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LesLeigh D. Ford is a policy associate in the Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy at the Urban Institute.

Before joining Urban, Ford held several positions focused on improving educational equity in urban schools and school districts. Ford taught elementary and middle school in Detroit and was a program manager for the School Turnaround Group at Mass Insight Education in Boston. Ford also completed an Executive Office fellowship at The Kresge Foundation in Detroit.

Ford is a recent graduate of Duke University and was awarded the Dean’s Graduate Fellowship, a Kenan Institute of Ethics Graduate Fellowship, and the Education and Human Development at the Social Science Research Institute fellowship. Her research focused on race, class, the family, inequality, and opportunity. Her dissertation project examined the romantic partnering experiences of middle-class black women in the United States. Her prior research explored the associations between race and returns to education in early adulthood and maternal mental health, social stressors, and children’s internalizing and externalizing behaviors.

Ford holds a BA in English and political science from the University of Michigan, an MEd in education policy and management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and a PhD in sociology from Duke University.