Leslie Ann Howard, MSSW ’79, Our 2024 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient

Leslie Howard sitting with her arms crossed, smiling, wearing a black shirt. We are pleased to announce that the Sandra Rosenbaum School of Social Work’s Board of Visitors has named Leslie Ann Howard as our 2024 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient. Leslie was President and CEO of the United Way of Dane County for 26 years and then served as a Senior Advisor to the CEO of United Way Worldwide for five years.

During her time at United Way Dane County, Leslie transformed the organization from primarily a grant maker to an organization that tackles community issues ‘at scale,’ working with the private sector, government, and nonprofits to develop strategic initiatives and measure outcomes of the work. In 2000, the United Way of Dane County created its Agenda for Change, a series of seven targeted goals focused on measuring and creating significant impact in the areas of education, safety, and health. This impact model, first created here in Dane County, was a catalyst for other United Ways nationally to make similar changes in their programs.

An advocate for collaboration and change, Leslie has focused her efforts on early childhood; education; safety; health; ending family homelessness; and racial justice issues. Leslie also led the Schools of Hope Initiative, which focuses on closing the racial achievement gap in public schools.

Leslie has served on numerous boards, including the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago, Madison Area Technical College, the Community Action Coalition, and The Nature Conservancy-Wisconsin Chapter. She is currently serving on the Board of American Family Insurance Group.

Leslie taught courses at the La Follette School of Public Affairs at UW-Madison for 20 years and currently serves on their Board of Visitors.