Leah Esslinger is the project assistant for New Humanities. Inspired by the educational inequality she witnessed in her native Detroit, Leah studied anthropological linguistics in college, focusing on language ideology and the presumed dichotomy between literacy and orality. She’s spent her professional life in and around academia, working first to increase educational attainment by working in a college library tutoring center and ESL classrooms, and later to encourage reflexive thinking and presumed objectivity among student researchers as a research administrator. Leah also has experience as a freelance writer, having worked in digital marketing and for ed-tech startups. But the most important work of Leah’s life so far is also the least prestigious. In 2012 she authored a series of articles for a small Michigan newspaper designed to make policy issues accessible to diverse audiences. The work was printed, never digitized, and certainly not Pulitzer-level journalism, but the intended audience clearly felt seen by being served in this way. Through that experience Leah came to realize that community advocacy and civic engagement weren’t just her vocation, it was her calling.

Her passions include a robust, fact-based free press, hiking through the beautiful forests, valleys, and beaches across Virginia, photography, dancing, meeting new people, and listening to live music whenever she gets a chance.