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Leonard joined the Cronkite School after 17 years as a reporter and editor for The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com, the state’s largest media organization. As a reporter, she covered a variety of beats, including criminal justice and local government. Her leadership roles included serving as state and county political editor, assistant business editor and editor-in-chief of two business magazines, Arizona Woman and bizAZ.
Leonard also supervised reporting teams that covered city government, education and politics for the Republic. She helped launch several newsroom initiatives, including a Diversity Committee, an expansion to mobile platforms, and AZ Fact Check, a service that fact-checks statements by political leaders that was a finalist for the 2010 Gannett Innovator of the Year Award.
In 2010, she earned the prestigious Gannett Chairman’s Award for her leadership role in the newsroom. She also is the recipient of several awards from the Arizona Press Club and the Oklahoma chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.
She is the vice president of the Arizona chapter of the Asian American Journalists Association and has served as president and treasurer as well. She was founder and former chairwoman of the Republic’s Diversity Committee. She has twice participated in AAJA’s Executive Leadership Program and was a Western Knight fellow at the University of Southern California Annenberg’s Institute for Justice and Journalism.
Leonard graduated with a master's degree in interdisciplinary studies from Arizona State University. She also graduated Summa cum Laude with a bachelor of journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma. She served as editor-in-chief of The Oklahoma Daily, which won a College Gold Crown Newspapers award from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association during her tenure. She started her career as an intern for the Tulsa World and Claremore Daily Progress before being named a Pulliam Fellow at The Arizona Republic.
Leonard lives in Goodyear with her husband and two children.