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Leslie Alexandre
Leslie Alexandre works on the road from her hotel room in San Francisco during the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference. (Life Science Washington Photo)

Leslie Alexandre was born in Vancouver, Wash., but much of her career revolved around the other Washington — the nation’s Capital. Alexandre is a self-professed policy geek, and she has a doctorate in public health and two years as a congressional staffer to prove it.

Alexandre is GeekWire’s latest Geek of the Week, and her passion for public health policy has taken her into a variety of fascinating organizations across the country — the National Institutes of Health, information technology company EDS and most recently Georgia Regents University, to name a few.

“I have been presented with some amazing opportunities throughout my career,” Alexandre said. “I have supported exciting startups, consulted with some of the largest corporations in America, and orchestrated congressional hearings and drafted legislation for two U.S. senators.”

In all her various roles, Alexandre has remained elbow-deep in public health policy and the nation’s life sciences industry, and her eyes light up when the conversation turns to those topics. She now serves as the president and CEO of Life Science Washington, the state’s life science industry group, liaising with private businesses of all sizes and the state government to help foster the industry.

Learn more about this week’s Geek of the Week, Leslie Alexandre:

What do you do and why do you do it? “I lead the trade association for Washington state’s life science industry because I believe in the power of life science innovation to solve some of the greatest challenges confronting humankind. I know that achieving these results will require collective engagement from organizations across our state and beyond, something Life Science Washington can foster.”

What is the single most important thing people should know about your field? “Life science innovation is not limited to new diagnostics, therapeutics, medical devices and other human health applications, but is also occurring in most of our state’s basic industries: plant and animal agriculture, marine sciences, forestry and others. The economic development potential throughout our state is substantial.”

Where do you find your inspiration? “From ordinary people who do extraordinary things, particularly when those things benefit others with whom they have no obvious connection or relationship.”

What is the one piece of technology you couldn’t live without, and why? “My cell phone, because it provides instantaneous audio and visual connectivity to family, friends and—if needed—urgent help. It is also just plain useful for many different functions that have come to be part of every day life.”

What’s your workspace like and why does it work for you? “In my office at Life Science Washington, I am surrounded by photos of family and close friends, helping me keep life in perspective. That said, in today’s connected world, we can set up a ‘workspace’ almost anywhere. Given my busy travel schedule, I often find myself working on the road or from my home. As long as I have my laptop and cellphone — and easy access to coffee — I can usually work pretty effectively.”

Leslie Alexandre
“I recommend keeping your priorities in check, knowing what is most important in your life and allocating your time accordingly,” Leslie Alexandre says. (Life Science Washington Photo)

Best tip or trick for managing every day work and life? “I recommend keeping your priorities in check, knowing what is most important in your life and allocating your time accordingly. Schedule time off well in advance and make that time sacred, particularly when it involves family and friends. Most importantly, make sure you love what you do; if you don’t, nothing will create good work-life balance.”

Mac, Windows or Linux? “Mac.”

Kirk, Picard or Janeway? “Seriously?! Janeway, of course.”

Transporter, Time Machine or Cloak of Invisibility? “Transporter.”

If someone gave me $1million to launch a startup, I would… “Create a business plan competition and seek great ideas from a diverse set of young entrepreneurs; provide seed funding to the best three and hold the remainder for follow-on support. I would be a very engaged investor!”

I once waited in line for…. “Tickets to the midnight movie premiere of ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ in Westwood, Calif. (Yes, I am that old!!).”

Your role models (And why?): “My parents, who taught me and my sisters to be honest, work hard and care about others, particularly those less fortunate than us. They also taught us not to be afraid: to stand up to bullies, defend others less fortunate and have the courage to speak up and act boldly to defend what we value and believe in.”

Greatest game in history: “Monopoly.”

Best gadget ever: “Swiss Army knife.”

First computer: “Original, Bondi Blue iMac.”

Current phone: “iPhone 6s.”

Favorite app: Waze (I am directionally impaired! And being new to Seattle, this app has helped me keep my stress in check.)”

Favorite cause: “Planned Parenthood.”

Most important technology of 2016: “CRISPR gene editing”

Most important technology of 2018: “Who can say?”

Final words of advice for fellow geeks: “Don’t forget to breathe!”

Your site: lifesciencewa.org

Your Twitter: @LifeScienceWA

LinkedIn: Leslie Alexandre

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