Deya' Leonard Dresner

Founder and Executive Director Leonard Education Organization, USA


“In order to ensure sustainable success for the students, I believe that one must review and support all the challenges the youth will face, from preparation for an American undergraduate education all the way to their return home for work. Encompassing college preparation, life adjustment in a new country and culture, addressing personal difficulties, securing suitable host families, negotiating scholarships and identifying beneficial summer internship opportunities for LE•O scholars.”

Deya’ gained this perspective from years of experience managing key elements of international programs focused on educational opportunities for marginalized Palestinian youth. She served as Director of Donor Relations for AMIDEAST, USA and as the Director of Development and Student Relations for The Hope Fund and worked closely with the students themselves to better understand the challenges they faced when pursuing higher educational opportunities. Through her grassroots experience, Deya’ knows what works and what doesn’t. She brought this perspective and vision to the creation and mission of LE•O. She has worked closely with over 30 American colleges and universities to create sustainable programs to ensure a student’s success in future leadership roles and fulfill their true potential.

In the Leonard family, Deya’ whose mother is from Nazareth and father from Tennessee is the second generation to focus on the education of Palestinian youth. Her father, Dr. Graham Leonard, (PhD Harvard University) was an educator in the Middle East. This provided Deya’ with a cross-cultural understanding of the challenges LE•O scholars face. And, she knows the obstacles students must navigate to be well positioned and receive the full benefits of American educational opportunities.  Deya’ spent her childhood in Lebanon, her primary education was in England. She came to the United States as a freshman at Hampshire College, Massachusetts and studied linguistics and education.

She joined the Challenge to Change Big Sister Little Sister initiative as a Big Sister at its inception and continues to be a strong supporter of the program.

Deya’ resides in NJ with her husband Dr. Bradic, has a son with her late husband, two stepdaughters and two grandchildren and counting!