Carolynn Lee is a senior program officer at Ascendium. She is responsible for strategic grantmaking in support of Ascendium’s Streamlining Key Learner Transitions focus area, which seeks to improve transitions through better data sharing; enhanced collaboration between postsecondary institutions and systems; and more effective processes for aligning educational and workforce training programs with labor market demand. She joined the organization in 2017.
Prior to joining Ascendium, Carolynn worked for Kohler Foundation, Inc., where she managed grantmaking, scholarship awards and community arts programming. Carolynn was also the first full-time program director for the Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa, where she coordinated regional philanthropic grantmaking and community development. Outside of Ascendium, Carolynn prioritizes grassroots community empowerment initiatives and enjoys organizing around issues related to equity. She has served in volunteer leadership roles with the Iowa Women’s Foundation, the Sheboygan Area Nonprofit Network and the Sheboygan LGBTQ Alliance. She founded Progressive Women of Sheboygan and co-founded Cedar Valley PrideFest.
Raised in Waterloo, Iowa, she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Communication from the University of Northern Iowa and a Master of Arts degree in Philanthropy & Development from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota.