“When I close my eyes, I can still hear my grandmother’s laughter. It’s sounds like Jingle-bells and the crackle of a fire all at once. She became a mother to many throughout her extraordinary life. Through that motherhood, she brought people to together, brought Leslie and I together. As matriarch of the Owl House, everything I learned about being human and being a Łingít woman was based in the ancestry I inherited from her… the bloodline of the Owl House. Leslie asked me to sketch a logo that represents what drives her narrative. The Owl represents the ancestry and the wisdom of intergenerational teachings. My grandmother continues to guide both of us to this day in spirit after her passing. She illuminates our path. Traces of her spirit laughter visit in the echo of jingle bells and the crackle of a fire.”
~Maka Monture of the Yéil Naa (Raven Moeity), K’ineix Kwáan (people of the Copper River Clan) from the Tsisk’w Hit (Owl House).
At twenty, Leslie had white water rafted, spelunked, hiked, and ridden on horseback through nearly all the national parks in the United States and Canada when both her mother and eighteen-year-old brother die from hepatitis B. She is currently writing a memoir about the years that followed their death and how she turned to the natural world and the indigenous people most intimate to these places for answers.
Born in the United States to Chinese immigrants, raised by a photographer, then adopted by the Navajo Táchii’nii or Red Running into Water People Clan and the Tlingit Yéil Naa (Raven Moeity), K’ineix Kwáan (people of the Copper River Clan) from the Tsisk’w Hit (Owl House), Leslie brings a unique perspective to her stories and photos. She has photographed whales from a helicopter (and flown one), kayaked into a melting ice cave in Iceland, glacier-hiked and paraglided in the Alps, ice-climbed in Alaska, combat fished with bears, and been invited to ceremonies or sacrfed landscapes that are not open to outsiders. Her education in biology, ethnobotany, public health from Harvard University, and a MFA allows her to move freely from academic to commercial endeavors, while contributing to literary works and traditional travel magazines.
Leslie’s work has been named among the distinguished stories of the year by Best American Essays. She is a Champion of Change for the White House in Asian American and Pacific Islander Storytelling and Art, a Schweitzer Fellow for Life, and the Outdoor Editor for Panorama: The Journal of Intelligent Travel. REI, NonfictioNOW, Kendal Mountain Film Festival are some of the conferences and brands which have invited her to speak around the world on getting the kids outdoors, writing from a multicultural perspective, travel writing and writing about place.
Her award-winning work has appeared or is forthcoming in several anthologies, Alpinist, Alaska Magazine, Backpacker Magazine, Conde Nast Traveler, First Alaskans Magazine, Fourth Genre, MIC, Outside Magazine, Parenting Magazine, Smithsonian Magazine, Sierra Magazine, Travel + Leisure, Washington Post and more.
Renowned for extreme sports, adventure travel, and exploration with young kids, she’s written about her 10-month-old snowmobiling in Iceland (story published in Conde Nast Traveler). Her kids started snowboarding as soon as they learned how to walk (story published in Washington Post) and rock climbed at the age of two (story published in Alpinist Magazine). When her son was two and oldest daughter was five, a tour operator in Alaska outfitted both of them with crampons and they hiked a glacier in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park (story published in Backpacker). Now they are 9 and 12 and a few months ago both of them flew a helicopter (this story is forthcoming in Outside Magazine).
Editors hire her as a “veteran reporter” for 25 years of experience working under publication deadlines for magazines, journals, reports, newsletters, web sites, and blogs; on-time delivery of written and photographic content highly complimented by producers and editors; track record of producing and editing award-winning, innovative, respected products; reputation for being the most productive and calm personnel under pressure.
Losing her mother and brother to hepatitis B at the age of twenty-one inspired her to found the Hepatitis B Initiative in 1997, which she later expanded to the Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. area with Thomas Oh. Today, this award-winning nonprofit continues to operate in several states offering free hepatitis B, hepatitis C, cholesterol, glucose screenings, and flu vaccinations to these communities: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burmese, Cambodian, Cameroon, Chinese, Egyptians, Ethiopian, Filipino, Ghanaian, Hmong, Indian, Indonesian, Korean, Laotian, Mongolian, Moroccan, Nepalese, Nigerian, Pakistani, Saudi Arabian, Sierra Leone, Somalian, Sudan, Syrian, Taiwanese, Thai, Vietnamese, and more.