Leslie, the former chairman of Weber Shandwick, a global public relations firm, and former chair of the Duke Global Health Institute’s Board of Advisors, will work across DGHI, the Margolis Center and the Duke Global Health Innovation Center to design a new initiative to build trust in public health. Leslie has deep experience in development, humanitarian assistance and global health. President Barack Obama appointed him as chairman of the U.S. African Development Foundation in 2009, following six years of service on the board. He is the chair of the board of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation and a member of the board of directors of Water.Org, in addition to several other board roles. He began his career in Washington, D.C., serving as a legislative assistant to Sen. Edward M. Kennedy and has provided political counsel to presidential and statewide campaigns in the United States, Latin America, Africa and Asia.
In his role at Duke-Margolis, Leslie will build from work he began at The Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center Residency to understand the crisis of trust in public health, which has been building for decades. A convening of global public health stakeholders, led by Leslie and colleagues from Duke in November 2022, identified and prioritized specific actions that hold promise to enhance trust with a focus on communities, communication, and competence. These focus areas will serve as the building blocks for a larger global initiative to strengthen trust in public health.