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About Cathy Leff

An accomplished community leader and fundraiser, Cathy Leff served as director of the Wolfsonian at Florida International University from 1997 to 2014. In her leadership role, she helped the institution evolve into a respected research center, increasing the professional staff from approximately 12 to 55. Cathy Leff was also instrumental in establishing the Wolfsonian’s reputation through outstanding exhibitions, scholarship, and publications, as well as through its fellowship program and academic exchanges. Today, the Wolfsonian is home to more than 150,000 artistic and design artifacts from North America and Europe, all dating from the era 1885 to 1945.

Throughout the course of her career, Cathy Leff has been involved in a number of community organizations. From 1976 to 1987, she served as assistant director of the City of Miami Community Development Department, where she headed cultural planning initiatives such as the Arts in Public Places Program and Community Development Block Grant Program, which planned economic development projects in low-income communities.

Cathy Leff holds a bachelor of arts in Spanish from the Sophie Newcomb College at Tulane University. She has also completed graduate coursework at the University of Miami School of Business and executive education courses for nonprofit executives at Harvard and Stanford University Graduate Schools of Business.

Work experience

Apr 2014Present

Senior Fellow

Florida International University
Jul 1997Mar 2014

Director of The Wolfsonian

Florida International University


Sep 1969May 1973


Sophie Newcomb, Tulane University