is a Certified Child Life Specialist. She currently is in the role of Facility Dog Coordinator at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tennessee. She brings with her nearly 30 years of experience as a Certified Child Life Specialist.
Leslie was born and raised in Southern California. Learned about Child Life while an undergraduate at the University of California at Davis, and received her Masters in Child Life and Early Childhood Education from Mills College in Oakland California. Following an internship at University of California San Francisco, Children’s Hospital of Oakland and the University of California at Davis teaching hospitals, she accepted her first professional role as the coordinator for a one-person program at Kaiser Permanente in West Los Angeles, California in 1990.
Seeking growth in a larger program, Leslie moved to Nashville, Tennessee in 1992 and began her service as a Child Life Specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC), where she continued to develop clinical expertise in both the inpatient and outpatient arenas. Her previous experiences have been in the areas of infant toddlers, inpatient surgery, cardiology and orthopedics. While juggling her time in the inpatient areas, Leslie stepped in to lead the pilot program for the pediatric orthopedic clinic in 1996.
In 2000 Leslie was invited to implement child life programming in the diabetes outpatient clinics where she would remain for the next 17 years. During that time, she was a member of the multidisciplinary planning team to co-chair the annual educational Diabetes Family Day for several years.
In 2017 Leslie changed course to move into the perioperative area preparing children and teens for surgery. Medical play was utilized on a daily basis in a variety of ways to meet the fast pace needs in the perioperative areas. Group medical play became the vehicle to begin the play engagement for children to explore, familiarize and express their thoughts and feelings prior to their surgery. It was during that time; Leslie and her colleagues implemented the medical play study.
In February 2020, Leslie assumed a new role as the Facility Dog Coordinator, a new position for the Monroe Carell Jr Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. Her new role, supported by Mars Petcare company-- Better Cities for Pets, includes a Canine Companion for Independence two and a half year old black Labrador, Squid. Leslie provides services to the inpatient units to children, teens, and their families in high medical situations. She will be planning and implementing programming to motivate and inspire patients and families through the presence and interactions of this facility dog.
Leslie has been an active member of ACLP since 1989. She has been a member of the archive’s management group for several years and most recently served as the chair 2018-2020.
Leslie resides in Brentwood, Tennessee with her two adult boys, one in his first year of medical school and the other a junior at Ole Miss. Leslie enjoys an active life outside of work, spending time with her dogs, distance running, hiking and volunteers in her community on the Historic Board Committee.