Leslie Goodman is a well known communications and public affairs consultant, who has held high level posts with a Fortune 500 company, two US Presidents, a California governor, a major political party, and numerous political campaigns. She has also worked in cable television production and broadcast journalism.
Most recently she was Senior Vice President, Corporate Citizenship, Walt Disney Company. She was in charge of the company's community outreach, education programs, environmental efforts and conservation, volunteer engagement, philanthropy, as well as The Walt Disney Foundation and Disney's Worldwide Conservation Fund.
She joined Disney in March 2001, where she led communications and public affairs for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.
Early life and career
Leslie was born in 1959 to New York State Senator Roy M. Goodman. She grew up in New York City and graduated from Stanford University in 1981 with a degree in broadcast journalism and international relations.
Returning to New York after college, she went to work as a researcher and news-writer for WCBS-TV, and later a writer and producer for Cable Health Network.
She got her professional start in politics as a press coordinator for Reagan-Bush 84 campaign. From there, she became Special Assistant for Public Affairs to the Regional Administrator of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, where she was responsible for creating public service announcements, and managing community outreach.
In 1986, Leslie headed to Washington DC to work as associate commissioner for public affairs at the Social Security Administration. In this role she created a multimedia public outreach campaign, as well as producing new print materials. Concurrently, she worked on occasion as a press advance representative for the White House.
In 1988, she hit the campaign trail again as director of media outreach for the Bush/Quayle campaign. After the successful election, she was appointed press secretary of the Republican National Committee by Chairman Lee Atwater. She served in that position until Chairman Atwater's death in 1991.
She was director of communications for the United States Information Agency from 1991-1992 and deputy communications director for the Bush/Quayle reelection campaign in 1992. After Bush and Quayle failed to win reelection, Leslie went to work as vice president of media relations for the United States Chamber of Commerce for less than a year.
In December 1993, she headed back to California when then Governor Pete Wilson hired her as Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications. As one of the governor's top advisers, she oversaw the press, speechwriting, and public outreach offices and created the overall communications and messaging strategy for Governor Wilson and his cabinet.
She took a brief leave of absence in 1996 when she was chosen for a fellowship at Harvard University's School of Politics. As part of the fellowship, she conducted a study group on political communications.
In February 1997, Leslie stepped down from the governor's office, and became a private consultant, specializing in political campaigns, legislative advocacy, and crisis communications. Some of her more noteworthy clients included Costco, the Bush for President campaign (she was a senior advisor on the campaign's West Coast operations) and the 2000 Republican National Convention, where she served as Director of Communications.
At the same time, she also created and maintained a political information website. She also appeared frequently as a political analyst in local California media.
In 2001, Leslie was hired by then-Chairman of Walt Disney Parks & Resorts Paul Pressler to serve as the Senior Vice President of Strategic Communications for the business unit. Her purview included crisis communications, public and community relations, press operations, global events planning, and all internal and external communications.
Under Leslie's leadership, the first ever Report on Safety was produced, as a direct result of a fatal accident on Big Thunder Mountain, which Disney later admitted being due to poor maintenance.
In 2004, after an executive shuffle, her title changed to Executive Vice President, Worldwide Public Affairs, Parks and Resorts. In addition to her original duties, she also added government and industry relations.
In April 2010, she was promoted to Senior Vice President, Corporate Citizenship, the Walt Disney Company.
In January 2014, she stepped down from her Disney post in order to spend more time at home with her family.