Leslie Dehn has carved out the latest chapter of her career as a perfect blend of applying business skills and staying involved with her family's education.
Dehn took over as executive director of the Elmbrook Education Foundation on July 1. It was natural fit, she said, after having attended EEF Ladies Night functions, volunteered at last year's event and served the Pilgrim Park Middle School PTO as president and vice president.
Even as she takes on her new role, Dehn will serve as co-chairman of the Brookfield East PTO. She said those roles are complementary, emphasizing that the foundation and individual school fundraising efforts can go hand and hand.
"What I learned in my Ladies Nights event experience is that these are phenomenal women who come from all walks of life who have children or have had children in the district," Dehn said. "They are fully committed to supporting the district. I felt a letdown after this last event, but then I knew this position was open."
The job entails a lot of fundraising, a full-time commitment. She said her work can concentrate on widening the organizations' financial support because so much is in place.
"Laura Schmidt (the EEF's previous executive director) was very good at building the structure of the organization," Dehn said. "While she was raising money, Laura also established the record-keeping and other structure that is necessary for an organization like this."
Dehn is concentrating on reaching the $100,000 commitment the EFF made to the district last year to support professional training for the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) program implementation in both middle schools.
"The foundation already raised $67,000 by this past June, so we will concentrate on finishing that and move on," she said.
Dehn is impressed with STEM.
"When I go to schools and talk to parents about STEM, they are very enthusiastic, especially because of what it will mean for their daughters as well as for their sons," she said. "They realize there is so much opportunity for girls to get into engineering and have that option as a career."
Dehn said she also relies on her own children — son Alex, an eighth-grader at Pilgrim Park Middle School, and daughter Megan, a Brookfield East High School sophomore — to see what attracts students. She said Alex reported that the girls who have experienced STEM classes are enthusiastic. Megan has found a renewed interest in high school math because of her teacher's skills.
Likes new administration
"I have been impressed with the district's new administration," Dehn said. "Mark Hansen really knows how to hire. New teachers and administrators have jumped in with both feet. It's exciting to me and I have talked to many people who are thrilled with what he is doing."
EEF Board President David Frank is just as happy to have Dehn directing the organization.
"We are excited about Leslie's passion for our district and her dedication to continually raising the expectations of our education system," Frank said.
History and commitment
Dehn's professional background includes major corporate experience in marketing and business development for Manpower. When she left to spend less time traveling and more time with her family, she continued to work locally, including a teaching stint at Amy Montessori School and in the marketing department at Sorrens Ford.
She said working for the EEF after volunteering there also serves as a life lesson for her children.
"I want to show my kids how you have to give back," she said. "My husband and I are lucky to have the education we have. Giving back is best for your family, your neighbors and your community as a whole."
WHAT: Ladies Night
WHERE: Westmoor Country Club
WHEN: Dec. 2
MORE: Go to ElmbrookEducationFoundation.org or Facebook.com/EEFWI
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