundations that in other organizations were often assigned to senior development officers.

Prior to Navy Pier, Channing worked for the Chicago literacy nonprofit Working in the Schools (WITS), where he secured and renewed the largest contribution in the organization's history: $100,000 in two successive years.

“I'm honored and humbled to receive AFP's Outstanding Young Professional Award,” said Lenert. “The Association has played such an integral role in my growth and development as a professional fundraiser. I'm so grateful to so many—particularly in the AFP Chicago community—for their mentorship, friendship, and diligence in strengthening the social impact sector.”

Lenert first joined AFP as a Chicago Chapter Fellow in 2015 and was selected as the chapter’s Chamberlain Scholar to attend the AFP International Conference on Fundraising the following year. Two years later, he was elected to the chapter’s board of directors, where he serves on the IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access) Committee, is vice chair of the Annual Philanthropy Awards Luncheon Committee, and is a faculty member for the Fundamentals of Fundraising course.

Lenert earned a Master of Science in Nonprofit Management from Chicago's Spertus Institute, with a fundraising management concentration, in 2014, and attained the Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) credential in 2018. He has been selected a 2019 Fellow in the IMPACT Leadership Development Program, a joint venture of the Chicago Urban League and the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. This program strives to move the needle toward racial parity in leadership positions by developing and supporting emerging African-American leaders.

“Channing’s accomplishments as an AFP Chicago Fellow and IMPACT Fellow, his attainment of an advanced degree and CFRE, and his ongoing service to AFP and other organizations show a young professional who is successful, committed to growth in himself and others, and who has earned the confidence of his peers and community,” said John Huebler, MPA, CFRE, senior major gifts officer with the Illinois Institute of Technology and who nominated Lenert for this recognition.

Lenert is an active volunteer with City Year Chicago and the Chicago Urban League. His involvement with City Year Chicago started as a two-term AmeriCorps assignment, and he now serves as chair of the City Year Chicago Alumni Board. This board oversees support and engagement initiatives with current AmeriCorps members, engages with City Year alumni networking, and participates in fundraising for the Chicago site. With the Chicago Urban League, he serves on the Scholarship Program Committee where he reviews undergraduate scholarship applications and interviews final candidates to receive scholarships.

“Channing Lenert has already had such an indelible impact at both the organizations where he has served and in the fundraising community overall,” said Mike Geiger, MBA, CPA, president and CEO of AFP. “He is a consummate professional in every way—successful at fundraising, of course, but also in demonstrating a strong desire to give back to the community. We’re excited to be able to recognize him as one of our Outstanding Young Professionals—it is a well-deserved honor.”

More information about Channing Lenert, along with the AFP International Conference on Fundraising, can be obtained by contacting Michael Nilsen at (425) 241 – 4675 or [email protected].
* * *

Since 1960, the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) has been the standard bearer for professionalism in fundraising. The association works to advance effective and ethical philanthropy by providing advocacy, research, education, mentoring, collaboration and technology opportunities for the world’s largest network of professional fundraisers. AFP’s 31,000 members raise more than $100 billion annually for a wide variety of charitable organizations and causes across the globe. For more information, go to

# # #

 Here are a few highlights from the AFP International Conference on Fundraising (ICON) during the Closing General Session Tuesday, April 2, 2019.