Liesel Stanhope is our second alumni spotlight for April; a graduate of Chamblee High School (1998), of Duke University (2002), and of American University Washington College of Law (2011). She previously served in the U.S. Navy as a Surface Warfare Officer (Nuke) in Japan for five years and is currently a practicing attorney. Liesel is a member of the inaugural 21st Century Leaders Junior Board of Directors and when asked why she wanted to serve on the Junior Board she says: “I really enjoyed this program and have very fond memories. I met so many people who were different than me and led different lives than me and now (20 years later) I think that this may have been one of the most valuable parts of my education”.

Paint a brief picture of what you are doing now:
I work remotely as an attorney negotiating contracts between private equity firms. This is an amazing position for me because my husband is in the Navy and not only does this allow me to take my work with me when we move, but it allows me to spend more time with my kids while they are small and have time to spend theirs with me.

How did participating in 21CL transform you and lead you to where you are now?
I have had an unusual career path and looking back I think that the most important thing I gained from 21CL was the awareness that there are different types of leadership styles for different people and for different situations. I went to college on an ROTC scholarship and was commissioned as an officer in the Navy when I graduated. As a division officer on a forward deployed guided missile cruiser, less than a year out of college, I was responsible for the maintenance and deployment of the missiles on the ship. I didn’t fit into the mold of a typical naval officer and my time with 21CL allowed me to confidently forge my own leadership style in this challenging real world environment.

Which programs did you participate in, and when? What skills did you gain or improve through those programs?
(said in an old geezer’s voice) There was only one program when I went to 21CL! (back to my normal voice) In addition to an awareness of different types of leadership styles I really enjoyed meeting a diverse group of kids from across Georgia. I was also always really impressed with the involvement of business leaders in the program. Now that I am a working parent I understand how important time is and the time that the members of Atlanta’s business community put into the program reminds me that it does take a village to raise kids and I try to live up to the standard that those leaders set.

What was a memorable or ‘aha’ moment in 21CL
I have many fond memories of 21CL, but I can’t think of an aha! moment. I enjoyed every camp that I attended, but it was hard for me to realize the importance of what I learned there until I was faced with my own leadership challenges. I think that this awareness also allowed me to figure out what successful (and not so successful) leaders were doing around me.