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Lowell Observatory Hires Leslie Currie as Chief Philanthropy Officer

Leslie Currie (left) and her predecessor, Lisa Actor.

Lowell Observatory Hires Leslie Currie as Chief Philanthropy Officer

We’re proud to introduce Leslie Currie, Lowell Observatory’s new Chief Philanthropy Officer! Leslie will lead fundraising efforts as the observatory prepares to open its Marley Foundation Astronomy Discovery Center (ADC) and develop a campaign for the observatory’s science and technology vision.

Raised in Silverton, Oregon, Currie has worked in higher education, nonprofit, and government organizations. She most recently served as Senior Director of Development at The University of New Mexico Foundation, where she spearheaded development of a $50 million campaign for the UNM School of Engineering.

Leslie received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Fine Arts from the University of Dallas in 2004. More interested in managing or fundraising for an institution than being an artist herself, Currie stayed at the University of Dallas to earn an MBA in 2006.

Her interest in fundraising began when she worked with a nonprofit called Creative Solutions, part of a larger organization called Big Thought Texas. “I went to the director of the program, and I said, ‘I’ve been doing this internship a couple of summers. I really love the work. Is there any way this could become a permanent job?’,” recounts Leslie. “And she said, ‘Unfortunately, you’re paid by a grant, and it’s only for the summer. If you could bring your own funding, that would be one thing, but we just don’t have the money for it.’ And then it’s like a lightbulb went off.”

After working as Development Coordinator and Corporate Market Director for two years with the American Heart Association, Leslie and her husband joined the Peace Corps. Stationed in Fiji for 2 ½ years, Currie served as a Business Advisor and spent most of her time empowering women to provide for their families and enrich their communities, teaching them to start small income-producing projects in their villages. “The people [of Fiji] are probably the nicest people you’ll ever meet,” says Leslie. “All they want is for you to stay with them, visit their village, learn about their culture, and have a great time. They’re really wonderful hosts.”

After leaving the Peace Corps in 2010, Currie moved to Seattle and again worked for the American Heart Association. In 2013, she returned to Texas and spent the next four years in Kingsville, first as Director of institutional Advancement at Texas A&M Health Science Center then as Executive Director of Alumni & Development at the Texas A&M Kingsville Foundation.

In these two positions, Leslie worked with scientists, students, and other faculty in leading philanthropy efforts. She developed new business partnerships, managed corporate relations and grant writing, planned fundraising events, identified and cultivated major donors, and managed alumni and development teams.

Leslie says, “I think I’m a good fit for Lowell because I know how to work with scientists. I am married to one and I have raised money alongside many of them throughout my career.”

Leslie succeeds Lisa Actor as Lowell Observatory’s Chief Philanthropy Officer. Actor recently retired after holding the position for nine years. She led a team that raised more than $100 million, funding several projects including two new public astronomy facilities at Lowell—the Giovale Open Deck Observatory and the Marley Foundation Astronomy Discovery Center, which opens in November.