Name: Leslie D. Hall, MSW
Profession: Macro Social Worker
One Word That Describes You: Bold
What does being one of the BE Modern Man 100 Honorees mean to you?
Being selected as one of the BE Modern Man 100 Honorees is an incredible honor. I am most humbled by the opportunity to be affiliated with the Black Enterprise brand all the while being recognized for the work that I and my fellow honorees are engaged in.
What are you doing as a BEMM to help support Black male achievement now or in the future?
As the associate director of the HBCU Program, I strive every day to support Black males across all identities at HBCUs. It is important that I amplify and bring a voice to all aspects of manhood and masculinity so that we are grooming well-balanced leaders who are healthy both mentally and emotionally.
What are some examples of how you turned struggle into success?
I was raised by my grandparents because, at the time, my parents were unable to care for me. While my upbringing and childhood were filled with love and care, I often reminisced about what it would’ve been like growing up with a mom and dad in the house. For a long time, this affected me. Now, with both parents recovered and living happy lives, I have been able to learn from their mistakes and make positive decisions for my life and for the family I will have in the future.
What is your “Extraordinary Impact?”
I have the great fortune to be able to work within and for a community that has provided so much to me: HBCUs. Each day, I am able to advance policies that are equitable and that promote equality, safety, and inclusion for LGBTQ people in HBCU spaces. As the associate director of the HBCU Program at the Human Rights Campaign, I am able to make profound impact through two distinct points of entry. The first is by working primarily with HBCU presidents and senior administrators on campuses to ensure that university policies are inclusive and protect LGBTQ students and staff on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. The second is our annual HBCU Leadership Summit, our flagship leadership development program specifically for LGBTQ HBCU student leaders. On any given day, I am consulting with a university president as they enact widespread culture change on their campuses or coaching student leaders through everyday dilemmas, questions, and challenges of leadership.
What is an important quality you look for in your relationships with others?
In relationships with others I look for genuine honesty and loyalty.
What are some immediate projects you are working on?
Currently, I am working on two major initiatives. First, at the Human Rights Campaign, we are building a national seal of recognition for HBCUs that meet key benchmarks of LGBTQ-inclusive policies and practices. In addition to the seal of excellence, I have just established The Common Bond Institute (CBI). The CBI is designed to foster an intentionally and radically inclusive community to exchange big ideas and create systems of liberation that will address our society’s most complex problems. The institute brings together a dynamic cohort of black and brown LGBTQ people.
What is the best advice you ever received?
I have “two” best pieces of advice: When opportunities present themselves, say yes and figure everything else out later. Do not be afraid of challenges; your crown has already been paid for, put it on your head and wear it.
What is some advice you have for other men who want to make a difference?
My advice to other men who want to make a difference is to first, show up! There is magnificent power in us just showing up and being present. After you show up, then we need you to do the work. You get to determine what “the work” looks like; just do something or get out the way.
How do you prep for an important business meeting and/or event?
Most often, I listen to jazz before meetings and big events. It helps to center and calm my spirit and provides clarity.
As a busy Modern Man, how do you unwind on vacation?
On vacation, I like to devote a significant amount of time for self-reflection and visioning forward. Some of my best ideas come when I am away from home on a quiet respite.
If you could travel and stay anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
If I could travel and stay anywhere in the world it would have to be Cape Town, South Africa. I loved my time spent in Cape Town a few years ago. I feel so drawn to their history, culture, and community. The South African countryside is most spectacular and views from the mountain is unlike any other.
Anything else you’d like to say?
“God can dream a bigger dream for you, bigger than anything you can dream for yourself.”
It’s our normal to be extraordinary. Follow @BEModernMan and join the conversation using #BEModernMan.
Come celebrate the BE Modern Man 100 Men of Distinction at the 2nd Annual Black Men XCEL, Aug. 29–Sept. 2, 2018, at PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.