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Michaela Leslie-Rule

Senior Strategist

Michaela has been telling stories for as long as she can remember. First as an actor and choreographer, and later as a social scientist, filmmaker and content producer.

Michaela is honored to have partnered with changemakers and human rights defenders around the world. She is especially proud of the research and communications projects she’s built in sub-Saharan Africa and the American South, and how these projects have built the capacity of marginalized communities to better tell and share their own stories.

She holds Master’s of Public Health and Public Administration from the University of Washington, where she focused on the role of storytelling in global health policy and advocacy. She also earned a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts from New York University.

When not working with clients, Michaela perfects her breaststroke at the YMCA and dreams up adventures on which to take her young son.

Why are you a strategist for good?

“During the height of the AIDS epidemic in the US, I remember overhearing adults rail against a system that let Americans die rather than address its homophobia. Later, I had opportunities to visit with communities impacted by HIV/AIDS in Mexico and South Africa. I was angry that this disease, nearly a chronic condition in the US, was still an untreated epidemic elsewhere – and that these two stories were told in isolation from one another. Political/social-justice narratives often miss opportunities to include the most marginalized voices. I felt that stories were at the center of action and reaction and that I would become a storyteller.”

What’s your superpower?

“I love film, television and plays. The very best films are fueled by well-developed characters. I’ve always been able to talk to anyone, and I have an affinity for engaging in difficult conversations with difficult people. I love learning how people see themselves in the world, and studying how they engage with others. Unable to get a specific stakeholder or community member to tell you what they think? Call me. I’ll get them to talk. And then I’ll make you a movie about it.”

Who is your intellectual crush?

“Chimamanda Adichie”


Tipping Point Community

ITVS Women and Girls Lead Global

David and Lucile Packard Foundation

Astraea Lesbian Foundation

Open Society Foundation: Soros Arts Fellows

Communities United