Leny Buford

Leny Valerio-Buford has worked with the University of Washington Upward Bound Program (affiliated with the Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity) since 1991. Over the years, she has taken on several positions within the program (including Academic Counselor and College Preparatory Instructor), but currently works as the Director (and has been since 2001). Meanwhile, Leny is also preparing for retirement in a couple of months, which marks summer of 2014 as the last summer she directed the program. This nomination serves to both recognize the incredible work this woman has put into her job year after year, and to thank her for being a positive role model, a loving and caring teacher, a great mother (to both her daughter and her garden), and an all-around amazing human being. You (and your garden plums) will be missed. Under Leny’s direction, vision, and supervision, the Upward Bound program has seen insurmountable success, and will continue to see success for years to come. She is one of the hardest working individuals I have met, and the number of students she has helped get to college and be successful speaks volumes to this truth. In administrative positions, it is often the case that the time and energy exuded goes unnoticed because of the disconnect between an administrator’s role and the students who are impacted. However, Leny takes on a different approach to her work. While she does spend a significant amount of her day handling administrative tasks in her office, she still finds time to engage with students. During the summer, Leny sits in on classes and really gets to know the approximately 80 students in the program. Up until a couple of years ago, Leny also taught a College Preparatory course over the summer, helping students realize the importance of a college degree and working with them on how to build the skills necessary to get to college and make it happen. I was lucky enough to be a student in the program at a time when Leny still taught the class, and I truly developed strong skills and a better understanding of college as a result of her course. Leny definitely has a natural talent for teaching. Leny is also very hardworking. Her day usually does not end at 5 pm. She often continues work at home to make sure everything gets done in a timely manner. Leny handles everything from grant writing, reporting to the United States Department of Education, supporting instructors, supervising staff, coordinating program outings, communication with the university, communication with parents and students, trainings, financial management, hiring, and so much more. She always does it with a smile on her face and is a joy to see, talk to, and work with every single day. Something also worth noting is that Leny is working tirelessly to prepare the new Director for this upcoming summer academy. By securing courses and instructors, selecting new students, and coordinating the logistics of the summer, Leny will surely make the transition for the new Director a piece of cake. Leny is loved by all. She genuinely cares about her job and the people she works with, and does her best to recognize the great work that they do. It is our turn to recognize Leny for all of her greatness. Throughout the years, she has touched the lives of hundreds of underserved (low-income and first-generation) high school students in the Seattle School District. Aside from this, Leny loves gardening, spending time at the YMCA, and knows how to boogie on a dance floor. Leny holds a B.A. in Education and an M.A. in British Literature.
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