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Mary-Simon-LeuciAt the time Mary Simon Leuci embarked on a four-month journey to Sri Lanka in 1980, she had no idea just how deeply this experience would impact her life. As part of the International Four-H Youth Exchange (IFYE) program, her goal was to become immersed in the host culture in order to promote peace. The welcoming nature that she received from the Sri Lankan people – their willingness to open their homes, minds, and hearts to an “outsider” – immediately resonated with a passion she would later connect to community development.

As Mary explains, “The process of working together to create something we cannot do alone and the excitement of these collective ideas and actions taking shape always captures me. I definitely draw personal satisfaction and energy from seeing people thinking and working together [with the collective goal] to make something possible for them, their neighbors, and future generations.”

There are a number of levels behind Mary’s love of community development. At the surface, there is the joy of directly benefiting people through uplifting their surroundings. On a deeper level, Mary serves as an “international ambassador of peace.” She thrives by connecting people from different backgrounds and uniting them in a quest to create vibrant local economies.

This passion continues to guide Mary in her private and professional endeavors. For more on Mary’s story, see her contribution in “Women as Healers: Voices of Vibrancy.”