Phaedra M. Leslie is the Director of Business Relations and Economic Development at the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership (The Partnership) where she leads the development and implementation of workforce-focused business development programs throughout the Chicagoland region. Seeking to both recruit companies and help existing ones grow, she works as a key liaison with partners and clients to market and expand economic development opportunities for local and regional businesses. In her first three years, Phaedra’s hands-on leadership led a team of six to engage 300+ employer partners and facilitate over 3,000 job placements and the expanded utilization of business services throughout Chicago and Cook County.
Prior to the Partnership, she was Senior Vice President of a Chicago-based boutique consulting firm, where she created economic opportunity initiatives for government, corporate and institutional clients to maximize the utilization of minorities and women business owners in her client’s procurement processes and assisted them with implementing workforce diversity strategies. In her 10+ years’ experience as a consultant, she lead the development of strategies and processes, as well as evaluation of, compliance for a variety of complex programs and projects with budgets up to $686 million dollars.
Her keen ability to engage prospective clients has allowed her to pioneer new opportunities for businesses by introducing them to The Partnership’s resources such as worker retention training programs including on-the-job training and incumbent worker training; and other resources including tax incentives. Her team has helped to achieve a cost savings of $1.3 million in training dollars for businesses in the Chicagoland region. She has used her ability to forecast market growth which gives her a competitive edge and uniqueness among business intermediaries alike.
Influencing policies and guidelines, guiding community relations’ efforts, and conflict mediation for government agencies, communities, businesses, and advocacy groups are among Phaedra’s many assets. Her success in fostering relationships and creating dialogue in varied settings – from board rooms to community centers, from construction sites to sidewalks, has gained recognition from local elected officials, corporate executives, and nonprofit leadership. She believes that economic development partnered with strategic outreach creates stronger business-consumer relationships, partnerships and communities.
In addition to her business relations role, Phaedra also serves as a founding Board Member to Completion Tutoring and Mentoring, is a former Co-Chair and current member of Teen Living Programs Auxiliary (TLPA) Board, a member of the National Association of African Americans in Human Resources (NAAAHR); Board Secretary for the Washington Park Consortium (WPC), Assistant Recording Secretary for the Board of the South East Chicago Commission and a member of the Washington Park/Woodlawn/South Shore organization for the Obama Presidential Center. Phaedra also participates with the Denison Alumni Recruiting Team (DART).
She holds a BA from Denison University in English Literature and Mass Media Communications and an MA in Organizational Management from the University of Phoenix.