Mary Ann Leak
December 17, 1944 - January 17, 2006
Mary Ann Leak was born December 17, 1944 in the District of Columbia to Mrs. Emma Blue Leak and Mr. Willie Gus Leak, a World War II veteran. She was the second of their eventual seven children. As a child, Ms. Leak was quite successful in school and distinguished herself as an academic. She was most notably an avid reader, with an insatiable thirst for knowledge and truth. At the unfortunate age of 15, her father passed away unexpectedly. She and her siblings subsequently relocated to New Haven, Connecticut to live with their mother’s family.
Ms. Leak completed high school in New Haven and graduated from James Hillhouse High School in 1962 as a member of the National Honor Society. She began working immediately after high school to help support her family. Her first jobs were as a medical secretary at Yale New Haven Medical Center and as a clerk typist for Southern New England Telephone Company.
Her collegiate academic life began in 1964 when she matriculated to Quinnipiac College to study accounting. She left the program in the first year to start a family and was wed on September 5, 1965 to her high school sweetheart. Her husband was soon drafted into the Army and stationed in West Germany. In 1966, Ms. Leak moved to Germany to be with him and the couple had their first child, Danielle Christine, born January 25th, 1967 in Neubrueke, West Germany.
Ms. Leak returned to the United States later that year, with her new family. She reentered the workforce immediately, beginning as a secretary with the Anti-Poverty Program of the nonprofit Community Progress Inc. She remained there until June of 1968, when she began her career with the City of New Haven. Ms. Leak began as a secretary at the city’s Urban (Housing) Renewal Program, known at the time as the New Haven Redevelopment Agency. However, her talent for numbers and organizational management was quickly tapped within the city’s Housing and Urban Renewal Programs. Between 1968 and 1985, she was promoted from: Secretary to Research Assistant to Administrative Assistant to Mortgage Specialist to Finance Coordinator and ultimately to Rehabilitations Program Manager for the Office of Housing and Neighborhood Development.
In 1976, Ms. Leak gave birth to her second child, Julian. She later divorced in 1983. Ms. Leak returned to school while working full time and raising two children as a single parent. She completed her undergraduate degree with the University of New Haven in Accounting and Business Administration and continued on to obtain a Masters in Human Services Administration from Antioch New England Graduate School in 1987.
In the 25 years in which she remained employed with the City of New Haven, Ms. Leak received various certifications, distinctions and awards. At the time of her “retirement” in 1993, she held the position of Director of Program Monitoring and Evaluation for the city’s Human Resources Administration.
Ms. Leak believed strongly in professional development and the importance of community service. Throughout her career and in her retirement, she remained a member of The National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Clubs Inc. (NABPW), the National Association of Black Social Workers and the New Haven Chapter of the NAACP. Furthermore, she demonstrated her passion for philanthropy as a regular volunteer and contributor to the Special Olympics; as chairwoman of the classical vocal arts competition for NABPW, and as a mentor to many young adults both in and outside her family. She diligently instilled these values in her children, as well as the importance of education as a life-long learning process. Her commitment to the latter was most impressively epitomized by her return to school at the age of fifty-nine to pursue a Juris Doctorate from Cooley Law School in Lansing, Michigan.
Sadly, Ms. Leak passed away before realizing her dream of becoming an attorney. On January 17, 2006 she succumbed unexpectedly to a cerebral aneurysm at her home in Connecticut. She is survived by her two children, four grandchildren, great-granddaughter, sisters Diane White and Gladys Burford, brothers James & Benjamin Leak, in addition to numerous extended family members. Her legacy, however, will endure through The Mary Leak Foundation.