Uplifting Athletes welcomes Leanna Annunziato to team as Uplifting Experiences Manager

Uplifting Athletes is pleased to welcome Leanna Annunziato to our team as the Uplifting Experiences Manager to help us better fulfill our mission to inspire the Rare Disease Community with hope.

To learn more about Uplifting Experiences and how you can become more involved visit upliftingathletes.org/experiences

“We are thrilled to have Leanna as part of the Uplifting Athletes team,” Uplifting Athletes Executive Director Rob Long said. “Leanna brings dynamic experience to the table that will be instrumental in the development and growth of our Uplifting Experiences program.”


Roles and responsibilities: The Uplifting Experiences Manager is responsible for leveraging the position of Uplifting Athletes to harness the power of sport to establish Uplifting Experiences that benefit the rare disease community.

Education: Leanna received her BA in Mass Communications and Media Studies from Arizona State University.

Career Path: Leanna’s career journey began as a freelance photographer, capturing moments at weddings and other events for nearly a decade. In 2017, she discovered her calling in the nonprofit sector after joining the Dream Foundation team, where she had the privilege of fulfilling end-of-life dreams to terminally ill adults and their families nationwide.

After a relocation in 2019, Leanna honed her skills in philanthropy and marketing at Unlimited Possibilities, helping to create a limitless future for children and families with disabilities in Orange County, CA. In January 2023, she took on a new opportunity as the Uplifting Experiences Manager at Uplifting Athletes.

Favorite Quote: “You cannot control everything that happens to you; you can only control the way you respond to what happens. Your response is your power. ” – Anonymous


What draws you to nonprofit work?

Having the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others is a privilege! Even on my hardest days, I am motivated in knowing that my efforts are building on something bigger than just myself. 

Share one or two of your most meaningful professional accomplishments and success stories?

One of the most memorable moments of my career was being a part of Unlimited Possibilities during the first lockdown of COVID. The dedication I saw from our entire staff as we quickly adapted to find innovative ways to provide essential care to the disability community left a lasting impact on me. As a part of the philanthropy team at the time, I was blown away by the generosity that allowed our organization to keep our doors open and prioritize the needs of the community in the face of so many unknowns. The whole experience not only sharpened my ability to adapt, but really reinforced my personal and professional values.

Tell us something about yourself we won’t find on your resume?

I am passionate about nature and enjoy both landscape and macro photography when I am able to travel.

What is a valuable lesson you have learned from your experiences that you carry with you?

Positivity is key! After talking with hundreds of individuals either living with terminal diagnoses or facing lifelong health challenges, I’ve learned how much a positive mindset can shape your day to day experiences. 

Tell us about your family and where you grew up, and how that shaped the person you are today?

Growing up in Rancho Cucamonga, CA as the third child of six siblings, I am really lucky to be part of a large Italian family. My parents’ passion for community and giving back to others was instilled in me from a really early age. I’m also extremely grateful for my siblings who continue to remind me on a daily basis not to take life (or myself) too seriously.

What piqued your interest about joining the team at Uplifting Athletes?

My personal experience as a sibling to my older sister who was diagnosed with a rare disease called myasthenia gravis in 2011 (pictured above) sparked my interest in the organization’s mission initially. Once I had the chance to learn more about the Uplifting Experiences program itself and meet the team, I knew this role was the right next step for me!


Favorite Sports Team (any sport)?

Los Angeles Angels

Read the book or see the movie?

Read the book

Go-To fast food stop?


Hobbies or other interests?

I love photography, traveling, and visiting zoos and aquariums in my free time!

Last concert you attended?

Ben Rector at the House of Blues