CHICAGO (August 2, 2023) – U.S. Soccer announced today that Leah Heister Burton has been hired to the role of Chief Advancement Officer. Reporting directly to U.S. Soccer CEO and Secretary General JT Batson, in this role, Burton will oversee the team leading the Federation’s efforts to secure and expand funding opportunities that increase U.S. Soccer’s visibility, impact, and resources.
“We are thrilled to welcome Leah to U.S. Soccer. Leah will help us continue to grow and diversify the sources of funding that enable us to grow the game, support player development, and make the game accessible for everyone across the country,” said Batson. “Leah brings years of experience across a changing philanthropic landscape that will allow her to hit the ground running in building the relationships needed to solidify U.S. Soccer’s financial future as we prepare for 2026 and beyond.”
Burton’s appointment furthers the Federation’s commitment to continuing to build a culture of philanthropy that supports its efforts to grow soccer across the country. These efforts include: managing robust national teams and development paths for all soccer from youth to disability programs; expanding access to underserved communities to promote equity and raise the level of play; and safeguarding athletes by convening experts and committing resources to better understand and address issues like head injuries.
Burton brings more than 15 years of strategic leadership experience overseeing organizations’ collective fundraising efforts at some of the world’s most respected institutions. Most recently, Burton worked with the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation as their Deputy Director and Chief Advancement Officer where she oversaw the planning, management, and execution of the museum and foundation’s strategic engagement with current and prospective donors on a domestic and global level. She is also adjunct lecturer at Columbia University, teaching a course on fundraising for nonprofits that focuses on teaching tomorrow’s leaders good governance, emerging philanthropic models of giving, as well as nonprofit management strategy. Before this, she worked both in-house and with consultancies on strategic fundraising development for nonprofits across a variety of sectors supporting transformational change.
Currently, U.S. Soccer’s annual operating budget of $175M is made up of less than 5% from individual philanthropic contributions, with the majority U.S. Soccer funding coming from partnerships, events, media, consumer products, and membership services. As U.S. Soccer looks toward 2026 and the years ahead, Burton’s team will be charged with significantly expanding contributed revenue from across philanthropic communities. The Federation has also created a plan for a major capital and programmatic campaign to transform and grow the organization and its impact in major ways.
“I am thrilled to begin my tenure working with U.S. Soccer during such a pivotal moment for the sport in our country,” said Burton. “As the vision and impact of the organization continues to evolve, it will be imperative to recognize and adequately resource important projects that will help achieve long-term success and expand overall access to the game.
Prior to the Guggenheim, Burton worked with organizations that include: CCS Fundraising, ALSAC/St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and St. Mary’s Healthcare System for Children. She received the National Young Professional of the Year Award from the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ in 2017, where she is currently a board member.