We had the good fortune of connecting with Leah McLeod and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Leah, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
As a current pre-med student, I’ve had the amazing opportunity to dive deep into medical research, and a better understanding of the science around me. With this being said, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020 and I had to return back home from where I currently resided for school, I noticed a significant change in emotions when seeing how the medical field and society itself was impacted. A rise in political, racial, and scientific conflict occurred to an extent that I’ve never experienced before, and as a black woman in the STEM field, I knew I wanted to bring something to my community that would bring a sense of unity within all the chaos. At a time of desperation, a family member who worked as a nurse in a local hospital, expressed that they had completely run out of masks and other forms of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and that they were trying to make some out of the hospital gowns and sheets. Immediately gathering my close family, I decided to start making reusable, cotton masks to donate to essential workers or anyone who needed it, to make sure as many people as possible were well equipped. In addition to the donations of these products, I also wanted to be able to offer as much support and relief as my community needed. I chose not to sell these products to ensure the access to proper healthcare supplies was offered equally to each and every individual. As the production and demand of masks exceeded our expectations, I decided to take it to the next level and found my own nonprofit, Motivate And Spread Kindness Mission (MASKMission). Creating this organization wasn’t something that was planned, but instead was truly a risk that I left in the hands of God to take charge of. In addition to masks, we have also expanded our reach by making reusable scrub caps to donate to further essential workers that are constantly working with patients to help slow the spread of this viral transmission. Successfully, we have been able to donate over 8,000 masks and scrub caps, to over 150 organizations, in the United States, Canada, and the Caribbean. It has been so amazing to see what we’ve accomplished in such a short time and we are so excited to see what the future has in store for us.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Since I am currently an undergraduate student and still exploring different professional career options, I am most proud of what I’ve accomplished so far as a young adult. From what I have learned about both myself and what I hope to achieve in the future, I am so excited to see what the future has in store for my organization and I. I have always kept myself involved in multiple extracurricular activities and organizations that have helped me prepare for future careers such as interviewing, job/internship searching, networking, and more. In addition, I can truly say that getting to where I am today was not easy. I faced many challenges and obstacles and learned so much about myself in the process of overcoming them. I taught myself that I am capable of so many things that others may deem as impossible or hard to accomplish, as long as I set that as a GOAL and not just a DREAM. I want the world to know that I intend to leave a mark on wherever I go and serve my community, as MASKMission will go along with me.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
To begin the trip, I would take them to Miami Beach and plan for us to spend the day walking up Ocean Drive and enjoying the sun, because who doesn’t love great summer weather! In addition, I’d love to take them to different parts of Miami where they can experience the various cultures that we have here and have the most amazing food in places such as Little Havana and Little Haiti. On a different day, I’d start the day with brunch and most likely the beach again, because I just feel like the beach should be a daily necessity when visiting Miami. My favorite part of this trip would be to visit Wynwood, take plenty of pictures, enjoy the beautiful artwork done by local artists, and be able to drive home at night and see the amazing skyline over the bridges. I would also like to take a trip down to the Keys and experience a little more island-y vibe by canoeing and snorkeling away from the city.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’d like to shoutout my parents, Nadine and Paul McLeod for the endless amount of support and love that they give me each and every day. Along with my mother’s sewing and my dad’s cutting/gathering of materials, we have been able to progress this organization to outreach as many people as we have today. They deserve so much recognition for all of their hard work and dedication to this organization, and I could truly go on and on about how much it means to me. In addition, I’d like to thank the MASKMission board that has contributed their time and effort into expanding MASKMission and following up with updates that us as an organization can take part in. I would also like to recognize GetUsPPE whom has been an organization that has shown us great mentorship, and has allowed for us to reach so many individuals, companies, and businesses in need of PPE across the United States. Lastly, I’d like to shoutout the family, friends, and donors that have shown me support from day 1 and have made all things become possible. I don’t know where myself and MASKMission would be without each and every one of you, and you all deserve the most recognition for the motivation and dedication you have given to this organization.