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Justice, Fairness, Inclusion, and Performance.

Meet the Academy: Tony Spearman-Leach

Tony Spearman-Leach, Director of Business Development and Philanthropy

What is your role and primary responsibilities at the Academy?

The Academy’s Business Development and Philanthropy team works to secure contracts and philanthropic engagement that align with our US Congressional Charter, 2022 – 2027 Strategic Plan, and mission and vision. We are also responsible for contract management and reporting. We manage all aspects of fundraising and philanthropic engagement in collaboration with the Academy’s CEO Terry Gerton. Our team also works directly with the Academy’s Fellowship through the Development Committee and the Standing Panel on Social Equity. The Academy’s Business Development and Philanthropy team is responsible for revenue generation and diversification for the Academy’s operations.

What do you like best about working at the Academy?

The people I work with – both Fellows and staff – inspire and motivate me as we work toward our shared vision of fostering and advancing “A just, fair, and inclusive government that strengthens communities and protects democracy.” Working with the Academy’s passionate community for “Justice, Fairness, Inclusion, and Performance” for all is the best feature of our workplace.

Which of the 12 Grand Challenges in Public Administration resonates the most with you?

Among the Academy’s 12 Grand Challenges in Public Administration, I am most passionate about the challenge to “Connect Individuals to Meaningful Work” ( It is a challenge that directly and indirectly is inextricably woven within all of the 12 Grand Challenges. As Jim Collins, author of “Good to Great,” once said, “It is impossible to have a great life unless it is a meaningful life. And it is very difficult to have a meaningful life without meaningful work.”

My volunteer efforts with Excelsior University, the Association for Fundraising Professionals, Story Tapestries, the Josiah Henson Museum and Park, and the Friends of the Library Montgomery County with our work on the Montgomery County Public Library’s FY2017-2020 Strategic Plan, reflect my unrelenting personal commitment and efforts toward positively advancing that specific Grand Challenge. Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, founder and executive chairman of the XPRIZE Foundation, said, “The folks who go after grand challenges are impatient. They’re pissed off. They’re sick and tired, but in a passionate way. They’re driven by a fire in their bellies to make a difference.” Indeed, the Grand Challenge to “Connect Individuals to Meaningful Work” is definitely one area in which I would like to make a difference.

Why is public service important to you?

Public service is incorporated into every strand of my DNA. It is a part of the legacy that my family shares with me. My great-grandfather, Wade H. Spearman, was the first African American elected post-Reconstruction to a North Carolina city council. My grandfather, Robert L. Hardin, was a pioneering African American epidemiologist for the State of North Carolina. My mother, Gayle S. Leach, is a retired State of Michigan librarian and former trustee of the Library of the State of Michigan.

Following in my family’s footsteps, I served in the U.S. Senate for Michigan’s U.S. Senator E. Spencer Abraham; Michigan Governor John Engler appointed me to two 3-year terms on the Michigan Board of Physical Therapy; and Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer appointed me to the Downtown Detroit Citizen’s District Council and the Southeast Michigan HIV/AIDS Council (SEMHAC) to serve the residents and address their most pressing needs. The Academy’s esteemed Fellow, Governor Douglas Wilder said it best, “You don't ever earn a right to stop doing anything if you feel there is an obligation to move in terms of public service.” My work at the Academy – although not within one of the branches of government - continues my journey on this path of service to others.

What is your favorite hobby or interest outside of the office?

Books are my favorite indulgence. I am a bibliophile. You can often find me among the miles of bookcases in Rockville’s Second Story Books and FOLMC bookstores. It’s no surprise that I am the son of a librarian. And, yes, “The Librarians” is one of my former favorite television programs.

What is your favorite travel destination, either past or future?

Mackinac Island in Michigan remains my absolute favorite travel destination. The island’s setting and atmosphere combine my loves of history and nature’s beauty with the ability to escape life’s hustle and bustle through the island’s ban on nearly all motor vehicles. Mackinac Island is also the setting for one of my old movie favorites, “Somewhere in Time.” Watching the fog roll in over the straits with the Mackinac Bridge as a backdrop is a favorite pastime of mine.

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