About

 

Professional Bios & Photos

Looking for my professional bio and photos? Click here. Scroll down to read my short bios #1, #2, and #3. Feel free to use them to promote interviews and events I participate in.

Wanna know more about my mindfulness journey and chameleon career? Read The Story of Moi below. Check out the native society’s 2019 Q&A about my life and service and my feature as a Well-Being Warrior for the Well-Being and Equity Bridging Network (scroll down to see my feature).

Wondering what #ThrivingMindfully means? Listen to the #ThrivingMindfully Podcast episode where I share the meaning of Thriving Mindfully and how it helps me practice gratitude.

Gifts for You

Here are four special gifts I created especially for you!

  • Watch the #ThrivingMindfully Video Series and be inspired.
  • Join my growing community of #ThrivingMindfully Podcast listeners (100 episodes on meditation, mindfulness, mindful creativity, mindful leadership, mindful living, mindful self-care, mindful at work, and mindful technology are waiting for you)
  • Expand your mindfulness practice with my support as a member of A Mindful Cup of Tea Facebook Group.
  • If you are in the DC metropolitan area, attend the #ThrivingMindfully Meetup Group events.

How to Keep Up with Me

 

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Professional Bio & Photos

Go here for my professional bio and photos.

Short Bio #1

Ananda Leeke discovered mindfulness when her career as a young lawyer and investment banker did not produce the level of success she expected. During her healing journey, she studied and practiced meditation, yoga, reiki, journaling, art-making, and creative writing. They helped her develop self-care practices and become resilient. As a result, she became a certified yoga and mindfulness teacher, reiki master practitioner, and artist-in-residence for the Smith Center for Healing and the Arts.

Today, she  listens to her heart and follows her intuition to help people, businesses, organizations, and communities become resilient and thrive with mindfulness, self-care, and creativity as the Chief Mindfulness Officer of Ananda Leeke Consulting, a personal and professional development firm. In addition, she hosts and produces the Thriving Mindfully Show on Eaton Radio and teaches meditation classes and mindfulness workshops at Qi Kratom CBD Tea. In 2019, she was selected by lululemon to serve as a lululemon luminary, received Acquisition International’s Influential Businesswoman in Professional Development – USA Award, and was named a Well-Being Warrior by the Well-Being and Equity Bridging Network.

Her books, Love’s Troubadours, a yoga-inspired novel; That Which Awakens Me, a mindful creativity memoir; and Digital Sisterhood, a mindful technology memoir, are available on Amazon. She speaks at conferences and events sponsored by AT&T, Automattic, BlogHer, Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Eaton DC, Howard University, Institute for Medicaid Innovation, lululemon, Marisla Foundation, Meetup/WeWork, National Association of Corporate Directors, Nonprofit Technology Network, Spelman College, The Conference Board, and Wonder Women Tech Summit. In addition, she regularly shares her meditation, mindfulness, and social media expertise as a commentator on WHUR 96.3 FM. Learn more at AnandaLeeke.com.

Short Bio #2

Ananda Leeke discovered mindfulness when her career as a young lawyer and investment banker did not produce the level of success she expected. During her healing journey, she studied and practiced meditation, yoga, reiki, journaling, art-making, and creative writing. They helped her develop self-care practices and become resilient. As a result, she became a certified yoga and mindfulness teacher, reiki master practitioner, and artist-in-residence for the Smith Center for Healing and the Arts.

Today, she listens to her heart and follows her intuition to help people, businesses, organizations, and communities become resilient and thrive with mindfulness, self-care, and creativity as the Chief Mindfulness Officer of Ananda Leeke Consulting, a personal and professional development firm. In addition, she hosts and produces the Thriving Mindfully Show on Eaton Radio and teaches meditation classes and mindfulness workshops at Qi Kratom CBD Tea. She received Acquisition International’s Influential Businesswoman Award for the Most Caring Woman in Mindfulness Training and WeUpWomen’s Adelaide Smith Award for her work in self-care and wellness in 2018. In 2019, she was selected by lululemon to serve as a lululemon luminary, received Acquisition International’s Influential Businesswoman in Professional Development – USA Award, and was named a Well-Being Warrior by the Well-Being and Equity Bridging Network.

Her books, Love’s Troubadours, a yoga-inspired novel; That Which Awakens Me, a mindful creativity memoir; and Digital Sisterhood, a mindful technology memoir, are available on Amazon. She is currently writing Lighthouse: A Memoir of Thriving Mindfully. She speaks at conferences and events sponsored by AT&T, Automattic, BlogHer, Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Eaton DC, Executive Women International, Howard University, Institute for Medicaid Innovation, Latinos in Tech Innovation and Social Media, Marisla Foundation, Meetup/WeWork, National Association of Corporate Directors, Nonprofit Technology Network, Sisterhued, Spelman College, The Conference Board, Unity of Washington, DC, Washington National Cathedral, Web of Change, and Wonder Women Tech Summit. In addition, she regularly shares her meditation, mindfulness, and social media expertise as a commentator on WHUR 96.3 FM.

