AGE: 29 Assistant Policy Scientist, Newark Introduction. Leann, a native Delawarean, is passionate about connecting all of Delaware’s unique assets for a better future. She works in the Conflict Resolution Program (CRP) at the University ...
Introduction. Leann, a native Delawarean, is passionate about connecting all of Delaware’s unique assets for a better future. She works in the Conflict Resolution Program (CRP) at the University of Delaware’s Institute for Public Administration (IPA), volunteers as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for the Office of the Child Advocate and serves as Staff Director at Kay’s Kamp.
Expanded enrollment in UD’s Spring Semester in Washington, D.C., program to double its original size. I mentor and place 16 undergraduate students in semester-long internships at lobbying firms, nonprofits, think tanks, and on Capitol Hill.
Co-led the launch of The Newark Partnership (TNP), which brings together business, residents, and nonprofits in the City of Newark. Helped to build a diverse and collaborative coalition for the Board of TNP and operate as one part of a two-person Executive Director position.
Mediate and facilitate for complex state-level complaints between families with special-needs children and their school districts, which potentially have saved the district and families hundreds of thousands of dollars in lawsuits.
Led the six-month long community-centric, strategic planning process for the City of Milford. This included leading 21 community conversations (in two languages) to inform decisions in the Strategic Plan.
Direct the internationally accredited Municipal Clerks Program for the State of Delaware where I coordinate a three-year rotation of professional classes.
When working for the Delaware House of Representatives, drafted and helped pass Delaware’s first recognition of native Indian tribes, which gave tribe members access to additional health care and government support.
Researched and wrote “Purchase of Care” and “Economics of Childcare” brief that are being used to evaluate and adjust current funding and accreditations systems for Delaware’s early childhood education system.
Mentor more than 20 undergraduate and graduate students through career goal setting. Guide students who struggle with mental-health concerns to balance and better prioritize their busy schedules.
Lead teams of diverse professionals involved in complex court custody cases to ensure that the child has everything they need in the present, while advocating for their best interests in the long term. This includes coordinating between medical teams, social workers, foster parents, group home staff, and biological parents. I have worked with one child on the autism spectrum for five years and one child who is medically dependent on a wheelchair and ventilator for 10 months.
Lead and manage 30-plus staff and 55-plus campers at Kay’s Kamp, Delaware’s oncology camp, to ensure a safe and fun week for all.
Facilitate two committees for The Newark Partnership (TNP), which work on economic development and nonprofit enhancement, as well as for the Board of Directors, giving guidance on day-to-day operations of TNP.
Vision: The Institute for Public Administration (IPA), now in its 45th year, has always worked with governments. However, we are now in a unique space to expand that scope. We have a staff of experienced Delaware leaders with diverse backgrounds, not just in government, but the nonprofit and business sectors as well. We exist within the university and do doctoral-level research, but we communicate that research in formats that people from all walks of life can understand and use. I want to expand our “expert” network to include more than just Ph.D.’s, CEOs, and attorneys. We will bring community block leaders together to discuss neighborhood safety with police; we will connect second grade teachers to legislators making school funding decisions; and we will connect “strategic doing” processes to the high-stakes world of business management for CEOs and CFOs. I would also like to see IPA expand to have significant staff time spent in each of Delaware’s counties. We already do work in all three counties, but the majority of our time is spent in New Castle County. Delaware’s fastest growing economies and neighborhoods are in Kent and Sussex, so we must (and will) adapt to these changing geographic demographics. As someone with a network within each of these vision areas, I will play an integral part in connecting the vision to the people we need to grow our brand and service areas.
Community service: I spend between 30 and 50 hours per month volunteering with the Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program and Kay’s Kamp. I am the CASA for two different children/youth in foster care. One is now in extended jurisdiction, which means he is over the age of 18, but opted to keep me as his advocate and help him navigate independence after being in foster-care facilities for five years. The other is a 6-year-old medically sensitive girl. I work to bring all of the team players together, which includes Delaware Family Services, parent interventionists, attorneys, and doctors. I make sure the judge has a full picture of each child’s case — not just legally, but also the needs of each individual child. I also help guide the kids so that they can reach their highest levels of success. For Kay’s Kamp, Delaware’s only camp for kids with cancer, I am the volunteer staff director. I work on recruitment, training, and retention of our 100% volunteer staff. I also serve on the planning committee for Kamp, which includes mapping out the programs for the week and ensuring they are accessible to the most medically fragile kampers.
Tell us a few things that aren’t on your resume or your LinkedIn profile:
I am an avid reader and average about 80 books per year. As a part of funding my addiction to curating my own library, I anonymously review manuscripts for publishers.
I love animals, especially dogs. I dog- and cat-sit for about 10 families as a part time job.
Historic sites have been a part of every family vacation since I was born. I’ve been to 10 presidents’ houses.
[caption id="attachment_169504" align="alignright" width="413"] Leann and Jynx relaxing in the grass.[/caption]
Where are you most at ease? In a hammock with a book and my dog at my feet (not in the hammock though — that's dangerous).
What are you currently reading? “Orphan Train,” by Christina Baker Kline
What did you want to be when you grew up? A teacher. Really, I just wanted to write on a chalkboard every day, but I may have been on to something. My current work with UD students is my favorite part of my job!
What’s your next big goal? Write a creative fiction book. A light-hearted, but none-to-cliché book about being a twenty-something on the cusp of your 30s and working through all that comes with that.
What advice would you give to yourself 10 years ago? You are in control. Comparisons, anxiety, perfectionism do not control you. Once you realize that, nothing can stop you!
Family: Super close to my entire extended family (shout-out to mom, Gina, dad, Keith, and litter sister, Christine). My life partner, T.J. and I have one fur puppy, Jynx. I received my bachelor’s in English literature and psychology, as well as a master's of public administration from the University of Delaware (go Hens!)