Leslie Colwell

Leslie Colwell

Leslie believes deeply that community-driven policy change is a critical lever for education transformation. At Transcend, she is a Partner leading our efforts to elevate the voices and insights from school communities directly to policy leaders so that policy can better support effective and enduring innovation in schools.

Prior to joining Transcend in 2023, Leslie spent almost a decade leading policy and advocacy work to improve K-12 education and youth outcomes as the Vice President for Youth Success Initiatives at the Colorado Children’s Campaign. In that role, she built and led diverse coalitions that passed successful legislative initiatives to overhaul the state’s inequitable property tax system that funds education, invest more state dollars in student learning needs and fund full-day kindergarten, improve policies and data collection related to school climate and student discipline, and improve access to school lunches.

Leslie began her career teaching sixth-grade math and earth science at Bethune Middle School in Los Angeles, where she also worked on Teach For America’s national alumni team. She returned to her home state of Colorado to work in the state legislature, where she managed coalition work for legislation such as Colorado’s READ Act and developed and directed the first three years of the Urban Leaders Fellowship, a policy fellowship that has since expanded to multiple regions across the country. Leslie also worked at the Keystone Policy Center, where she initiated and facilitated the first education-focused stakeholder engagement work that Keystone had ever done.

Leslie holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from American University and a teaching credential from the University of California – Los Angeles. She serves on the boards of two Colorado-based non-profits, the Colorado Latino Leadership, Advocacy & Research Organization (CLLARO) and The Civic Canopy. Leslie lives in Denver with her partner, their daughters Maya and Lucia, and pup Pepper.


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Working at Transcend presents you with an opportunity to work with kind, passionate, collaborative, and feedback-driven teammates to reimagine the future of schools. Our teammates partner with schools and leaders to redesign schools and accelerate innovation.

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Transcend is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit that operates nationally.