Staff spotlight: Leslie McFadden

Meet Leslie McFadden, director of UMD Children’s Place & Preschool at the Park

When did you start at UMD? 

As an employee, I started in August of 2016. However, I am a former student ('81 graduate) with a BA in art and dual minors in outdoor and therapeutic recreation.

Why did you choose to work at UMD?

I was returning to Northeast MN in 2016 to be closer to family (my mother had been diagnosed with dementia) and the position seemed like a wonderful opportunity. After graduating in 1981, I moved out of state and began my career in the field of human services. 

In 1989, I completed my master’s degree in early childhood/elementary education from Antioch University New England's graduate school. Over the years I have gained a broad range of experience in a wide variety of human service positions. Coming back full circle to where I started my formal education and having the opportunity to work at UMD just felt right and was a wonderful opportunity.

What do you like most about your job? 

Witnessing all of the growth and development that occurs on so many levels. Infants to preschool, student staff, teaching staff, and parents.

I also like supporting staff and students in the discovery of and tending to their passions.

Do you have any advice for students?

There is no right or wrong path. Just different experiences. Never lose your sense of wonder.

I would like to share my favorite quote. It also is reflective of “Why I chose to work at UMD” and “Advice for students."

“We shall not cease from exploration

And in the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we started

And know the place for the first time.”

--T.S. Eliot

What do you like to do in your free time?

For the last 3-4 years I have become obsessed with transforming the landscape of my rental home (it may have been a gravel pit 😊). The transforming includes the slow elimination of an invasive weed called “tansy” and replanting areas with perennials, herbs, edible annual flowers, and potatoes. I also enjoy cooking, genealogy, and watching movies, (preference for movies based on real life). In summer I enjoy spending time with my family at our cabin in northern Wisconsin.

About Children's Place

About Preschool at the Park