Meet Our Team
Co-manager of Seven Sisters Community Development Group, Leslie Newman specializes in community development in Native and border communities, focusing on affordable housing, asset building, community development financial institution (CDFI) development, organizational development, and resource development. Her skills include curriculum development, training, technical assistance, and facilitation.
Leslie has over 20 years of experience in community economic development. She has worked as the director of a small nonprofit housing development organization, a trainer, a technical assistance provider, a grant writer, and a reviewer on a federal grant review panel. She has also worked as a trainer and technical assistance provider for the CDFI Fund’s Native CDFI Capacity Building initiatives, including The Leadership Journey I, The Leadership Journey II, and Building Native CDFIs’ Sustainability and Impact. She has served as a reviewer for the Native Asset Building Initiative (NABI), a combined award of Assets for Independence (AFI) and Administration for Native Americans (ANA) funding. Leslie has also developed and teaches courses for NeighborWorks® America, including, “Effective Board Governance for Lending Operations,” and “Developing Successful Partnerships with Native Organizations.”
Leslie began working in community development as a law student, assisting nonprofit organizations in Detroit focusing on affordable housing, income-generating strategies, and neighborhood revitalization. She then worked on the U.S./Mexico border for five years with Proyecto Azteca, a self-help housing program focused on improving living conditions in colonias along the border. Leslie then worked with the U.S. Department of HUD to take the self-help housing model to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, where she assisted the Oglala Sioux Tribe Partnership for Housing in developing their new self-help initiative.
For the past 16 years, Leslie has focused much of her work on asset building in Native communities, concentrating on Native homeownership, CDFI development and the creation and implementation of Individual Development Account (IDA) programs. Over the past three years, she has worked intensively to support the South Dakota Native Homeownership Coalition, which is working to address obstacles to Native homeownership, including access to financing, land and infrastructure issues, and homebuyer readiness. Her work with the Coalition focuses on committee facilitation, event planning, and supporting impact tracking efforts.
Leslie holds a Bachelor of Arts in Asian Studies from Dartmouth College and a Juris Doctor from the University of Michigan Law School. She is fluent in Spanish and Hebrew and has conversational knowledge of French and Arabic.