Alumni Profile

Leslie (Grimard ’10) Ford

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Alumni Profile

Leslie (Grimard ’10) Ford

Leslie Ford’s public policy career has taken her to Capitol Hill and even the White House.

Autumn 2022 | Celeste Fortenberry

In This Article

When lawmakers, government workers, and even the president of the United States are making decisions, it’s essential that the right advisors are in the room, says Leslie (Grimard ’10) Ford.

Leslie tries to be the right advisor, in the room where it happens.

She’s a wife, mother, and public policy pro who’s worked on Capitol Hill (with Senator Mike Lee of Utah) and in President Donald Trump’s White House. She advises state governments and nonprofits. She’s a visiting fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a Washington think tank. Her focus is policies that impact vulnerable families and children: foster care and workforce reform, Medicaid, food and nutrition programs, and other safety nets. She takes a holistic approach, because social spending is more than a fiscal decision.

“The ideas we have about people inform how we structure the safety net, which then informs the way they live out marriage and family and how they work.” Healthcare, too: it’s a “centerpiece of domestic policy”; spending deci- sions inevitably influence and control moral decisions.

Leslie grew up in California. She attended a classical high school with connections to Thomas Aquinas College. When it came time to choose a college, though, she chose Franciscan University.

Leslie started as a Great Books Honors Program and political science major but found that humanities and Catholic culture was a better fit for her : Each semester she studied history, politics, literature, and culture, and their interconnectedness, along with the “big ideas” that influenced each time period.

A “holistic approach” to education, in fact.

“Every third class with Professor Jim Gaston was a light bulb moment” in seeing the crosscurrents of culture and acquiring analytical tools.“Even 10 years later I’m drawing on that education.”

Leslie started at Heritage, where her portfolio included religious freedom, life issues, marriage, and welfare. She moved to Senator Lee’s office to be closer to policy implementation.Then she moved into the Trump Administration to manage the safety-net portfolio of the domestic policy council.

“I left the White House in April of 2020,” says Leslie. “I was pregnant with our third child, and COVID had, understandably, sucked all the oxygen out of my work.”

Leslie met her husband, Stephen Ford, in D.C.They have three children— Ava, Connor, and Asher—and they live in Alexandria,Virginia.
“There are wonderful aspects of our faith, and incredible ways to apply it,” says Leslie.“I’m attempting the live out the faith as a wife and a mom and apply the principles I’ve learned to affect public policy.”

Leslie Ford received the 2022 Fr. Dan Egan Alumni Award for her success in the area of human services.

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