About

A Brief Introduction

From my small perch in Toronto, Canada, every day, I am navigating a way forward to own the change needed to transform our cities and towns into places of beauty, fairness, and harmony.

Having spent the last 13 years heading up the planning for one of North America’s most aggressive multi-billion dollar city building ventures through public transit expansion. I practiced public policymaking, urban and regional planning, and transit-oriented development, in an industry where women are under-represented. Now I am embarking on a new role to lead one of Canada’s most influential civic capacity building organizations mobilizing civic entrepreneurship and collective leadership. My new mandate will offer me an even further platform to showcase the heroines of cities.

Just to be clear, this is a venture to expose how much women around the world are a fundamental part of building a hopeful future.

Leslie Woo

That’s ME !

Yes, I know I look – I look Asian, but it’s a ruse. I am really Canadian. I didn’t start that way. I was born in Trinidad, a small, loud Caribbean island famous for the steel pan, calypso, VS Naipaul, and carnival (as in, bacchanal).

After high school, I was transplanted to a bitterly cold cornfield, also known as the University of Waterloo School of Architecture in Canada. Nothing like depriving a person of every familiar point of reference, to instill a strong and enduring desire to find roots, a sense of place, and personal relationships.

Family
Down the Islands 2017

I think in some countries this might be construed as – sensory deprivation of all things familiar – even the weather. In my case, it resulted in an overwhelming desire to belong and an insatiable desire to make sense of remote and distant ideas, people, and projects.

This coupled with my formal training as an architect (creating beautiful buildings), planner (creating beautiful cities) and starting a young family in Toronto (creating beautiful people), led me to an overwhelming passion for the intense energy of cities and a career journey searching for a fair, beautiful and harmonious home, neighborhood, city, country and now globe.

I have worked in professional architectural private practice, in urban planning leadership roles in the public sector, and in not for profit advocacy. I dabble in academia.

I have been a political aide and a local community activist. For over a decade I led the transportation planning for Canada’s largest growing urban region, and I advise on urban public policy internationally, and of course, sundry other jobs as assigned. I no longer live in the same house I raised my kids.

After 30 years with my now deceased Jack Russell Terrier, my eclectic iPod collection (now reduced to a Spotify playlist) and neighbors who, like me, have been on the same street years, I have downsized, with my partner, into a condo in the St. Lawrence Market neighborhood. These are my new local roots and a long way from my first landing here in Canada.

I am a bike touring cyclist, and every summer, I complete a different five day ride along Ontario’s lakeshore with a group of 150, traveling over 600km. I also try to fill my life with music and art.

As a cathartic act of recompense for my fortunes in life, I offer this site to sing the praises of women changing the world through awesome city building.

Nov 2016 Woo Pic
IMG_1375
Bloominton Indiana Leslie