When it comes to feeding the body, mind, spirit, and soul, Lenore “Leni” Uddyback-Fortson ’90, M.G.A., found her sweet spot. An accomplished public relations and communications strategist, this Bryant alumna has worked for the United States Department of Labor for 23 years – currently as Regional Director of Public Affairs in Greater Philadelphia – and also has taught at various colleges for 22 years – everything from communication-related to social justice courses.
Uddyback-Fortson, who received a Master’s in Government Administration from University of Pennsylvania, recommends people looking for a new career or career change to look no further than USA Jobs. “The government is hiring! The possibilities are many and varied.” More than openings, though, are the opportunities to develop individual skills and specialized projects. “I am honored to work for the U.S. Labor Department, which offers abundant options to learn, grow, and advance,” she says. “Find a mentor, then be a mentor. Continue the good work."
On top of these two fulfilling careers, she nurtures her creativity with a notecard business and through several published books of poetry. “These pursuits feed my spirit and soul,” says Uddyback-Fortson, who credits both her late mother and Bryant with the interest and drive to put pen-to-paper and express her thoughts. “My mother was a social worker and used to host local teens, including my sister, in Peekskill, NY, in drama and poetry workshops when I was very young. It was a way for them to constructively process local race riots,” she explains. “But it wasn’t until my senior year at Bryant when my final Creative Writing project was to submit 20 poems that I decided to formally try my hand at writing poetry.” She describes her poetry as “inspirational with a nod toward my Christian walk.” Her faith and desire to serve are important to her.
When she’s not working, teaching, writing, and creating, this mother and wife is finding ways to reconnect with her alma mater in Rhode Island. “I chose Bryant because it was a perfect location for me to get my first taste of independence while still being a few hours’ drive from home,” says Uddyback-Fortson. It was a bit of a culture shock to be one of very few people of color at Bryant in the mid-1980s, but she found her “tribe” in her sophomore year, and they still interact almost daily. “We feel blessed to love and support each other.”
Recently, she virtually served as a mentor during Bryant’s IDEA Program – a three-day immersive design thinking “boot camp,” that opens students to approaching problem-solving innovatively. This March, she traveled back to campus to participate on the Bridging the Gap panel, designed for Bryant students of color. “I was awestruck by all the improvements and changes on campus,” says Uddyback-Fortson. “Bryant graduates are well-positioned to take on life and career after school,” she continued. “Bryant’s overarching approach to education seems to hit the mark – they’re always looking far ahead and making adjustments along the way. This is key to success. From where I sit, it’s great to be a part of the Bryant community.”