Leslie M. Demus: Secretary - lmdemus@optonline.net

Leslie M. Demus has served two consecutive, 5-year terms on the Board of Trustees for the New Rochelle Public Library and has served as both the Board’s President and Vice-President during that time. Ms. Demus has been a member of the board of the New Rochelle Public Library Foundation, Inc. since 1995 and is presently the Co-President. As a member of the NRPL family she has contributed as a fundraiser, spokesperson, and creative thinker to modernize technology, create quality programming, develop special projects, and ensure quality service for library patrons. She has chaired two successful JAZZMATAZZ fundraisers for the library. Ms. Demus helped develop a project called Cantiamo Insieme! (Let’s Sing Together!) with the Grimes Performing Arts Magnet School in Mt. Vernon, New York for which she brought Lincoln Center performers to the school stage to expose inner city children to an opera performance. As part of the same program, Ms. Demus initiated Italian lessons for the students in an afterschool program for which she wrote Italian lesson plans and created an Italian dictionary for each student. The project culminated in the student production of an original opera. Ms. Demus has served as a member of the New Rochelle Council on the Arts and the African-American Arts & Cultural Appreciation Council. Ms. Demus also serves on the board of Billy Strayhorn Songs, Inc, a music publishing company. Ms. Demus is a niece of Billy Strayhorn, the composer and Duke Ellington collaborator who is responsible for some of the Ellington orchestra’s best known pieces, most notably ”Take the A Train” and “Lush Life”. Ms Demus heads up the Billy Strayhorn Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to celebrating the music and life of composer, arranger, and pianist Billy Strayhorn. The foundation supports this purpose through live music performance, lectures, symposia, and scholarships.

Earlier this year, Ms Demus decided to sharpen her leadership skills and gain a more in depth understanding of how non-profits work. She became a member of the Class of 2011 of Leadership Westchester. Leadership Westchester provides a rigorous curriculum that gives class members 1) exposure to leadership concepts taught at the tip business schools, 2) an understanding of non-profit board responsibilities and key management tools to help them become a valuable resource, 3) help with prioritizing the issues that truly matter to you and your community and how to make an important impact on others , and 4) access to a network of top leaders in the nonprofit and for-profit worlds.

Ms. Demus believes that it is important to volunteer. “ Volunteering gives you the chance to share something special about yourself ..your love of reading or music or dance or sports or quantum physics….with someone else. Volunteering allows you provide opportunities for others to experience moments of wonder. Volunteering is a gift. A gift that you give yourself.”
Ms. Demus is a graduate of Barnard College and Columbia University School of Law. She spent almost 20 years in advertising and was a Vice President/Senior Attorney at Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide.

Ms. Demus met her husband, Ralph C. Dawson, in law school. Mr. Dawson is a partner in the law firm of Fulbright & Jaworski, They have two sons.