At 22 years old, Leeds Chamberlain ’64 “risked moving to the West Coast knowing no one and having no job,” ultimately working as a temp until she found a job she liked. She married an American-born Filipino and learned more about what it was like to be part of a minority group and had two children. Then, 10 years after graduating from Garrison, she went to college and graduate school and loved it. Leeds eventually found her niche in process and project management. At 53, she trekked the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal. Over a series of years, she completed her PSIA (Professional Ski Instructors of America) Level III Alpine Ski Certification. Leeds was chosen to be one of the first four women in the Pacific Northwest to be a Divisional Clinic Leader. (Divisional Clinic Leaders train other clinic instructors how to teach, and clinic instructors teach ski instructors how to teach the public.)

Q: What is one obstacle you encountered in your career? How did you overcome it?
Realizing that my area of study was not going to support my global views or my family. Finding a career was difficult. I tried many different work-from-home entrepreneurial jobs; however, I was too social to work alone. I asked the advice of an elderly businessman what he thought would be the best work environment for someone who was a visual learner and not good at doing repetitive work. He recommended smaller entrepreneurial companies. I followed his advice: Find out what you do well and how you learn.

Q: What were the highlights of your career?
Being part of three small entrepreneurial companies from inception to national and international recognition. Selling and advertising specialty items like Flippy Flyers (nylon Frisbees), selling and marketing Zoo Shoes (kid’s shoes with zoo animal faces on the toes and animal footprints on the soles) and being the 265th employee of Wizards of the Coast (WotC)—the company that created the competitive card game, Magic: The Gathering—were some highlights. At WotC, I learned I was a natural at process and project management. Over 19 years, I did any job which refined the process of designing, localizing, printing and releasing a new set of Magic cards worldwide simultaneously. I had the immense task of developing the plan and then leading the final operational process for the sale of WotC to Hasbro. Today, Magic brings more revenue to Hasbro than even Monopoly!

At WotC, I learned, first: if you put your idea on the table and allow your team to add and modify that idea, your team almost always ends up with a better idea. Second, if you don't have the answer to a personal or business problem, be patient and trust the Universe because in time the Universe will provide the answer. 

Q: What lesson or experience from your time at Garrison still resonates with you?
As Dark Captain, I learned I could lead and inspire. When Kennedy was shot, Mr. Montgomery had the entire school come to the gym. Students, teachers and staff (who were mostly staff of color) were present. Two things came to light that day. First, I realized the majority of the "help" were people of color, and second, despite any differences, we were all feeling the same pain. 

Q: If you could give a graduating Senior one piece of advice, what would it be?
TRAVEL. Take a year to travel to a developing nation before going on to study at college or university. Get out of the United States and keep an open mind to learn "how different cultures do the same things you do, but differently." Become aware of your learning style and learn something new every day. 

Q: What are you looking forward to?
A continued healthy life. Learning something new every day. Enjoying my two children and their children. I am blessed that we all live in Seattle. Traveling more outside the USA and continuing to get better at speaking both French and Spanish. Working more at the Washington State Ski and Snowboard Museum, where I finally used my museology degree as a project manager prior to its opening. I also look forward to meeting up with my GFS classmates at various places in the USA to share what we are up to. To my surprise, the classmates I found the most intimidating have turned out to be the most interesting. I will make every effort not to miss a gathering in the future. 

Q: Favorite travel destination or new hobby?
Canada and Utah to ski. Bolivia to visit my extended family. Hawaii and Cyprus for their beauty. 
My new hobby is learning to TAP dance. I am improving but basically, I am awful. 

This article was originally published in the 2023 Garrison Forest Magazine.