20 Under 40: Brenna Leech

Eugene Hostel

Impact and Community have been the driving forces in my life since I joined the Air Force Academy at 17 years old. It’s been a long journey, with hardships ranging from sexual assault to homelessness and housing insecurity, but the desire to serve has only strengthened through hardship.

My professional life and personal life are inextricably linked, because I cannot bear to spend so much of my life working for organizations, I don’t believe in. Through entrepreneurship, I have found a vehicle to strengthen my own connection to impact and to others, while simultaneously ensuring that I truly wake up every day doing what I love. As a business coach since 2017, it’s been a true gift to witness, coach, and often comfort entrepreneurs from across the world and from every manner of background to further their own dreams. I have found that entrepreneurs are not all the media cracks them up to be, millionaire playboys that have “hacked the work world”. They are gritty, everyday people, whose desire to bring a community service or product that they believe in to others inspires them to walk outside the norms of the system and risk their own security for the desire to provide good to the world. Impact goes hand in hand with entrepreneurship, and it remains the greatest joy of my life to walk alongside them with the Eugene Hostel.

I bought the hostel in 2022 with every last cent I had, and through focusing on community development, have been able to bring it life in ways it never has been before. We’ve hired our first management team, 100% queer and femme-bodied, to guide us into long-term support for this community. We’ve secured a grant from ODOT to build a micro transportation hub. We’ve supported hundreds from all over through our work trade program, providing bus passes, flexible work schedules, and monthly staff trips to help them experience the joys of Eugene and our community. We see the hostel as a vehicle to help people get back on their feet, learn skills, and develop community living principles, and have helped thousands grow. I can’t imagine a better place to lead and grow myself.

It is with joy and gratefulness, and a deep excitement for the future, that I accept the Eugene 20 under 40 award for the class of 2023.