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Leslie Knox ’97 seems to always follow her heart and is ready to jump at the next opportunity to better the world around her. I asked her why she joined The Harley School in 10th grade and she said, “My mom discovered I was teaching my 9th grade social studies class at my former school.” It turns out that Leslie’s social studies teacher was not doing much in the way of teaching, so Leslie, who read her beloved National Geographic magazines cover-to-cover, took over and taught the class on occasion. After attending Harley, she says she has benefited career-wise with writing guidance from Alex DeSantis and that she uses the wonderful writing foundation and teachings quite often. 
After she graduated from Harley, she decided to go to Kalamazoo College. When I asked her if it was because of a particular major they offered she said, “No. They had a wonderful study abroad program and a well-regarded humanities department. I could travel and study while graduating in 4 years.” She appreciates new places and new people. Her family moved around a lot so this is what she was used to. Leslie leveraged the college study abroad program to her full advantage. She studied in Japan for six months during her junior year. The summer between her junior and senior year, she traveled to Kenya where she worked on her senior thesis: The study of organizations created due to the problem of poverty.
Following her time at Kalamazoo, she worked for 15 years doing community outreach and social service with Americorps, Catholic Family Services, Thresholds and the University of Rochester, focusing much of her time on co-morbid, forensic mental health for the homeless, felons, and the elderly. She went back to school for a Master’s degree in Business Adminstration at the Simon School at the University of Rochester with a concentration in medical management. She is now focusing her time on urban farming and is currently the Director of Farm Operations and a Board Member at Taproot Collective, a nonprofit organization formed to help implement models of resilient local food systems. They have recently opened up First Market located near Rochester’s Public Market. First Market will be a place where the community can learn about, and acquire fresh food, while in a safe space. It’s an opportunity to create beauty while practically addressing several community concerns including quality food access, self-sufficiency, youth empowerment and infrastructure. You can often find Leslie, her husband, and daughter, Myree (3) working in the garden on the weekends. She also takes on a leadership role in community activism through additional board involvement with the Friends of the Rochester Public Market and the Police Training Advisory Council. Leslie strives to be the change she wants to see, after all, becoming what thou art can be a lifelong, evolving process. There’s no reason not to enjoy the journey.