Senior Project Specialist, Field Projects
Leslie's early interests were in literature and language, along with an appreciation of the outdoors. She was born and raised in Denver, where her summers included hiking, rafting, rock climbing, and survival camp.
A trip to Europe led by her high school art history teacher exposed Leslie to European culture, influencing her decision to major in art history and German when she started at Bowdoin College in Maine in 1978. After spending her junior year in Munich, she returned to Bowdoin, where a museum studies class led her after graduation to a summer internship in the frame conservation lab at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. She loved the hands-on aspect of the work and decided on conservation as a profession. Looking back, she feels that she inherited some of the skills used in conservation from her father, a surgeon, and her mother, an artist.
An ICOMOS internship in France was followed by two years in a small village outside Avignon, teaching English and working in a gallery. She also studied at the Lacoste School of the Arts and did an internship at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice.
Returning home for internships at the Metropolitan Museum in New York and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Leslie concluded that her interests lay in the conservation of architectural finishes, and she enrolled in an architectural artisanry program in Massachusetts, completing it in 1987. The next few years were spent between Boston and France, where she worked on wall paintings conservation projects. She spent 1990 in Rome at ICCROM, earning a certificate in mural paintings conservation, and at CRATerre-EAG, training in earthen architecture preservation—a course of study ultimately incorporated into the master's degree in conservation of architectural finishes that she earned from Antioch University in Ohio.
In 1993 she consulted on the GCI's project to conserve historic bas-reliefs at the Royal Palaces of Abomey. From 1995 to 1997 she was a GCI senior research fellow while working on the project. She then returned to private practice, continuing to consult on GCI projects. In 1998–99, she was a fellow at the American Academy in Rome.
In 2002 Leslie returned to the GCI to work on projects in China, Africa, and Los Angeles. Currently she is conducting research on grouts and helping to organize a conference in Mali on earthen architecture. She still enjoys fieldwork and her collaboration with colleagues in science and conservation. That particularly includes Arlen Heginbotham, a decorative arts conservator at the Getty Museum, whom Leslie met at the Getty. He is now her husband.