Meet the 2021 Most Admired Woman — Home/Home Style
2021 Most Admired Woman — Home/Home Style
Director of Construction, Habitat for Humanity of Metro Louisville
Family: Adult daughters, Ashley, Hailey, and Sydney; two sons-in-law; grandson Nolan
Neighborhood: New Albany, Indiana
At a Habitat for Humanity site in Louisville, you will find lumber and nails. You will find insulation and electrical wiring. It is unlikely that you will find Leslie Woods swinging a hammer, though. She says this can be dangerous, and she’s really better at keeping the construction project on budget and well-coordinated. Between her background in accounting and her experience in residential construction, she is the person you want keeping the project on track.
What are your professional responsibilities?
I oversee the construction of the homes as well as our community development and repair program. Tuesdays are my meeting days. I meet with the leadership team, my team, and we have an operations meeting. I make sure the construction of the houses is being done, and that we have some sort of a schedule. I’m strategically thinking about where we’re going to purchase land for Habitat homes in the future and how we can better build our houses to keep the costs down.
For the average person, building a house is stressful. Since you’ve overseen the building of lots of houses, do you still feel that stress?
You can’t be good at your job in construction if you’re not building that house as if you were going to live in it. Every house that I’ve been a part of, I want it to be something that I want to live in.
What skills are necessary for your position?
Communication is probably number one. Strategic thinking and problem-solving. Team-building; I need a good team if we’re going to be successful. And then project and process management.
What hopes do you have personally or professionally?
I would like lumber prices to come down because I am ready to build my forever home. Professionally, I would like to see the number of Habitat houses we can do a year and the number of repairs we can do a year increase. I truly believe in the power of home. A stable home changes lives. More children graduate from high school and attend college.
What have you learned about yourself in your adult life?
I’ve learned that I don’t give up. I will do what it takes to get it done, and the whole time I’m going through it, I’m thinking “How can I make it better?” I’ve also learned that I need to be outdoors to recharge. Winter is a hard time for me. This is the most important: I’ve learned that being a Gigi (grandma) is far better than I could have ever imagined.
What item can’t you live without?
Diet Vanilla Coke. It keeps me from being grumpy.
What is your favorite word?
Perseverance. When you look at people who’ve achieved their dreams, there are always obstacles to face. I think about our Habitat program; it’s not easy. Some of our home buyers apply three or four times just to get accepted. On top of that they do 400 sweat equity hours. They have to pay their closing costs and attend workshops. Our home buyers have to have some drive and determination.
Are you a beach person or mountain person?
I’m both. There’s nothing better than going to Destin, Florida, and sitting on a sandy beach. This year, we’re going out west. We’re going to hit Glacier, Yellowstone, and Grand Tetons.
Is there something specific that you hope to see on this trip?
When I travel with my kids, they may be grown, but it’s about them. I get excited by what they’re excited about. Usually they choose our destination, and I don’t care where they choose. If they choose the beach, I’m going to be happy; if they choose Disney World, I’m going to be happy. I just want to see their faces.
What do you do when you feel frustrated?
I get outside, getting fresh air and having time to clear my mind.
Where is your favorite place to visit in Indiana?
Palmyra, Indiana, to a little hidden gem called Buffalo Trace Park. I grew up camping there with my parents, and I’ve taken my children there. That was one of our favorite camping places.
P.S. Purchase your tickets for the revamped Most Admired Woman event, being held at The Gillespie. Be a part of history as former Today’s Woman owners Cathy Zion and Anita Oldham pass the baton to new owner Tawana Bain. You won’t want to miss this night of sisterhood!