Leslie Hiner, Esq. is an advocate of educational freedom, a crusader fighting for the unencumbered opportunity of parents to decide how and where their children will be educated. She believes in the power of individuals to change the world, and believes personal liberty will be enhanced when our method of funding K–12 education is changed to empower parents and students before institutions.
As vice president of legal affairs at EdChoice, the nation’s leading educational choice organization, Leslie leads the EdChoice Legal Defense and Education Center for this nonpartisan, charitable nonprofit and engages with other national organizations to support school choice. She is a proven leader, advancing educational freedom and choice for all as a pathway to successful lives and a stronger society.
Hiner is an attorney with extensive state legislative and executive branch experience. In Indiana, she was the first woman chief of staff to the speaker of the house, counsel to the senate president pro tempore, and general counsel/elections deputy to the Secretary of State. She is also a former small business owner, and former litigator in private practice.
A founding board member of one of Indiana’s first charter schools, Leslie served as chairman of the board for the first several years, guiding the school’s growth from about 150 to over 1000 students. She was also directly involved in developing Indiana’s original charter school law, one of the best in the nation, and Indiana’s voucher law, the largest in the country to date.
Leslie is a member of the American Enterprise Institute Leadership Network, serves on the Schools That Can National Advisory Council, and is a Policy Advisor for The Heartland Institute. Leslie is a long-time member of the Federalist Society and a Lugar Series Excellence in Public Service alumna.
Hiner travels the country speaking on educational issues and testifying at public hearings. Recent engagements include the American Enterprise Institute With all deliberate speed: Brown v. Board of Education II 60 years later; Center for Urban Renewal and Education National Policy Summit, “Changing Policy to Change Lives”; National Conference of State Legislatures Summit debate, School Vouchers and Education Savings Accounts: Are They Constitutional; Network of Enlightened Women National Conference, Three Things You Need To Know About Education Policy; International Conference on School Choice and Reform, The Constitutionality of Educational Choice; 100 Black Men of Greater Dallas/Fort Worth, Project Soar’s Mobilizing the Village; Louisville Federalist Society Lawyers’ Chapter, Is School Choice Good Public Policy; American Conservative Union CPAC 2017.
She’s been cited in several publications, including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Washington Times, Forbes, US News & World Report, The Hill, Real Clear Policy, Federalist Society DocketWatch, National Review, The Federalist, Zman Magazine, Watchdog, and has appeared on EWTN News Nightly, Wall Street Journal Video Opinion Journal podcasts, David Webb Show on Sirius/XM, ChoiceMediaTV, The Heartland Institute podcasts and school choice events, The Morning Blaze, Issues in Education and many state level broadcasts.
A native of Ohio, she earned her Juris Doctorate from the University of Akron School of Law, her Bachelor of Arts degree from the College of Wooster, and attended Rostad Teachers College as an exchange student in Sweden where she was a student teacher in grades 2 and 3. She and her husband reside in Indianapolis, and have two grown children.
A few teachers left lasting impressions and directed my actions in later years:
- Mr. DeStefano, 6th grade, who taught me how to debate (and win), how to handle competition and taught me the value of hand-writing
- Mr. Duda, 8th grade, who paddled me when I failed to do my math homework (a retired Marine, he did not hold back), teaching me that learning is a process where every step, even the seemingly insignificant, adds value (a humbling experience)
- Mr. Garra, 8th grade and Mr. Herncane, 12th grade, who taught me that citizen involvement in government is a duty, and it’s fun
- Mr. Freeland, 12th grade, who taught me extemporaneous speaking
- Dr. Torneke, when I attended Rostad Teacher’s College in Sweden during my 11th grade of high school, who taught me that to understand people of a different culture is necessary to first learn their language
- Mrs. Leisticko, 12th grade, who taught me college English, which I’m convinced prevented me from failing my first year of college where excellent writing skills were absolutely necessary
“What a Long, Strange Trip It’s Been,” from Truckin’ by the Grateful Dead
High School Mascot
Gardening—just flowers—is my way to find peace and remember that from dust we came, from dust we will return. This physical presence on earth does not define the meaning of life.
Inspiration for Joining the Educational Choice Movement
It was 1986. As a young litigator, I represented a mother and her daughter when the ex-husband/father took them to court to force the daughter to leave the private evangelical school she had attended grades 1 through 8, just as the daughter was about to begin high school. The father believed that government should decide where a child should attend school; the mother believed that she knew her child’s needs better than any government entity. We won that case, which meant that the daughter would not be forced to attend the public school where, coincidentally, at the day and time of the judge’s ruling in our favor, gunfire erupted between children boarding buses at the end of the school day. My client, a wise and determined mother, was right. Since that time, I have been supportive of school choice, personally and professionally, and have witnessed countless children and families whose lives were changed from despair and failure to hope and success when children were given the opportunity to choose a different learning environment well-suited to meet their educational needs. Impossible to turn away.