Judith Leonard has always been interested in non-profit organizations, even before she became a lawyer. In addition to working as a government lawyer, she worked in-house at the University of North Carolina before her current job as vice president for legal affairs and general counsel at The University of Arizona.
In June, she moves on to her newest appointment, as general counsel of the Smithsonian Institution, where she will manage the 17-person legal department, coordinate litigation with the Department of Justice and represent the institution in administrative proceedings.
“The Smithsonian is an amazing institution,” Leonard says.
It’s the perfect place for Leonard, who has long had a passion for education and public institutions.
She attended law school at the University of North Carolina thinking she would work in education law or policymaking, but as far as her specific jobs since school go, she says she has always “taken opportunities as they present themselves, rather than plan it out.”
In addition to working at her alma mater and in Arizona academia, she worked in the Arizona Attorney General’s office and the U.S. Department of Education, and later was general counsel of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.
When she’s not working, Leonard enjoys non-fiction, cooking and dance and theater performances. She is lucky enough to find satisfaction in her work as well, and she is glad to stay in the research world, where the people around her are part of cutting edge projects.
“Working in research institutions is extremely stimulating,” she says. “The challenges are superb.”