Leslie earned her BA in art from the University of California at Santa Cruz in 1985, with an emphasis on printmaking and painting. She earned an MA in creativity from the Inter-Arts Center at San Francisco State University in 2002 and two years later completed her teaching credential, also at SFSU. Leslie fell in love with teaching through her work for several years as a visiting artist at Bay Area public schools. Along with many other ingredients, her curriculum integrates ideas generated from the classroom as a mode of inquiry into the tools and strategies used by artists. She is committed to social justice and equity in education.