“Know where to throw the ball before you catch it,” was an early lesson Leanne Negron – a First 5 LA Senior Program Officer in the Best Start Communities department – learned through sports and then adopted throughout her life.
Negron started playing sports when she was 5 and has continued to stay active. To Negron, both her participation in sports and her career have focused on being part of a team, doing her best and applying life lessons to her work.
Negron’s 20-plus years of work with communities has been focused on cultivating ideas into action. She has applied her program development and implementation experience to a myriad of areas, including youth development, juvenile justice, affordable housing, workforce development and place-based community change. She has worked with communities in Southern and Northern California, New York and Northern Virginia, in both rural and urban environments.
"It takes time for a community to come together as one, work toward the same goals and achieve those goals, much like in team sports." - Leanne Negron
As a Senior Program Officer, Negron is currently overseeing the implementation of Best Start – First 5 LA’s place-based investment area – in three diverse communities in Los Angeles County: Metro LA, Southeast LA County Cities and Wilmington. She played a lead role in developing the Building Stronger Families Framework Implementation Plan that has guided the work of the Best Start Department since November 2013.
Regarding her day-to-day responsibilities, she said, “I enjoy working at both a macro and micro level. I have a passion for taking ideas to action and achieving the best possible outcome of that vision. I feel it’s critical to understand various perspectives and interests and at multiple levels to inform decisions and make a difference, particularly when working with public funding.”
With Best Start, Negron has been inspired by the coming-together of community members who are working toward a clear, shared vision of the outcome they want to achieve for kids and families in their community.
“This is the first time I’ve seen this level of collaboration and commitment by parents, residents, and organizations who are at the table together, respecting one another for their unique experiences and perspectives, and most importantly organizations valuing parents and residents for their voice and leadership,” Negron said. “I have seen a tremendous change in community members from seeing themselves as living in separate neighborhoods and having little in common, to now seeing each other as one community and supporting one another.”
Negron pointed out that “it takes time for a community to come together as one, work toward the same goals and achieve those goals, much like in team sports. To achieve better outcomes for kids, families and communities, it truly takes a collaborative effort. Being part of an effort focused on working together to achieve a vision is one of the most exciting aspects of my job and what makes it so rewarding.”
When Negron is not at work, she enjoys running and family time.
“My 5-year-old daughter was born shortly before the implementation of First 5 LA’s last Strategic Plan, and it has been exciting to see her grow at the same time Best Start has grown,” Negron said. “We are already teaching her to ‘keep her eye on the ball.’”