I first met Leslie in 2017 when she joined our non-profit team as a volunteer looking to “make a difference in the lives of kids and families in Hoboken.” For some background, I am co-founder, and current co-president of the Hoboken Public Education Foundation, a non-profit that has been raising private funds for the Hoboken Public District Schools since 2015.
When Leslie first joined HPEF, she had two young kids who had not yet reached kindergarten, but she shared the same vested interest as the rest of our team in helping to make the Hoboken Public Schools the very best they could be.
Leslie immediately left an impression on me as a genuine, honest, and hard-working individual. She showed up every week and actively participated in team calls. Team call agendas included a variety of topics where board member input was solicited in order to capture the ideas and opinions of the entire team – such as team changes, operational needs, events planning and fundraising initiatives. Leslie would respectfully listen to the rest of the team members and hear their opinions and thoughts. Sometimes she would ask for more information to form an opinion, but there was never a call I can remember where Leslie would not voice an opinion. She was not afraid to share a contrarian view even if it meant standing her ground and asking for more time to talk it through. Leslie also understood that knowledge is power and if she felt passionate about a particular topic, she would conduct her own research to back up her position. Leslie is very sensitive to the needs of the broader Hoboken community and would go outside the parent community to cite something she had read in the local or national news and how we might want to consider various interests as we proceeded with our events and fundraising activities.
If asked to use one word that drives Leslie, I would say it’s integrity. Integrity drives every encounter and every decision Leslie makes. As a securities lawyer, it certainly matches the job profile, but moral code is also deeply embedded in Leslie’s approach to everything she does.
As a board member in more recent years, Leslie has felt a strong responsibility to help serve those who may need more. Leslie cares deeply about supporting diversity and equity, and in particular, children with special needs and families of lower income. Every HPEF board member gets to vote on initiatives we fund for the district. Leslie was not afraid to vote “no” on initiatives she didn’t feel furthered academic progress. Orton-Gillingham teacher training was something Leslie proposed and fiercely supported, as a project that would benefit all children learning to read. HPEF funded this initiative this school year for 1/2 of all teachers grades K-2 with the other half planned for next school year.
Currently, Leslie is taking a hiatus from her board member duties to focus on campaign activities. In the event that Leslie is elected to the role of Hoboken BOE, she will immediately step down as board member of HPEF as directed by our by-laws. And while her election to the BOE would leave a big hole to fill within our organization and leadership, I know that there is no one more fit for the role of BOE member.
Leslie will work hand in hand with Dr. Johnson and the rest of the Board of Education to make sure that Hoboken’s children remain central in every decision made. It is their progress, and their successes by which she will measure herself. Please join me in voting for Leslie Norwood for Hoboken Board of Education on November 8th.
Hoboken resident, Proud parent of a 9th grader at Hoboken High School; Co-Founder and Co-President of Hoboken Public Education Foundation (HPEF)