Two decades ago, Fred Ali, the leader of a nonprofit serving homeless youth, walked into the lobby of an imposing downtown Los Angeles office tower and pressed the button for the 30th floor. He got out of the elevator and headed toward the office suite of the Weingart Foundation.

Although Weingart was founded in the 1950s by a humble, self-described “anonymous orphan,” it had become an intimidating place for grantseekers. The Weingart board consisted entirely of powerful business leaders, and its decisions had huge stakes for hundreds of nonprofits throughout Southern California.

Before Ali entered Weingart’s office suite, he turned around and headed back down the elevator. “I was so nervous,” he recalls. “I went up and down the elevator five times before I got up the courage to walk in.”

Today, Weingart is a very different place. When you ride the elevator up to Weingart’s office today, you find warm, empathetic professionals who are passionate about social equity and effective philanthropic practice. And that has a lot to do with the fact that Ali now runs the foundation and has built a remarkable team who share his first-hand understanding of the needs and challenges of nonprofits and their beneficiaries.

Read the full profile on the Weingart Foundation at Leap of Reason Ambassadors Community.