HU Employee Spotlight: Leanne Newman

At Humanity United, we are proud to work with a talented and dedicated team that brings curiosity, empathy and creativity to our commitment to create a world with greater peace and dignity.

Each month, we will highlight one of our team members and invite you to meet the individuals that make so much of our work possible.


Name & position?
Leanne Newman | People Associate, SF

Have you had any unusual pets?
Growing up I had three cats and two dogs, which is pretty normal, as well as a few unusual pets like a duckling and African Water frogs.

The story on the duckling… I grew up on a lake and discovered an abandoned duckling one afternoon. After watching him for a few hours and saving him from a couple dangerous situations, we took him in and named him Lucky. The duckling was with us for just a few short weeks and during that time he befriended our Border Collie, following her around everywhere she went. As Fall was quickly approaching, my mom realized she was not about to let a duck live in our house over the winter and we found him a forever home at a local wildlife refuge.

Now the story on the African Water frogs… In kindergarten my parents got me a “grow a frog” kit, thinking it would be a fun and educational activity. They assumed the frog would have the life span of your standard feeder gold fish. Somehow, we successfully hatched three African Water frogs – all credit really should go to my mom for this accomplishment – which are essentially these freckled, bug-eyed blobs that live in water 24/7 with a shockingly long lifespan. Despite several escape attempts and being left behind during a house remodel, they were with my family for over 25 years. The frogs were nearly impossible to tell apart so we just referred to them as a collective “the frogs.”

Currently, I have a dog that has become the Mayor of my block, thanks to his exuberant personality, so I guess he’s a bit unusual too!

What’s the best book you’ve read lately?
One of my new year’s resolutions was to start reading for fun again – meaning emails, articles, and professional development books don’t count even if I am enjoying them immensely. Right now I’m on a Joan Didion kick, and just finished reading Slouching Towards Bethlehem.

What do you do for fun?
I love trying, seeing, and learning new things. In my free time you can find me dining with friends, checking out museum exhibits, cooking, reading, urban hiking in San Francisco with my dog, or doing some sort of home improvement project. I am also a huge fan of Netflix and takeout nights. I guess you can add reading to this list now too!

What was your first job?
My first “real” job was a server at the Original Pancake House. I worked there for over a year in High School. During my pancake house stint, I learned one valuable lesson that I’ve carried with me and call on often: breakfast for dinner is not only acceptable, but delicious.

What is the most adventurous thing you’ve done?
I used to say the most adventurous thing I’ve ever done was moving across the country and putting down roots in the Bay Area, but after eight years here and many more life adventures, that feels a bit tame.

Raising a puppy in a 3rd floor walk-up apartment is currently the most adventurous (and rewarding) thing I have ever done.

Favorite travel location?
I am having a bit of a love affair with Spain and Italy right now.

Favorite food indulgence?
Nachos. I have an unhealthy obsession with nachos. Actually, if I’m being totally honest, I have an obsession with all Mexican food.

What is something about you that may surprise others?
I ran a fairly successful eBay business with my best friend during the summers between 6th and 9th grade. We would search our neighborhood estate sales and garage sales for underpriced antiques and collectibles trending on eBay that we would clean up and sell for a profit. It was a bit nerdy, but it funded many fun summer adventures. I am still an avid flea market/DIY person.

What inspires you?
I am inspired by small acts of kindness that I see people do for each other on a daily basis. These simple acts are a nice reminder to spread kindness and approach each interaction with compassion. You often don’t know what’s going on in someone’s life or how big of an impact you can make with a tiny bit of kindness.