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Leslie Payne

Initiative Director

Leslie Payne joined The James Irvine Foundation in 2016 as a Senior Program Officer and was named Initiative Director in July 2021. Leslie leads Irvine’s Better Careers initiative, which focuses on readiness for and access to middle wage jobs. Prior to her work on Better Careers, Leslie led the culmination of Irvine’s Elections Policies and Practices work as well as the Arts Engagement program. She was also a part of the Foundation’s Fair Work initiative pilot, Strategic Partnerships team, and Research and Development team.

Prior to Irvine, Leslie held a variety of roles in mission-driven organizations in the private and independent sectors, specializing in strategy, innovation, and partnerships. She serves on the board of Innovate Work Labs and Telescope. She has almost two decades of experience helping organizations learn, adapt, and grow to find effective ways of meeting complicated challenges.

Leslie received her BA from the University of California, Berkeley and MBA from Georgetown University.