Hi, I’m Leslie. I’m an educator, design thinker, endurance athlete, amateur electrician, mom, music lover, urbanist, renegade optimist, and outdoor adventurer.
I’ve been working at the intersection of design, service and education for 16 years. I started my career in human rights advocacy with a NGO at the United Nations in Switzerland, and then in New York City. From there, I moved into public policy design with the Design Trust for Public Space, where we used design to address challenges in the public built environment. We’d ask questions like “How might we make Times Square more pedestrian friendly?” or “How might we make the taxi system more sustainable?” and then put together a team of designers, architects, urban planners and civil servants to develop solutions that were implemented by the city.
In 2009, the Design Trust launched a partnership with the Center for Urban Pedagogy, which asked students to solve a big, messy problem in their community. I was so inspired by the power of using design and place-based learning to engage students in the world outside the classroom that I quit my awesome job in New York and moved back to Canada to become and educator.
For the next 6 years, I taught at Greenwood College, where I developed a unique pedagogical approach for using design as a framework for project-based, place-based learning to engage students in real world problems. This is also when I had the good fortune of becoming a Facilitator in Cohort 21, where I was first able to use design thinking in a professional development program with teachers.
In 2016, I joined the founding team at Future Design School as Director of Professional Development to create programs that would empower thousands of teachers to use design in their classrooms to develop global mindfulness in students. Since then, we have worked with schools all around the world to design strategy, build teacher capacity, and drive student competency development. Now, as Director of Special Projects, I design new programs, products and services to support school leaders and educators to engage students in future-ready learning experiences.
I have been the Global Design Coach for the Google Innovator Program since 2016, where I have worked with inspiring educators on every continent (ok, not Antarctica – yet) to develop innovative solutions to meaningful challenges in education.
I am honoured to be a part of the program this year, and I look forward to connecting with new colleagues and future friends as we learn to better design experiences that prepare young people for an uncertain (a.k.a. exciting) future.