Leslie Lynn Smith on Justice, Equity, and Community Impact in Ecosystem Building

In this episode, show host David Ponraj speaks with Leslie Lynn Smith, National Executive Director for GET Cities (Gender Equality in Tech) at SecondMuse, about her journey and lessons learned in economic development and ecosystem building.

Listeners will learn about the importance of collaboration between different organizations and initiatives, thinking holistically about workforce development alongside fostering entrepreneurship, and the critical need to ensure inclusion in ecosystem building and community revitalization efforts. 

Leslie shares about her past work across Michigan, at Epicenter in Memphis, TN, and her recent work with Gender Equity in Tech Cities (GET Cities), a national initiative focused on increasing opportunities for women, trans, and non-binary people across tech ecosystems in several cities. She reflects on applying strategies from Detroit to build an inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystem in Memphis and bringing together different parts of the city’s innovation economy, including designing interventions tailored to address specific inclusion gaps and challenges in each city.

Key themes include facilitating connections between stakeholders, the value of convening, and maintaining a commitment to justice, equity, and community impact throughout Leslie’s career navigating economic crises and driving change.

Learn more about GET Cities:

Check out Leslie’s most recent contributions in Forbes Magazine here:

You can also connect with Leslie via LinkedIn or email

About Breaking Down Barriers
This podcast explores the opportunity to build wealth in local, regional, and national economies through entrepreneurship-led economic development. Episodes feature changemakers with innovative approaches to empowering people to start businesses that create wealth for their families and improve outcomes for their communities. Conversations highlight work being done in communities across the U.S. to break down barriers to entrepreneurial opportunity in underserved and underrepresented communities. In this series, we share authentic stories about the impact that entrepreneurship-led economic development has on the local economy and connect a global network of passionate economic developers. 

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Breaking Down Barriers is a presentation of Economic Impact Catalyst and is hosted by David Ponraj with production and editing by Jacqui Dietrich and Lauren Bernard with voice talent by Antoine Long. Please rate, review, and subscribe to Breaking Down Barriers, available for free wherever you listen to your podcasts!

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