Say Hello to Branch Out's New CEO!

Branch Out is thrilled to welcome our new CEO, Laureen Jensen.  Crystal Phillips has passed the torch and Laureen is ready to take Branch Out to the next level!  We took the opportunity to sit down with our new CEO as she takes the reigns at Branch Out.

Laureen Jensen brings an extensive background in leadership, fund development, communications, finance, and operations in the corporate and not-for-profit sectors. In her most recent role, she was the Director of Development in the Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary. Here, she led the fundraising strategies for the Hotchkiss Brain Institute, raising over $30 Million. In this position, Laureen became passionate about the intricacies of brain and mental health research. In addition, she discovered that the complexities of neurological disorders require more than just one approach to achieve impact and that alternative approaches to health treatment must be considered. Prior to this, Laureen led the philanthropy and communications departments at Big Brothers & Sisters in Calgary.

Through her work, Laureen discovered that successful organizations require the dedicated commitment of government, community, academic researchers and individuals with lived experience to collaborate and build an understanding of the many aspects of neurological health. Her entrepreneurial spirit and expertise, augmented by a Masters degree in Philanthropy and Non Profit Leadership from Ottawa’s Carleton University, have prepared Laureen to take a leadership role in the brain and mental health research community. 

Welcome Laureen! We are thrilled to have you as Branch Out's new leader. Please tell us a bit about yourself.

Thank you! I am very excited to get started in my new role with the Foundation. I began my career in the for-profit world but made the transition to non-profit ten years ago out of a keen desire to provide support and impact in the community through my daily work. While I am grateful for the experience I gained in my corporate career, I have to say that I have never looked back!  

Over my career, I have had the great fortune to work with and be mentored by several amazing leaders, but my mother is my greatest inspiration, a woman who was an entrepreneur before her time. Together with my father, they owned and operated a building supply business and raised nine children.  It was her entrepreneurial spirit that ingrained in me the courage to explore new paths, take calculated risks, continually learn from my experiences, and work as hard as it takes to achieve my goals.     

My husband Mark is the foundation of my world, and together we have raised two wonderful sons, Graham and Alex. We love spending time together as a family – especially in the beautiful Alberta and BC wilderness.

What excites you about Branch Out?

The work of the Foundation, especially in a very challenging and competitive environment, is impressive. I particularly appreciate the Foundation's laser focus on seeking innovative and alternative solutions to neurological disorders, which has shed light on a unique and important niche in the brain research community. 

How would you describe your leadership style?

I value entrepreneurial, creative, and strategic leadership. Great organizations are not built overnight – they take strong, thoughtful leadership and a lot of hard work. I am not one to back down from a challenge or shy away from the commitment it takes to achieve the mission. 

What are you looking forward to in 2020?  

Getting to know the “Branchy” community. 

What are three words would other people use to describe you?

Strategic, persistent, and fun-loving.

Where would people find you on Saturday morning?

In winter - on a pair of skis, either downhill or cross country will do.

In summer - in my garden.

What book are you reading right now?

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. 

Anything else you would like to add?

I believe whole-heartedly in research as a critical way to advance the fabric of our society. I am humbled to have been selected as the CEO and look forward to working to fulfill the mission of the Branch Out Neurological Foundation as it moves into its next decade. I wish to thank the Board and, in particular, Founder Crystal Phillips, for her incredible support as I transition into this role.