Leanne Soulard, Manager of School Partnerships, New England

Born and raised in Lowell, Massachusetts, birthplace of Jack Kerouac, Milton Bradley, Bette Davis, and Micky Ward (the boxer memorialized in the 2010 film The Fighter), Leanne follows a long line of scrappy Lowellians hell-bent on making their way in the world.  In Leanne's case, "making her way" meant setting out for the University of New England in Biddeford, Maine (population 8,177, counting moose), where she began preparing for a career in physical therapy.  Sometime during her first semester, Leanne realized physical therapy often involves "touching old people with hip problems," and so she decided to switch majors to English (which only rarely requires touching old people).  As Leanne made her way through the classics, discovering the works of Oscar Wilde, D.H. Lawrence, Graham Greene, and Charlotte Brontë, she began entertaining dreams of being a famous writer living in London, composing long, romantic novels about people named Cecil and Amelia and hobnobbing among the city's tweed-wearing literati.  Though that aspiration didn't quite pan out (Leanne hasn't written any novels about people named Cecil and Amelia and she isn't Facebook friends with Martin Amis or J.K. Rowling), she did earn a Master's Degree in Education from Cambridge College and a certificate in College Counseling from UCLA, credentials that serve her well in her role at Catalyst.  As Catalyst's Manager of School Partnerships in New England, Leanne brings our "wicked good" SAT and ACT prep programs to schools throughout Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont.  (Essentially, everywhere people drop their r's, worship Tom Brady, and say things like "Just because a cat has her kittens in the oven doesn't make them biscuits," a folksy saying that means "Just because someone's from here doesn't make them one of us.")  When Leanne isn't pulling up her L.L. Bean boots and braving the cold to talk to parents about test prep, she enjoys practicing yoga and seeing live music with her husband.  (Most recent concerts: Tom Petty and Foster the People.)

Why She Works for Catalyst

Prior to becoming Catalyst's Manager of School Partnerships in New England, Leanne was the head of guidance at one of our partner schools in Massachusetts.  During her tenure as a counselor, Leanne saw how effective our ACT and SAT programs are and decided to join our team.  Though Leanne misses one-on-one time with students and aches for the endless paperwork that accompanied every meeting, assessment, and recommendation, she takes great solace in knowing she's helping even more students now that's she one of us. 

How the Universe Has Punished Her for Being a Freakishly Good Test-Taker

Some people are scared of spiders.  Others, bees.  Leanne's source of anguish and terror?  Wasps.  (The flying insects that inhabit nests, not the racquet-sports-loving Caucasians that inhabit Connecticut.)  Leanne is so petrified of these yellow-jacketed creatures that even the slightest sound of buzzing causes her to run around in circles, arms flailing, swatting at the air and screaming "Get away from me! Get away from me!" (This is followed by approximately three hours spent maniacally running her fingers through her hair to make sure there aren't any "miniature flying demons" hiding in there.)  Unafraid to practice unlicensed Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, we, her concerned colleagues, have tried soothing Leanne by calmly explaining that many species of wasps don't even build their nests above ground, preferring instead to conceal their nests in cool, dry places like the space right below one's front porch, but for some reason, that strategy doesn't seem to have done the trick. 

Favorite 80s Movie / Favorite 80s Nobel Laureate

Better Off Dead / Susumu Tonegawa (Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1987)