Woman Crush Wednesday.
We love to celebrate female movers and shakers who are successful locally, nationally, internationally, and most importantly, personally.
This week, we are so excited to highlight Leslie Poston, Owner and Lead Editor of A Draft Supreme, LLC., a company that specializes in editing dissertations and other academic work written by and about people from historically marginalized backgrounds.
We asked her to share with us her story and her thoughts on success.
How did you get started in your field/career?
The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (the Emmy people) awarded me a competitive post-college internship when I left Stanford. Months after it ended, I simultaneously received two job offers. I would become an assistant in the Book-to-Movie Dept at The Gersh Agency where I’d been interning or I’d be an English teacher at Optimist High School, located on the campus of what social services and juvenile justice refer to as a “placement facility”.
So I could answer phones and read manuscripts that may or may not become movies, or I could teach high school students who were banned from public school. I’m grateful that the pay was the same, because I had to ask myself what was most important to me. I wanted to be a teacher, I wanted to instruct writing, and I wanted to do both with kids that others would not. This has not changed. I can trace everything I’ve done professionally and as a volunteer to that decision.
Biggest "break" thus far and how were you able to achieve it?
At 14, I decided to forgo traditional high school in L.A. and applied to the A Better Chance program. At 15, I was admitted to the program and ended up at Wasatch Academy, a college prep boarding school in Utah where I’m currently a board member. It was my biggest “break” because it put me far afield of my comfort zone more than any setting I’d been in before or have encountered since – and I’ve been in some of the most non-traditional environments one can think of. I figured out how to own what I wanted and needed, accept the unknown consequences of my life choices, defy convention and pay no mind to other people’s evaluation of that ownership. I haven’t lived any other way since then.
Biggest roadblock and how did you overcome it?
I’ve always been my biggest roadblock. To date, I still haven’t written a book – though off the strength of a website I used to write and self-publish, I was approached by a literary agent (gotta love those full circle moments). At the time I was unprepared, having no ready-to-go manuscript. I still don’t have one. Because I enjoy what I do, I haven’t felt shortchanged but from a writer’s perspective, this is a colossal “no-no”. The real answer is that I haven’t overcome this roadblock as of yet. It’s still there. Yet, so am I. Therefore, I don’t consider it a permanent obstruction. I’ll write through it – eventually.
Do you have a mentor? If so, how did you find him/her? If not, who do you model your professional goals after?
I learn from an ever-widening array of friends that I’ve had since pre-school through my most current jobs and passion projects. There is no singular mentor for me. I model my professional goals after the woman I am today and the woman I want to be tomorrow. They are in constant, sometimes adversarial, conversation.
If you could tell your younger self one thing to jumpstart her career, what would it be?
Don’t expect the world to reflect your values, but make sure you are relentless in living out those values on your own terms while always being open enough to accept truth may demand alternation or abandonment of false values that once seemed genuine. The world will never provide you congruence; you must create and nurture it from within.
What is your most memorable special project that you have worked on thus far?
Oh- this just happened! When I opened the document of a client who does amazing work on the criminalization of poor, pregnant women by the criminal justice system and black girls in school settings, I realized it was her application letter for tenure. And it brought tears to my eyes as I edited the long journey she’d been on in her work and teaching career to reach this point. I market myself as an ally to my clients who exist in a setting (ivory tower/higher education) that does not always appreciate their presence despite benefitting from it. But at that moment, as I made sure every word was as perfect as it could be, I championed her work through my job and I truly was an ally in action. So her self-actualization furthered my own. It was a very quiet and ground shifting experience.
Leslie Diane Poston is the Owner and Lead Editor of A Draft Supreme, LLC, a company that specializes in editing dissertations and other academic work written by and about people from historically marginalized backgrounds. A Draft Supreme also administers customized college application essay editing and guidance to high school seniors from these same backgrounds. Through the company, Leslie provides contractual writing and facilitation services to nonprofits, currently as the Acting Grants Manager at Advancement Project California and as a Movies 4 Mental Health College Facilitator at Art With Impact. For several years, she has instructed English Composition at UCLA through VIP Scholars and their Freshman Summer Program and remains involved with L.A. public schools as a special education substitute teacher. Her most recent volunteer effort is Reading Through Time, a monthly book club and discussion group she facilitates with incarcerated girls who are being tried as adults in L.A. County. Leslie holds a B.A. in English and an M.A. in Sociology from Stanford University and is a member of multiple professional organizations centered on editing, writing and college admissions.
Professional Website: adraftsupreme.com
Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter – ADraftSupreme