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Leigh Kessler '93

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Leigh Kessler '93
Leigh Kessler '93

What grades did you attend Bullis? What year did you graduate?
9-12th grades, Class of ‘93

Where did you attend college and what is your occupation?
Brandeis University - VP of Marketing for a software company that works with nonprofits. Started my career as a Standup comedian.

What activities or classes were most memorable for you as you reflect on your time at Bullis?
Lunch. I loved family style seating. And I loved that it was assigned. I remember my freshman year sitting with older people. And you think of awkward Hollywood movie lunch rooms with scared freshmen and I loved that I didn’t have to deal with that. It was really inclusive and I think shaped my four years.

How did Bullis best prepare you for college and beyond?
Bullis was really important in teaching me to never think “oh, I can’t do that”. There was enormous opportunity if you wanted to try something. And it made me comfortable with the idea that I could be, do, or try anything.

Please tell us about what you have been doing since graduating from Bullis.
Started as a standup comedian. Now I market software. I love both. I moved back from NYC in 2011 with a young daughter and another one on the way. Now, 10 years later, my wife works at Bullis and the “one on the way” just finished third grade there.  

Which part of your journey has been most rewarding?
I have done so many fun things in life - from skydiving to getting a tattoo to doing stand up comedy. And I love that at this stage, when I look back at the ride so far, it’s been thrilling, and full of incredible experiences. But the most rewarding thing so far has definitely been having a wife and two daughters who just make it so much fun to go through together.

What would you say to Bullis students who are currently on their journey to finding purpose?
I would say that many of the people who I have found to be happiest in life with their job can trace their occupation to something they loved as a kid. It may not be the exact same thing but it uses the same muscles. And when you can do that, you tend to love your job. And loving your job is a great source of happiness in life.

Who is someone that inspires you and how?
One of my heroes to this day is the late Mike Ivey, class of ‘91. When I was a freshman, Mike was a junior and the star of everything - star Quarterback, star basketball player,  and beloved by every student and every teacher. To a nobody freshman like me, he was like a celebrity on campus. But my sophomore year, I went from a terrible lineman in football to Mike’s backup quarterback. And because of that, we spent a lot of time together during football and we developed this really amazing relationship. Seeing him up close, working with him everyday, and getting to know him in such a personal way, I saw how he interacted with people - and how he could make people feel so good by being sincere. And I think the idea of “ sincerity being a virtue” is really important to me and something I saw in Mike with everyone - and yet truly felt it in our friendship too. Mike passed away tragically his sophomore year in college. Thirty years later, I still think of him all the time, and still consider him one of the coolest guys I’ve ever known.

What is the best book or production that you have read, watched, or listened to lately?
I just saw a documentary called It Starts with a Song about country music writers in Nashville. I’ve loved country music all of my life, particularly the imagery, stories, and use of words. But watching the process, I was amazed to discover how similar it is to writing stand up comedy.  To realize after all of this time how closely they resemble each other,  made me realize there was likely this common thread between the two styles that attracted me to both even as a kid.

What global challenge would you like to see tackled and how do you see yourself contributing to the positive change that you desire?
I’m trying to create nice, thoughtful, and empathetic daughters who respect people of all kinds. Because the biggest challenge I see in the world is just too many people who aren’t nice and don’t respect others.

Why would you tell a prospective family to choose Bullis?
It is impossible to come out of the last year and not see Bullis’ phenomenal commitment to educating every single child enrolled in the school. I saw it at the institutional level with the dedication and courage they showed in being the first school in the area to commit to staying open through COVID and I see it at the one-on-one level with the care and commitment I see in helping my own child grow and improve as a student. I am incredibly proud of the school as a parent and alum and I am incredibly proud to be associated with it.

  • Alumni
  • Class of 1993