Deya' Leonard Dresner
Founder - Executive Director

“In order to ensure sustainable success for Palestinian students, I believe we must review and support all the challenges the youth will face, from preparation for an undergraduate education in the US and beyond, all the way to their return home for work. LE•O guides the adjustment to life in a new country and culture, addresses personal difficulties, secures suitable host families, reviews changes in scholarships and identifies beneficial summer internship opportunities" and much more.

Deya’ gained this perspective from years of experience managing key elements of international programs focused on educational opportunities for under-privileged Palestinian youth. Through her grassroots experience, Deya’ knows what works and what doesn’t. She brought this perspective and vision to the creation and mission of LE•O.

In the Leonard family, Deya’, who's mother is from Nazareth, Palestine and father from Tennessee, USA. is the second generation to focus on the education of Palestinian youth. Her father, Dr. Graham Leonard (PhD Harvard University), an educator, worked for the United Nations and universities in the Arab world. This provided Deya’ with a cross cultural understanding of the challenges LE•O scholars face. And, she knows the obstacles students must navigate to be well positioned and receive the full benefits of international educational opportunities. Deya’s primary education was in England. She came to the United States as a freshman at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, and studied linguistics, anthropology and early childhood education.

Her strong relationship, program and teambuilding skills include internship programs, mentoring partners for students, graduate school and job placement support, and most recently Friends of LE•O support groups in the students’ countries of residence. Deya’ has worked closely with over 30 colleges and universities to create sustainable programs to insure a student’s success in future leadership roles and fulfill their true potential.

Deya' currently sits on the selection board of the Takreem Foundation and is a board advisor at Challange2Change


Nancy Hartless

Nancy served as Operations Manager in a program focused on supporting Palestinian youth for many years, multi-tasking the organizations daily operations from student affairs to financial and administrative support for fundraising.With strong institutional memory she is well positioned to support LE•O and applies her broad knowledge to planning and scheduling, business and financial management, with regular interaction with the volunteer members, board members and our student scholars.

Fund Raising is paramount to the long-term success of LE•O. Nancy interfaces with our marketing and development consultants to prepare, proofread and edit brochures and fundraising materials, newsletters and other documents. She provides the financial backup support to reach the organizations goals for the benefit of our student scholars.

"One thing I really like about LEO is that they really give care to the finest details, nothing can ever go unnoticed."
- Mahmoud K.