1. Started as a teacher

Katie Couric was a childhood idol. Eager to follow her path, I studied journalism. A few internships in, I found myself less interested in telling stories and more interested in living them. Combining that itch with a lifelong commitment to service, I joined Teach For America and spent three years in the classroom. 

 

2. Led public sector innovation

My experience as a teacher convinced me that educational equity is a solvable problem. For 10+ years I worked toward this cause in the non-profit and public sectors, most recently as a senior leader in the San Francisco Unified School District. I discovered design while opening the district's Innovation Lab. Using a human-centered process to develop it put me back in proximity with the system's most important users: kids, teachers and school leaders. Through that, I realized that this proximity is where I do my best work. I knew I never wanted to be far from users again, and design put them front and center at every turn. My love for people, for creative problem solving, and for inclusive processes led an important conclusion: I wanted to be a designer.

 
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3. Made a pivot to UX design

Since leaving the district, I’ve honed my craft as a user experience designer, learning from some of the best and working as a freelancer. I've taught design thinking workshops, facilitated design processes and R+D'd a number of projects myself. I recently took the leap to learn UX in the digital space through General Assembly's UX Design Immersive. I'm currently looking for a new company to call home!

 

Recommendations

“Leslie possesses a rare combination of skills and qualities that enable her to breathe life into an organization with remarkable speed and leave everyone with a feeling of accomplishment, connection and hope for what is possible. She is perpetually productive, generous and demanding, and she leads with a creative confidence that inspires her colleagues, superiors and employees to go above and beyond.”

Brian Fox | Former Direct Report + Director, SFUSD iLab

 

“Leslie has an amazing energy that is enthusiastic, compassionate and enjoyable to be around. She inspires people in this way, with her vision and her ability to imbue others with the energy to get excited and focused on the task at hand. Leslie has a wonderful balance of being able to think strategically and systemically, while at the same time being detail-oriented and excellent at execution of plans.”

Guadalupe Guerrero | Former Boss + Superintendent, Portland Public Schools

 

“Leslie’s ability to foster relational trust and a sense of shared accountability with those she works with consistently stands out. She is able to transform what would typically be unremarkable moments within our work to celebrate and reflect: a Google Hangout brainstorming session, the opening and closing of a meeting or workshop, or just the occasion of coming together for a shared purpose.”

Marthaa Torres | Visiting Assistant Professor, New York University

 

“Leslie is an incredible talent. She is able to design human-centered experiences across contexts and spaces and knows how to effectively cater to various audiences during facilitation. This combination is powerful.” 

Masa Uzicanin | Founder + Executive Director, Sevenzo

 

“Leslie is a leader and collaborator that gets things done. I know I can always count on Leslie to be an enthusiastic thought partner and strategist for any problem and would like all of her time if I could have it. And above all this, she is one of the most warm and loving souls you will ever meet.”

Ratna Amin | Policy Director, SPUR

 

“Leslie is forward-thinking and strives endlessly to put people in positions where they are going to make the greatest impact.  Her strategic mind is second to none, and she has the rare ability to hold both the big picture and the specific details in mind and blend them into a cohesive vision. Leslie is an amazing asset to any team!”

Elliot Haspel | Former Colleague + Program Officer, Robins Foundation