She is a proud alumna of Georgetown University Law Center, Howard University School of Law, Morgan State University, and Elizabeth Seton High School. She is a member of Unity of Washington, DC (meditation and reiki ministries), Insight Meditation Community of Washington, DC’s People of Color Sangha, and Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. She lives in Washington, DC. Learn more at AnandaLeeke.com.

Short Bio #3

Ananda Kiamsha Madelyn Leeke discovered mindfulness when her career as a young lawyer and investment banker did not produce the level of success she expected. During her healing journey, she studied and practiced meditation, yoga, reiki, journaling, art-making, and creative writing. They helped her develop self-care practices and become resilient. As a result, she became a certified yoga and mindfulness teacher, reiki master practitioner, and artist-in-residence for the Smith Center for Healing and the Arts.

She defines mindfulness as “a human birthright and practice. Each of us is born with the ABILITY TO BE AWARE of what’s happening in our spirit, heart, mind, body, and surroundings. Mindfulness is also a practice that we can CHOOSE to PAY ATTENTION to what’s happening in our spirit, heart, mind, body and surroundings ON PURPOSE in the PRESENT MOMENT and WITHOUT JUDGMENT. We can use the power of our breath to practice mindfulness. Taking a deep breath intentionally brings us into the present moment where we can access awareness, balance, and calm with loving kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity. When we practice mindfulness, it becomes the gateway to who we truly are.”

Today, she listens to her heart and follows her intuition to help people, businesses, organizations, and communities become resilient and thrive with mindfulness, self-care, and creativity as the Chief Mindfulness Officer of Ananda Leeke Consulting, a personal and professional development firm. In addition, she hosts and produces the Thriving Mindfully Show on Eaton Radio and teaches meditation classes and mindfulness workshops at Qi Kratom CBD Tea.

She received Acquisition International’s Influential Businesswoman Award for the Most Caring Woman in Mindfulness Training and WeUpWomen’s Adelaide Smith Award for her work in self-care and wellness in 2018. In 2019, she was selected by lululemon to serve as a lululemon luminary, received Acquisition International’s Influential Businesswoman in Professional Development – USA Award, and was named a Well-Being Warrior by the Well-Being and Equity Bridging Network.

Her books, Love’s Troubadours, a yoga-inspired novel; That Which Awakens Me, a mindful creativity memoir; and Digital Sisterhood, a mindful technology memoir, are available on Amazon. She is currently writing Thriving Mindfully. She speaks at conferences and events  sponsored by AT&T, Automattic, BlogHer, Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Executive Women International, Howard University, Institute for Medicaid Innovation, Latinos in Tech Innovation and Social Media, lululemon, Marisla Foundation, Meetup/WeWork, National Association of Corporate Directors, Nonprofit Technology Network, Sisterhued, Smith Center for Healing and the Arts, Spelman College, The Conference Board, Unity of Washington, DC, Washington National Cathedral, Web of Change, and Wonder Women Tech Summit. In addition, she regularly shares her meditation, mindfulness, and social media expertise as a commentator on WHUR 96.3 FM.

She is a proud alumna of Georgetown University Law Center, Howard University School of Law, Morgan State University, and Elizabeth Seton High School. She is a member of Unity of Washington, DC (meditation and reiki ministries), Insight Meditation Community of Washington, DC’s People of Color Sangha, and Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. She lives in Washington, DC. Learn more at AnandaLeeke.com.

ALWebsite-StoryofMoi

Childhood

Michigan born. Maryland raised. Elizabeth Seton and Morgan State educated. Howard and Georgetown Law trained. I am the only daughter of Theresa and John Leeke, two groovy people who raised me and my three brothers Mike, Mark, and Matt to be free in how we live and express ourselves during the late 1960s and 1970s. Our rose and white house on Manson Place in Landover, Maryland was filled with an abundance of love, creativity, conversation, laughter, music, a dog named Clarence, books, and magazines.

AnandaLeeke-LeekeChildren

My bedroom was painted hot pink and lavender. It was my sanctuary. The place where I felt most at home. The place where I dreamed in the dark about being an artist+writer+ radio host+lawyer, colored on paper and the walls, drew pictures with magic markers, read and wrote poetry in lower case letters like poet ntozake shange, practiced dance moves I borrowed from Soul Train and American Bandstand, and listened to the sounds of the Supremes, Temptations, and Jackson Five.

