Leslie Bradley, of Jefferson City, is fully moving next month into the role of director of federal programs for the Missouri Department of Mental Health's Division of Developmental Disabilities.
Something that's not changing for Bradley is that she's "always been able to get such rewards from seeing the difference you can see in someone's life (by) helping them and helping to support them," she said.
Born and raised in Marshall, Bradley had planned to becoming an English teacher on the secondary level, but a psychology class and its professor — Jane Bartlett — at Missouri Valley College got her excited about that field.
After college, Bradley worked in the state's Children's Division investigating and managing child abuse cases. She transferred to the Department of Health and Senior Services to be a case worker and supervisor, worked in the private sector for a while, then came back to public work for the Department of Mental Health.
"I felt like it was important," she said of what brought her back from the private sector, as well as that she enjoyed the work she did with the state.
Bradley has been with the Department of Mental Health for about 12 years.
She's leaving a senior programs specialist position to be the federal programs director of her division. She's been a member of the federal programs team since 2016.
In short, those programs are how the state provides home and community-based services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to help them avoid institutionalization.
"It's about individuals having the most integrated life possible," she said.
For the state, that involves keeping track of applications, costs, services offered and reports on individuals served, and making sure requirements and regulations are met.
"We do a lot of technical work," Bradley said.
She's also been selected as a member of the next Missouri Leadership Academy class — a program for state workers that develops leaders in the state's 16 executive departments — and has completed the Lean Six Sigma Green Belt training and certification.
The Lean Six Sigma program is about learning how to improve business processes, make them more efficient and improve customer services.
Bradley also has a master's degree in social gerontology and volunteers for hospice. "That's also a passion I have," she said; she's been doing that for about three years.
She worked closely with hospice while at DHSS, and she was also inspired to give back by how great hospice workers were with her grandmother.
Bradley and her husband have been married more than 18 years. They enjoy crappie fishing with her dad and traveling.