Leslie D. Davis (92BA, 95JD, 95MA) is a pioneering executive leader, legal strategist, and civic proponent who advocates for diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice.
As chief executive officer of the National Association of Minority and Women Owned Law Firms (NAMWOLF), she supports diversity in the legal profession by developing career opportunities for leading minority- and women-owned law firms. Davis is the first Black woman to lead NAMWOLF, which consists of 205 law firms.
She is a key member of several civic, health, and educational boards and serves on the City of Chicago Community Development Commission. Throughout Davis' legal career, she represented Fortune 100 companies across various industries as a partner for three major law firms, including Riley Safer Holmes & Cancila LLP, Drinker Biddle & Reath (now Faegre Drinker), and Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal (now Dentons).
Davis helped establish Legacy Charter School, an elementary school in the underserved Chicago community of North Lawndale. As a founding board member, she was instrumental in naming the school, hiring the inaugural principal and staff, and providing invaluable guidance and insight to the students, staff, community, and corporate business partners. A board member for Chicago's Sinai Health System, Davis champions the health care needs of urban communities, mentors children with diabetes, and is an avid fundraiser for the American Diabetes Association.
Davis' time as a Daily Iowan court reporter inspired her to pursue law school at the University of Iowa, where she earned degrees in law and journalism and mass communication. She remains active with the Black Law Students Association at Iowa, participating in the annual Back to Iowa event and mentoring Black law students.
"Leslie is a force of nature who shares candor, explains context, and offers clarity in complicated situations. She's a verb for public service and ethics," says Lisa Kenner, founding principal of Legacy Charter School.
Since 1963, the University of Iowa has annually recognized accomplished alumni and friends with Distinguished Alumni Awards. Awards are presented in seven categories: Achievement, Service, Hickerson Recognition, Faculty, Staff, Recent Graduate, and Friend of the University.