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Leslie King

Director of the Rivers Institute


College of Arts and Sciences: Fitz Center


Email: Leslie King
Phone: 937-229-4665
Website: Visit Site


Leslie King is the director of the Rivers Institute at the University of Dayton, since July 2009. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from West Virginia University, where she studied Environmental Protection and International Protected Area Management in four countries; Malaysia, Borneo, Peru and Nepal. Working with the Mountain Institute in remote mountain communities, Leslie developed a background and interest in community-based natural resource management. Leslie worked as a naturalist in coastal Alaska and spent several years as an outdoor and environmental educator at a school based in Costa Rica.

When returning to the states, Leslie found a home in higher education, facilitating immersion and theme based study abroad experiences at Antioch Education Abroad. This led to her current role at UD, where she then received a Master’s Degree in Public Administration and a Certificate in Non-profit and Community Leadership from the University of Dayton.

For over 20 years, Leslie has been educating and inspiring the next generation of environmental and sustainability leaders. At UD, Leslie leads the River Stewards, a three-year trans-disciplinary and experiential-based program, focused on developing undergraduate leadership and civic engagement skills around our local rivers and water resources. Using an asset-based model and watershed lens for community development, Leslie has developed a curriculum and leadership program, which trains students in developing solutions to the complex issues and problems communities face, in regards to sustainability, and environmental and social justice. Leslie sits on many community boards, including Five Rivers MetroParks Foundation, Bike Miami Valley, Little Miami Watershed Network and Greater Dayton Partners for the Environment.

Originally, from Dayton, Leslie and her husband are happy to raise their two children surrounded by extended family.

Staff Perspective

"I am excited about sharing local waterway knowledge with UD students, engaging them in the Dayton region, and collaborating with the community to make the Rivers Institute's vision, of reuniting Dayton and its rivers, a reality. The leadership and civic engagement skills students develop in the program are transferable to many different aspects of their life. It is incredibly rewarding to see the River Stewards make these connections to their academic courses, study abroad experiences, co-ops, future career plan and overall personal growth. In the warmer months, if you can't find me in the office, I am out enjoying the amazing recreation and water trails in our watershed. I challenge you to explore our rivers and help build community around our region's greatest asset."