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Meet The Team

Lani Santo

For over a decade, Lani has dedicated her passion and thoughtful leadership to Footsteps.  She has driven the organization’s growth from a 3-person start-up with a $400,000 budget in 2010 to an established 501c3 with a staff of over 30 people, a program center in lower Manhattan with remote reach nationwide, and a $5 million annual operating budget. Lani recently led the organization through a robust strategic plan process, which has laid out a clear vision for Footsteps through 2027. 

Lani’s leadership philosophy centers members as she believes that those directly impacted by our work should have a strong voice in program direction. This approach includes representation within Footsteps staff and on the board of directors, promoting a member-leadership pipeline within and beyond Footsteps, centering member feedback in program development and planning, and meeting members where they are in their journeys. 

Lani has amplified Footsteps’ profile to reach the audiences of The New York Times, specifically the groundbreaking Peabody-nominated investigation into yeshivas and in the NYT Magazine, in the New Yorker, and on Netflix, which debuted One of Us, an Oscar shortlisted documentary following three courageous Footsteps members.

Prior to Footsteps, Lani served as a Senior Program Officer at American Jewish World Service, where she focused on immersive international service-learning experiences for young adults. Lani is an alumna of the Wexner Field Fellowship, and is also an alumna of Avodah’s Jewish Service Corps, where she served on the board from 2004-2013. She has sat on advisory councils for numerous organizations including Unchained at Last and Upstart.  She was named to The Jewish Week’s ’36 Under 36′ list in 2015. Lani graduated from Barnard College and holds an MPA in Public and Nonprofit Management from NYU’s Wagner School. Lani lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two children.