TOPEKA (KSNT) – Jennifer LeClair is a popular figure in the Topeka community, as she plays a huge part in building great futures for local children.

She currently serves as Vice President of Marketing and Communications for Boys & Girls Clubs of Topeka and holds an executive position on the board of directors for Topeka Zoo and Conservation Center.

“I’m so lucky to be part of the team here,” LeClair said. “Our CEO, Dawn McWilliams, is the embodiment of what you would want in a nonprofit leader. There’s nothing here that she isn’t capable of doing or that she doesn’t lead with grace…and she makes all of us stronger by learning from her. I think that my personal and professional growth I’ve had during my time here is largely attributed to her.”

She calls her current position “the next logical step” in a career of twists and turns.

“Now, I’m really driven by passion,” LeClair said. “I don’t have any shortage of it, so whatever difference I can make here a Boys & Girls Clubs, at the zoo, on the board, or just in the community in general, I feel like my passion will make it all go a lot further.”

Thinking back to her youth, she recalls a love for art, just everything about it.

“When I was little, I always loved anything that made my hands dirty, so clay or anything that I can really touch, but as I got older, I got more and more into painting, so I kind a look around the room and you see all that. It just makes me so happy to be around it,” LeClair said.

It also makes her heart happy to instill a passion for creating art onto others.

“I do it a lot for myself, and you know it comes in waves,” LeClair said. “I love when I have the opportunity to mentor a little group of girls here and once a week we get together, we do just some arts and crafts activities and it’s a good way for me to connect with the kids and do something that we all love to do.”

Family activities, especially those involving her six-year-old daughter keep her very busy, but she tries to still paint in her spare time and has a small business that sells wearable art.

“I do hats, and jewelry, and things like that, and anything that can keep me creative it helps me feel more fulfilled,” LeClair said.

Her heart and soul, when not at one of the 14 Boys & Girls Clubs, is at Topeka Zoo.

“I’ve been on the board there for about three years,” LeClair said. “Through the education scholarships, I’m able to help kids get access to zoo camps and things that allow them to follow their passions… I want kids and everybody in our community to feel that sense of belonging wherever they’re at – and however we can go about that is important work.”

She certainly appreciates how hard nonprofit work can be but says it’s important work that can be extremely satisfying.