I’m honored to share this special finale interview of Season Five of the Mother’s Quest Podcast. Each season, I invite one person from my inner circle to interview for the finale. And this time, I knew exactly who I wanted to be in conversation with...a mentor and coach who has had a tremendous impact on the person and parent I am today, Leslie Medine.
I’m releasing this episode on December 21st, 2020, on the winter solstice, the darkest day of the year in the northern hemisphere, in honor of a great coach Leslie and I had in common, Edd Conboy, who passed away in March of this year.
In perfect synchronicity, before I recorded the interview, I found an email from Edd written at the solstice 15 years ago, that reminded me that the light we so often seek, especially in our darkest days, resides within ourselves. It’s fitting, because one of Edd’s greatest gifts was to create reflective space, get curious and ask a powerful, illuminating question that would help me, Leslie and so many others find our answers within.
Leslie and I met and worked alongside one another for a decade at a youth organization she founded in Alameda, CA called Alternatives in Action, referred to at the time as the Home Project. It was there that I also came to know and love Edd, as he led us through a practice the staff would do weekly on Fridays that we called Reflection.
Known locally and nationally as an expert in youth development, leadership and empowerment, Leslie created the Home Project and countless other organizations from the ground up in her 50 years of work in the world. She ventured into the education field at the age of 16 as a founding member of the first experimental public high school in New York State. Since 1975, Leslie founded eight schools in the San Francisco Bay Area serving infants through high school students within both the private and public sectors in addition to a Teacher’s College.
In February of 2019, she retired as Executive Director of On The Move, an organization focused on the next generation of emerging leaders throughout California, culminating that chapter of her career through writing and performing an incredibly powerful one-woman show for her community called “To be Continued.”
I hadn’t connected very much with Leslie since seeing her at her show, until I received an email, just as we were preparing to shelter in place last March, informing me that Edd had suffered a massive stroke and was in a coma. A week later, he passed away. But the group of us who had come together via Zoom in honor of Edd, in the midst of the pandemic, began to meet virtually the first Sunday of each month, continuing to share stories about Edd and his impact, and keeping his legacy alive through our reflective practice. We have been meeting ever since.
One of those in our group is Dr. Amanda Kruger Hill, a youth alum of the Home Project, and now the Executive Director of the Cowen Institute and a Professor at Tulane University, who brings us this episode’s dedication.
In the dedication, Amanda shares beautifully the impact that Leslie has had in her life and frames the themes of the conversation to come. As Leslie and I discuss, “to do great work in the world, you must be known and know others.” I’m so grateful to know Amanda, to know Leslie and the principles, practices and stories that she weaves together in this episode, and to know Edd, who continues to light the way for us, and remind us how to strive for greatness, even now.
A final note about this episode. You’ll notice it’s longer than my usual ones and I also hope you’ll find tremendous value in listening. I decided there was no part I wanted to cut and also that I wanted to give you the opportunity to listen to it in its entirety, rather than releasing in two parts. So, if you have more time, find a cozy spot and a cup of tea and settle in. Or if you are more limited in your time, listen for some while, and then press