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Topeka Mayor Michelle De La Isla joining Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation



TOPEKA, Kan. – Topeka Mayor Michelle De La Isla knows what she is doing next, and it involves  “economic opportunity for all.”

De La Isla is joining the Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation as a managing director focused on strategy and grantmaking in the Midwest.

Her role puts her on the foundation’s senior leadership team, which means she will help with strategy, goals and external outreach, said Nancy Huang, chief of staff for the Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation.

“I’ve had the privilege of serving my community, getting to know close-up what works and what doesn’t, and then leading to help drive change to make lives better for Kansans,” De La Isla said in a Thursday morning news release announcing her new position. “I have tried to apply those lessons in my conversations with my fellow mayors.

“Now, with Draper Richards Kaplan, the stage is more expansive.”

The foundation describes itself as a “global venture philanthropy firm supporting early-stage, high-impact social enterprises.”

De La Isla will stay in Topeka in her new post.

“She will be staying in Topeka as she leads our Kansas and Midwest presence, and we are very interested in having her on the ground there,” Huang said.

De La Isla joins another past elected official, as former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius is a member of the group’s strategic advisory board.

De La Isla announced March 19 she wouldn’t seek re-election. Currently, only Deputy Mayor Mike Padilla is running to replace her, according to the Shawnee County Election Office’s candidates list.

“We fully expect that her strategic leadership and execution will contribute significantly to improving the lives of so many whose opportunities are constrained by lack of access to the basics of life,” said Jim Bildner, CEO of Draper Richards Kaplan. “These challenges with inequality have only been exacerbated by the pandemic, and there is much work to be done.”