Be True to Yourself: A Lesson in Leadership from Colorado State Representative Leslie Herod

In a room full of over two hundred students, there were conversations on who Leslie Herod might be. Little did theses students know that they were about to meet a Colorado State Representative, a woman of Color, and who identifies herself as a member of the LGBTQ+ community. When a person thinks about a state representative, this is not someone they would typically envision. Representative Leslie Herod came in to the room with vulnerability and willingness to open up about her story, and how she made it to where she is today.

Leslie Herod was raised by a single mother who was an officer in the Army Nurse Corps. Representative Herod comes from a family who is prone to addiction. She grew up seeing people such as her sister constantly trickle in and out of jail. Members of her family abused a variety of substances, and it was hard to keep pushing through in an environment where she had to face these things on a day-to-day basis.

Following the presentation, Representative Herod allowed time for people to ask some questions. I asked the question, “ Being a minority, how did you open up about your sexuality to your family? Especially if you lived in a religious household?” Representative Herod responded by saying that ,”you [would] lose some people along the way, but you [would] gain so many more”. Sure, it was tough on her parents, but they eventually learned to be okay with it. Representative Herod is unapologetic about who she is. This has empowered people see she meets to recognize that in order to be great leaders, they must remain true to themselves. Representative Herod taught us that you don’t have to pretend to be someone you are not to be a good leader, or to have an impact in people’s lives. Your past shapes who you are today, and if people do not support you, they do not deserve to be in your life.

Over two weeks later, I still hear others engaged in conversations about Leslie Herod and participate in these dialogues myself. Seeing how much people appreciate and look up to her is so inspiring to me. Since the presentation, I saw her again at the Martin Luther King Marade, and it really shows how much she cares about the community and building connections with people. She doesn’t portray herself to be any greater than the rest of us. She is a leader that levels herself out and actually engages with the Colorado community. She left a lasting impact in our PLP community, and to me, that is a true leader.

Post written by: Janeth Mancha, current PLPer

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