Leslie Gallen, deputy director of Corte Madera’s The Spahr Center, is a 2022 winner of North Bay Business Journal’s Pride Business Leadership Awards.
I have worked for the last 21 years with Marin AIDS Project, now called The Spahr Center. My goal has been to ensure the health and well being of our HIV community.
Prior to working with The Spahr Center I spent many years working with the homeless communities in the Bay Area. Many of them were HIV positive and many passed away in the 1980’s.
What have you learned about your leadership in the last year and how will it change the way you lead going forward?
Over the last couple of years with COVID I believe I have learned that my leadership style has moved toward more of a laissez-faire style. Allowing staff to do the work they do quite well and only becoming involved when I see a need or am requested to be involved. I think this is a good mix of support and supervision going forward.
What is the personal achievement you are most proud of and why?
When I was 60, I decided I needed to do something outside the box for my birthday. I jumped out of an airplane from 15,000 feet. I was scared to death once I got up in the air. However, and it’s big, I was amazed at what I could see, and it felt like I could reach out and touch the clouds. Also, we didn’t crash land.
What are you most proud of regarding the achievements of your organization, your work and/or your community activities when it comes to the Pride movement?
I am truly proud of The Spahr Center merging with Spectrum LGBT Center 6 years ago and developing successful and fulfilling programs for LGBTQ youth and seniors.
TSC has also developed support groups for caregivers of transitioning youth and those who identify as transgender. We have wonderful staff who work with this community and the HIV community.
As a successful professional, what are the biggest obstacles you face what how are you working to overcome them?
Not enough money to pay staff better wages. We continue to participate in Salary Surveys of the Bay Area and continue to fight for money for our staff.