Leslie Reid was born into a family of two: It was her and her mother, alone in New York, in need of better prospects. Reid spent time in foster care while her mother went to find them a home. Her family grew exponentially when she rejoined her mother, who had found work in Boston with a community of social workers. They’d started an organization for homeless youth, Reid says, and they lived together and worked together, providing shelter and services.
Reid grew up with mentors and inspiration. “I was raised in the collective,” she says. “It was about home and defining home; it was about families of choice, not families of origin. That was all in my DNA.”
She went to college and graduated with a degree in African American Studies. She also graduated with student loan debt. “I couldn’t eat African-American literature,” she quips, so, she took a job with the best pay and benefits she could find, at a community development corporation. People were willing to teach her. And she was more than willing to learn. She felt a spark. As she grew in knowledge and confidence, her interest brought her to Madison Park Development Corporation, located in the center of Boston and at the heart of Boston’s Black community.