Safe Passage Project Names Rich Leimsider as New Executive Director

Safe Passage, August 16, 2016

Press Release

Safe Passage Project Names Rich Leimsider as New Executive DirectorLeimsider.Headshot

Safe Passage Project, a not-for-profit created to address the unmet legal needs of indigent immigrant youth living in New York, announced today that Rich Leimsider, a leader in the social sector, joined the organization as Executive Director effective August 8th, 2016.

Founded by New York Law School Professor Lenni Benson in 2006, Safe Passage Project assists unaccompanied minors in immigration proceedings by providing them with basic legal advice and assistance. In response to the extraordinary number of unaccompanied children seeking protection within the United States and the over 15,000 cases in the New York Immigration Court, in 2013 Safe Passage expanded beyond a law school clinic to become an independent nonprofit organization hosted by New York Law School.  Today, Safe Passage serves 550+ clients with nine staff attorneys and 400+ active pro bono attorneys.  Professor Benson will continue to play a major role with the organization as both a Board Director and in a new role as Senior Advisor to Safe Passage Project on issues of Policy and Law.

Rich Leimsider is a proven social sector leader, having spent the last 15 years building systems, managing teams, and raising money at the intersection of innovation and social impact. As an independent consultant to nonprofits and foundations, he advised on strategy, board governance, and fundraising with a focus on youth-serving and criminal justice organizations. As Vice President of Fellowship Programs at Echoing Green he helped to significantly increase the scale of the flagship programs from 15 to 50 fellowships per year, led on $15MM in philanthropic funding, and launched new programs on climate change, education reform, and black male achievement.

Pam Foster, Safe Passage Project Board Chair and Managing Director at the Rockefeller Foundation, said “I am delighted to announce that Rich Leimsider has accepted our offer to become Safe Passage Project’s next Executive Director. Rich brings considerable leadership, management, strategy and fundraising skills, and a growing passion for the mission. Rich will be a wonderful new leader for Safe Passage Project and a great colleague to the Board and to the staff.”

Professor Benson noted “I am so pleased that Rich is joining our outstanding staff in building Safe Passage Project. His expertise in working with start-up nonprofits and social justice enterprise organizations will be of tremendous value as we continue to grow and work to serve immigrant children. I look forward to working with Rich and will continue to be engaged.”

“The work of Safe Passage Project to defend immigrant children at risk is more important today than ever before,” said Mr. Leimsider.  “I’m honored to have the opportunity to work alongside such incredible people and to have the chance to contribute to this mission.  I’m grateful to Lenni for building this organization, and for the fact that Lenni and the law school students will continue to be part of our service and research mission.

About Safe Passage Project

Safe Passage Project is a not-for-profit corporation created to address the unmet legal needs of indigent immigrant youth living in New York.  Safe Passage Project is currently assisting over 550 youth in removal (deportation) proceedings in the New York area. Safe Passage Project is housed within, and receives significant support from, New York Law School.  Other key support comes from the Robin Hood Foundation, the City of New York, Justice AmeriCorps, the Zegar Family Foundation, the Health and Welfare Council of Long Island, the Lambert Family Fund,  the Keith Haring Foundation, Jadeja and Cimone, and the Practising Law Institute. 

For more information about Safe Passage Project, call 212-324-6558, or visit


Megan Eiss-Proctor, Associate Director, Operations and Development (917) 257-1058