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Welcome to episode 34 of the Today is the Day Changemakers Podcast. This week my guest is Leslie Morris, Founder & CEO, Women of the Dream.

Leslie grew up in public housing in Long Branch, NJ. Leslie excelled in school. Her mom was a constant support on her academic successes. She did have a bout of trouble during the time she was dealing with her parents separation. She wound up in a gang fight and in front of a judge who said some incredible words that stuck with her. Leslie went on to get a full ride to Simmons College, now called Simmons University. Listen in to hear more about the moment she was called down to the office to talk to the Simmons College recruiter. It was lifechanging!

Leslie has spent most of her career in community-based health care at the local, statewide and national levels. In 1987 she developed and implemented the first comprehensive school-based health center in the state of New Jersey. Under the auspices of the Jersey City Medical Center and Jersey City Family Health Center, Leslie served as director of the school-based health center for 12 years.

She was then called to work on a national level at the National Association of Community Health Centers in Washington, There she served for five years as director of the Adolescent and School Health Initiative funded by the Centers for Disease Control.

Leslie then came back to work in New Jersey, at New Jersey Primary Care Association in Hamilton.

In 2007, Leslie released her first book entitled, “How Ya Like Me Now!” which is an inspirational autobiography that provides vivid snapshots into her life’s journey as a child growing up in public housing in Long Branch, NJ. Leslie has used the book as a platform to inspire and motivate young people.

Leslie launched Women of the Dream in 2012 in partnership with Campbell Soup Company under the leadership of then President and CEO Denise Morrison. She convened 32 Black women graduates of Simmons College, a private women’s college in Boston and her alma mater, for a focus group that involved guided discussions on where they began in life, their experiences at a women’s college during the Civil Rights movement, their personal and career challenges and successes, and how their stories can be used to guide a new generation of girls of color. Two years later, in June 2014, Women of the Dream joined the cadre of nonprofit organizations dedicated to improving the lives of girls and young women in underserved areas.

Leslie is the recipient of numerous awards, has appeared on NBC, FOX, and CBS, and featured in print media. She had the opportunity to share information about Women of the Dream with the amazing Oprah Winfrey at one of Oprah's events.

Listen in to hear Leslie's answer to the question, 'if I knew then what I know now'.

Next week my guest is Chrissy Buteas, Chief Government Affairs Officer, New Jersey Business & Industry Association (NJBIA). Chrissy shares her professional journey and how her and her team advocate every day for businesses across the Garden State.

Please also subscribe to the Today is the Day Changemakers YouTube Channel. Like us on FB and Instagram at Today is the Day Live it. Also go to for more information about how I help my clients connect, collaborate, create, and inspire. I am also the CEO and Co-founder of the Zzak G. Applaud Our Kids Foundation, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping children living with financial barriers take ongoing lessons in dance, acting, instrumental music, and vocal instruction. Visit for more information.

Have a great week everyone!
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