Leah was a true original, and, I think, natural leader. Her perspective about things, as both friend and advisor, really mattered to me. She could capture the kernel of an issue with a simple (and perhaps amusing) diagram or with a few precise words. Conversely, she could explore a concept from a multitude of angles, all of which excited her.I saw Leah as a realist with remarkable equanimity, and one who saw the cup half (or more) full. She was generous with her time and her knowledge, and contributed so much to the advancement of social justice in this region. Yes, she was amazing. The last time I saw Leah was in October, after I'd been out of the country a long time. She looked radiant! She was interested to hear about my experiences, and talked about her work, but was especially eager to tell what changes she'd been making in her life for improved health. It is a gift to have known Leah, and her unique spirit will live on in many, many hearts.
I can count the times I was in Leah's presence on my two hands. In the scope of any life, we would be considered acquaintances and nothing more, but anyone who knew Leah, knows that even one encounter with her was unforgettable. My first meeting with Leah was when she stood at the reception desk of SGS, signing in for a visit with someone on staff. We talked, briefly, but more than her words, I remember her laugh, her smile, her ability to look a person in the eye and connect. Later, as we worked together both within the SGS organization and later on a more personal level, that smile, that laugh, and that amazing gift of connection made me realize what a phenomenal woman she truly was.I cannot remember the exact words Leah said to me when I sought her consultation on my career decisions, but I know they were always the right words. She had a way of always being on your side no matter how many sides were represented in the room. She embodied a sense of hope and possibility. She embodied all that is good in the world.In my brief relationship with Leah, she never once spoke a negative word about anyone or anything. Instead, she lived her life with the utmost integrity, an unmatched depth of compassion, and a wisdom that came from a place far beyond her years... and all with a laugh and a smile that warmed even the most bitter of hearts.Perhaps the most powerful encounter I had with Leah was not in my personal work with her as a life coach, but when we stood in line together to receive our registration packets for what would be her first Danskin Triathlon. Her excitement and pride motivated me to truly understand that life is not just about the trying, it's about the doing no matter how difficult the task.I woke this morning thinking that my feelings of loss were inconsequential to those who knew her as a co-worker, friend, sister, and relative. But then, I thought -- No, anyone lucky enough to have felt Leah's presence in their lives will surely feel the magnitude of her loss. I am glad I was lucky enough to spend time with Leah even if it was small in comparison. She offered me such wisdom and kindness as well as a laugh and a smile I shall never, ever forget.I send my deepest condolences to her family -- biological and logical -- in this difficult, difficult time.