Featured Colleague: Sally Leslie’s Diverse Background Helps Reshape Valencia’s Professional DevelopmentShare
By Wendy Jo Moyer
Originally from London, Sally Leslie, coordinator, employee development, trained as an English and drama teacher at University College London — Institute of Education. She began teaching in some of the toughest schools in South East London and later moved into higher education in the United Kingdom.
In 2001, she emigrated to the United States, where she taught underserved populations in New York City for 16 years. While still teaching, Sally served as director of institutional effectiveness for DeVry University in New York for six years until moving to Florida and bringing her experiences to Valencia.
In her role at Valencia, Sally plays an integral part of the Employee Development team, coordinating programs and projects that support development, performance, employee recognition and inclusion.
“I’d describe my role as a connector of people, projects and progress, while promoting an environment of inclusive excellence,” Sally explained. “My message is — we are all different versions of one another — this is where we find connection to our colleagues and the work — and, ultimately, to our students.”
Sally’s diverse experiences prior to Valencia provide an excellent foundation for her work of inspiring and training our employees, while encouraging an inclusive environment.
“Sally inspires me with her creativity, insight and a deep commitment to serving all employees,” shared her supervisor, Deanne Abrams, director, employee development. “Our team consistently looks to her because of her background in a broad range of experiences. She is an avid reader and knows something about every topic we discuss, so she hands you the book which can help you explore it further.”
Sally took that book to heart and found her passion in her work, designing and facilitating professional development workshops, coordinating and writing for the Supervisor Segment, Valencia’s supervisor newsletter, and redesigning and planning the Supervisor Summit, an event for Valencia supervisors that provides them the opportunity to learn, explore and discuss the latest tools and resources for their team’s development.
“I think one of the accomplishments I’m most proud of since starting with Valencia in May 2016 are the relationships I’ve been able to form through listening and taking the time to meet people, hear what their needs are and see where we can support their work,” Sally shared. She used that feedback to redesign the Summit, as well as to develop in-house, inclusive excellence programs with her Employee Development colleagues, such as redesigning the Safe Zone workshops.
Since joining the Valencia team, Sally is inspired by her colleagues. “In Employee Development, we are a diverse team in nearly every way you can imagine, and we revel in that diversity — this is the essence of inclusion,” she explained. “This is something that I think many institutions aspire to, yet few truly achieve.”
She also likes the freedom at Valencia to create and the openness of our employees to share and collaborate on ideas. “Being able to link our work to an over-arching strategic plan, which is accessible and formed around care and consciousness is awesome,” she stated.
She added, “So often, I am talking with my partner over dinner, or simply people who live in my neighborhood, and I hear, ‘… that person goes to Valencia’ or ‘… they want to go to Valencia…’ and it makes me so proud. I think people see Valencia as a rigorous institution that is a place to aspire to be; a place that will take you where you want to go and also a place that cares.”
Some fun facts about Sally — she attended the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in England and has also acted in and sung in stage shows in the United Kingdom.
In addition to her Bachelor’s Honors Degree in English from Middlesex University London, she earned a master’s degree in English (20th-century, post-modern literature) from Kingston University London and a post graduate certificate of education: English and drama teaching from the UCL Institute of Education. In her free time, she likes writing, spending time discovering new places, movies, reading, spending time with her family (which includes her partner, her godson and their two elderly dachshunds) and travel.
“My grandmother always said that travel is the best education and — as an educator, I agree.”
Know of someone who embodies one of Valencia’s Values (learning, people, diversity, access or integrity), who has been an employee for one year or more? Send the colleague’s name to us at The_Grove@valenciacollege.edu. He or she might be one of our featured colleagues, subject to supervisor’s approval.