A B O U T L E S L I E
Leslie was raised by a single mother after her father was killed in a car accident when she was eleven. She learned from an early age to be self-reliant and to navigate life in unconventional ways.
Now, Leslie is ready to represent you. Her education and experience equip her to tackle some of our most pressing needs with firsthand knowledge. She understands the challenges and constant pressure that families in New Hanover County face every day. Leslie will work tirelessly to save our hospital, protect our green spaces and wetlands, improve our infrastructure and reduce traffic, and most importantly – to make out county government open, accessible, and transparent.
Leslie is fortunate to have enjoyed a vibrant and robust education, despite not obtaining her bachelor’s degree. In addition to more traditional curriculum in high school, she learned typography, layout techniques, commercial printing and design skills. Leslie entered Emory University after 10th grade through their early enrollment program and continued her undergraduate studies for 4 years, attending University of Georgia, Georgia State University, and Emory University, gaining a world-class education that set her up for success for the rest of her life.
As she neared the completion of her college education, Leslie and her husband Jeff were blessed to find out they were having a baby. The best thing for their family was for them to start a business to support their newest little Cohen.
A strong believer in the value of a good education, Leslie is very grateful for the education that she received, even though she did not receive her degree. But she also believes that we need to address the ways in which women are not fully supported in schools, in the workplace, and in society in general. For most of us, trying to balance school, work, and a family can be difficult or even impossible. Many women find themselves having to make difficult choices about their own lives in order to improve those of their families. Many people share a similar path to Leslie’s – roughly 68 percent of Americans older than 25 do not have a bachelor’s degree.
Career and Family
Owning a small business is the American dream and Leslie knew from an early age that she wanted to work for herself. She and Jeff took the skills they had gained working in the graphics and printing industry to start their own small printing business. But like the majority of small family businesses, this first attempt did not succeed. Undaunted, Leslie and her husband embarked on a second venture, this time a successful commercial graphics firm. They designed collateral advertising for Fortune 500 companies for twelve years before transitioning their business to fine art in 2002. Leslie’s paintings are now featured in collections across the globe.
While running a successful business and raising a family, Leslie still found time to volunteer in her community and to work on issues she cares about. She found it important to teach her children that each of us has a responsibility to help those around us and to stand up for their beliefs.
Coming To Wilmington
In 2013, after her two children each moved from the family’s suburban Atlanta home, Leslie moved to Wilmington with her husband of 34 years, Jeff. The family has long ties to the area as Jeff’s grandfather built a summer home in Carolina Beach in 1933. That cottage is still the family summer gathering place.
Leslie became involved in local issues here when the passage of HB2 threatened the rights of their adult children. Her activism quickly spread into other issues as she became aware of the struggles of others in her community.
Running For Office
Running for office was not something that Leslie had ever expected to do. But in 2018, when she was encouraged to run by community leaders, she decided to take up the mantle of public service. She won a hotly-contested primary race and came very close to winning the general election in a district that was once considered unwinnable by a Democrat.As the 2020 election cycle began and attention turned to the possible sale of New Hanover Regional Medical Center, Leslie realized that the overarching problems in Raleigh (that elected officials either don’t know or don’t care that their actions affect the lives of actual people) is as much a problem in the New Hanover County Commission as it is at the State House. When the new House District maps made it impossible for her to run again in District 20, Leslie threw her support behind Marcia Morgan for District 19 and set her sites on County Commission.
Leslie will bring her bold entrepreneurial spirit, creative problem solving, passion for justice and equality, and compassion for others to the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners. We need leaders who understand and reflect the values of the people they represent. Leslie is here to stand with parents, grandparents, and caregivers of all kinds. With your help, we can take New Hanover into a bright and sustainable future.