Leslie J. Sawyer headshot

Leslie J. Sawyer

President & Chief Executive Officer

Leslie J. Sawyer is President and CEO of Environmental Design International inc. (EDI), and has been leading the firm since August 2016.

A member of the EDI Board of Directors since 1998, Leslie brought more than 30 years of executive experience to the firm. Leslie’s background includes policy development and program design, management, and implementation particularly in the areas of public health, human services, higher education administration, college access, and workforce development and training.

Like her late sister Deborah M. Sawyer who founded EDI in 1991, Leslie is devoted to encouraging students in underserved communities—especially diverse young women—to pursue Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education and subsequent career paths. She is also deeply committed to supporting other woman-owned and minority-owned businesses grow and flourish.

These passions are reflected in Leslie’s board and community service that included the Innovations in Construction, Asphalt & Transportation (ICAT) which strongly advocated for woman and minority-owned construction and engineering firms in Illinois. While ICAT ended its operations in 2020, Leslie had been an active member for nearly five years. Each year since 2017, Leslie also funded and chaired the selection committee for the Deborah M. Sawyer – ICAT STEM Student Scholarship Awards for college-bound disadvantaged Peoria High School students.

Leslie is also an Associated Colleges of Illinois (ACI) Board of Trustees and Program Committee Member. The missions of ACI and EDI intersect on education, especially STEM education, for disadvantaged and diverse students. To that end, Leslie privately, and through EDI, has funded a scholarship in her sister Deborah’s name for STEM students enrolled in one of ACI’s 26 member colleges and universities in Illinois.

In addition, Leslie recently became a member of The Chicago Network, and she is an active supporter of Gilda’s Club Chicago. She is a Governing Board Member, and past fundraiser for their efforts to provide support and programming for cancer patients and their loved ones.

A native of Columbus, Ohio, Leslie earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree from Lake Forest College in Lake Forest, Illinois. She also holds a Master of Arts Degree in Communication from Eastern New Mexico University in Portales, New Mexico.