Leigh has been writing for a very long time. A letter she wrote to her grandmother, at age nine, began her journey in and through the Texas foster care system. During her nine years and more than 20 placements, she experienced shelters, foster homes, kinship care, adoptive homes, respite care, hospitalization, residential treatment and group care. So many people and so many places; through it all Leigh kept writing.
At 18, Leigh understood that she wanted to help herself, and somehow to help other people, and so she spent six years earning her bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin. F’s in Biology and Modern Greek, along with a passion for volunteering led to the field of social work. A year out of college, Leigh was providing case management for young people transitioning out of foster care. Though she loved the work, maintaining ‘appropriate boundaries’ proved to be exhausting and so she shifted her focus to a bigger picture of child welfare and moved into middle-management and administration. In this capacity Leigh developed an infiltrator’s understanding of ‘the system’. She learned about finance, distributed-team facilitation and organizational politics.
At 28, Leigh understood that she wanted to help herself, and somehow to help other people, and so she spent two and a half years earning her master’s degree in social work. As part of her degree, Leigh spent time in a Lakota community, listening, recording and transcribing other people’s stories. She learned about racism, endurance and tribal politics. Through it all Leigh kept writing. She kept writing and began to understand her own story, but in a different way.
At 36, Leigh understood that she wanted to help herself, and somehow to help other people, and so she spent a year writing a book with a team of seven people, from seven different states. Aside from marriage, motherhood and growing up in foster care, she swears it’s the hardest thing she’s ever done. So, naturally, she wants to do it again.
Leigh believes that one way to find our collective voice is through sharing our individual stories, even the messy stuff, and so she continues to work on and blog about the making of Foster Princess, her memoir about a privileged life in and just out of foster care. http://leigh.ecke.ws