Tom Leiden

Tom’s passion for nature and adventure started over 30-years ago, when he became interested in birding in his hometown Cleveland, Ohio. His study of birds led him to appreciate the interconnections of nature and started him on a journey that became a lifelong pursuit to help conserve our world’s wildlife.

His first encounter with cranes occurred early in his birding career on a field trip with the Cleveland Museum of Natural History to the Jasper-Pulaski Fish & Wildlife Area. He was in awe of the spectacle of thousands of calling Sandhill Cranes that filled the horizon and then landed to roost for the night.

Tom attended a lecture by Dr. George Archibald at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History in March 2016. This led to his visit to the International Crane Foundation (ICF) to meet with George and hear a presentation by Kerryn Morrison on the African Crane Conservation Program. It was a delightful afternoon, especially his tour of the grounds afterward with George and seeing all 15 species of crane in one place. In 2017, he had the opportunity to see 11 of the 15 crane species in the wild as his adventures with his wife, Kathy, took him across the United States, Africa and Asia.  The sight of cranes never gets old.  He is looking forward to seeing the other four species in the wild in the near future.

Tom retired in 2015 after the successful sale of his 3rd generation company to his management team. Recruited by his uncle, Tom spent 34-years with Leiden Cabinet Company where he progressively served as President, CEO and sole owner. Leiden manufactures wood fixtures for the retail market for such accounts as Panera Bread, America Eagle and Dick’s Sporting Goods stores.

Tom is a trustee on the Cleveland Zoological Society Board where he also serves as Secretary and is an Executive Committee member.  He joined the Cleveland Museum of Natural History (CMNH) board in 2001. He is now an honorary trustee and a member of the Natural Areas Committee.  In 2014, Tom and Kathy received the CMNH’s Conservation Award. In 2011, Tom and his wife, Kathy, formed the Leiden Conservation Foundation to streamline their growing philanthropic support for conservation-related activities. Tom serves as President. In 2016, Giraffe Conservation Foundation USA, a 501-(c)(3), was created. Tom serves as President of the GCF-USA Board.

Tom graduated from John Carroll University. He had the distinction of receiving his Bachelors and Masters in Chemistry in the same graduation ceremony in 1978. He went on to do graduate work in Chemistry at Stanford University.

Tom believes working in the field with researchers and conservationists to save a species from going extinct in the wild puts a different perspective on the work required. From monitoring Red-cockaded woodpecker nests to installing trackers on African penguins to assisting in the translocation of the Rothschild’s giraffe across the Nile River, all were tremendous learning experiences for him. It’s about collaborating with people or their communities to develop a win-win situation for the people, the ecosystem and the wildlife present.