Melissa Leitman

MPA - 2013

Partnership Coordinator, Transforming New York City Public Schools

Leitman joined PENCIL’s staff right after graduating from Wagner in 2006 as the Partnership Coordinator for Brooklyn and Staten Island. She works with close to two hundred schools, matching them with leaders from the business world according to their needs and shared interests. Once partnerships are established she helps principals and their business partners work together to set goals and carry them out over the course of the school year. Partners work with schools on projects such as creating career awareness opportunities for students, increasing parent involvement and developing leadership skills with the principal and the school staff. For example, Leitman says, “we work with Martha Stewart Living magazine and they are helping their high school publish a magazine from start to finish. Not only does this give students a chance to learn about careers in journalism, but by the end of the school year, students will be able to add an incredible experience to their college application.” Leitman enjoys getting to know different principals with various leadership styles and matching them with business leaders from all walks of life. As everyone comes to PENCIL for different reasons, she finds it challenging yet exciting to figure out how best to build partnerships that will have a lasting fit. She also enjoys watching the organization expand. “We’re sort of in our adolescent stage of development” she says and explains that the organization is growing at a rapid rate.

At times, the growing pains seem strong. Leitman points out that the waiting list of schools that would like a partnership with a business is long. Nevertheless, while meeting the high demand from schools requires great effort, Leitman is up to the challenge. Her passion for her work drives her dedication to the organization.