As vice president of programs, Leslie Hiner directs the educational programs and state relations of EdChoice’s state programs team.
EdChoice is the keeper of the intellectual legacy of Nobel Laureate economist Milton Friedman’s and his equally gifted wife, economist Rose Friedman. In Leslie’s work, she strives to advance the Friedmans’ vision—now EdChoice’s vision—of universal educational choice to improve educational outcomes and preserve individual liberty in education.
Leslie has been published and quoted in several national and state publications, including the Wall Street Journal, Washington Times, The Hill, Atlanta Journal Constitution, National Review, Zman Magazine, World, Los Angeles Times, Federalist Society’s Docket Watch, School Reform News, Real Clear Policy and Watchdog. She has also appeared on television, radio shows and podcasts from coast to coast including the Wall Street Journal’s Opinion Journal web series with Mary Kissel, ChoiceMediaTV, The Heartland Institute, The Morning Blaze, The MiddleGround and Issues in Education. She is a frequent speaker on the topic of educational choice at national, state and local events and testifies often before state legislatures.
Leslie serves on the Schools That Can National Advisory Board. She is an appointee to the U. S. Commission on Civil Rights Indiana State Advisory Committee and also serves as an appointee to the Indianapolis City-County Ethics Commission.
Prior to joining EdChoice, Leslie served as chief of staff to the speaker of the Indiana House of Representatives. Leslie also served as majority attorney to the Indiana State Senate President Pro Tempore, general counsel and elections deputy to the Indiana Secretary of State and counsel to the State Recount Commission. As an attorney in private practice, she represented clients in court and handled contract and EEOC cases. Leslie also represented unionized city sanitation workers in a successful bid to provide services when Indianapolis Mayor Steve Goldsmith established a public-private partnership to provide trash and leaf pickup in Indianapolis.
A licensed attorney for more than 30 years, Leslie previously served as president of the Federalist Society Indianapolis Lawyers Chapter and continues to be an active member of the Society. When she and her husband owned a small business, Leslie served on the Howard County Chamber of Commerce board of directors and legislative affairs committee (chair), Howard County United Way board of directors and allocations council (chair) and Howard County Bar Association board of directors (secretary/treasurer). During this time, Leslie also served on Governor Bayh’s state task force to reform regulatory burdens inhibiting the growth of small business in Indiana.
Her education experience includes being a founding board member of the Irvington Community School, one of Indiana’s first charter schools now serving 1,000 children, where she served as chairman of the board for several years. Leslie was an adjunct professor at the University of Indianapolis School of Business, PFO board secretary at the Forest Glen International public magnet school and board member of the Kokomo Montessori Children’s House. She attended Rostad Teachers College in Sweden, student teaching in second and third grade in Kalmar, Sweden.
Leslie is an alumnus of the Lugar Series for Excellence in Public Service. Leslie graduated from the College of Wooster and the University of Akron School of Law, both in Ohio. She and her husband have two children, a daughter who is an executive chef and a son who is completing his undergraduate studies.
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.