My Girlhood Collage by Ananda Leeke (2008)
My Girlhood Collage by Ananda Leeke (2008)

How I Became An Artist & Writer

My mother, Theresa is the most creative person I know. She used her studies and experience as a musician and early childhood teacher to teach my brothers and I that CREATIVITY IS IMAGINATION. Mommy encouraged us to use our imagination to create art, poetry, greeting cards, science projects, toys, and spaces we could play in. Also, she taught us how to make our own Play Dough from scratch. We used it to sculpt animals, trees, flowers, cars, buildings, and people. On rainy days, she told us to use our imagination to create fun times. My brother, Mike, a comic book graphic artist, was often the leader. One rainy day, he drew guitars on cardboard boxes so we could imitate the Jackson Five with our neighbor Stan. We cut the guitars out and used magic markers to decorate them.

During our winter, spring, and summer breaks from school, my mother made sure we visited the Smithsonian to learn about art, culture, history, and music in the U.S. and world. Our museum visits inspired me to take an art appreciation class during my freshmen year at Elizabeth Seton High School. That class opened the door to my love affair with French impressionism, Frida Kahlo, and the Japanese Edo period.

AnandaLeeke-Writer2

My high school years were fertile ground for my poetry writing. Most of it was inspired by the work of Dr. Maya Angelou, Emily Dickinson, Nikki Giovanni, Langston Hughes, and ntozake shange. It happened while I was walking and delivering the Washington Post in my neighborhood, riding the bus and subway on my way home from school, and  sitting in my room listening to the music of Billie Holiday and the Quiet Storm, an evening program on WHUR 96.3 FM. Poetry is where I found my voice as a teenager. It helped me see myself for myself.

Legal Career Journey

My love affair with creativity was interrupted in my junior year by a passionate new lover called Practical Law, a class I desperately wanted to take, but could not because it was offered to seniors. When I expressed my interest in the class, the teacher encouraged me to submit a request to take it and prepare an argument to persuade her. Guess what? I did it and took the class in my junior year. It was life changing. At 16, I began the journey of becoming a lawyer.

My decision to pursue a legal career gave me a clear goal. Everything I did for the remainder of high school and during college was geared towards my legal career. My Morgan State University advisor, Dr. Sandye Jean McIntyre helped me develop a four-year plan that included my French major, Spanish minor, G.P.A., extracurricular activities, internships, honors, and awards. With the support of my parents, family, friends, Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, mentors, Dr. McIntrye, and other professors, I was accepted into my first choice, Howard University School of Law.

Law school did not come easy for me. I struggled during my first year. That’s when I learned how to isolate myself and only focus on my legal studies and internships. This strategy helped me get the work done and obtain great experience. However, it hurt my ability to be fully present in my life and relationships. It opened the door to many unhealthy practices that included far too many days without adequate sleep, junk food, and self-medicating anxiety and fear with liquor. My life was out of balance and I didn’t know it.

AnandaLeeke-HULawGraduation

I wish I could say things got better after I graduated from law school and began working as a law clerk for Administrative Law Judge Robert E. Duncan at the U.S. Commodities Futures and Trading Commission, but they didn’t. Bar exam failures flooded my life. Depression set in. Instead of dealing with it, I pushed through. I went deeper into my isolation and focused on passing the bar exam.

One afternoon while I was chatting with Judge Duncan, he asked me what I planned to do once my clerkship ended. Honestly, I wasn’t sure how to answer the question because I didn’t want to work as a commodities and securities regulation attorney in the Federal Government. Recognizing my hesitation, he encouraged me to speak freely. I expressed my thoughts and fears. He welcomed them with an offer to brainstorm about my career plan. We talked about how much I loved to research and write. He suggested I consider teaching and earning a Master of Laws at Georgetown University Law Center. My face lit up with a smile. The next day I called Georgetown to request an application. A week later, we prepared and mailed it. When I showed him my acceptance letter, he hugged me and told me I could use my afternoons to complete my homework during the first semester. What a blessing!

My Georgetown experience was one of the most academically fulfilling experiences I ever had. I fell head over heels in love with investment banking. My advisor and  classmates were amazing. They worked in mid-level to senior positions in banks, government agencies, and law firms. Their advice on how I should pursue my newfound passion for investment banking was invaluable.

Healing Begins

By the time I graduated from Georgetown, I was clear about my career. It was investment banking all the way. The problem was I couldn’t find a job to save my life. That’s when the depression I had been dodging reared its ugly head. It flatlined me and drop kicked me into what I now know was a dark night of the soul. All my stuff I had refused to face came up. It was beyond overwhelming. I no longer found comfort in the Catholic Church I was raised in. My soul was lost.

Thankfully my parents stepped in and provided a lifeline that stabilized me emotionally and financially. Their support gave me space to heal and discover who I was becoming. Within an 18-month period, I reached out to my Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority sisters Kamaria Richmond and Karla Ray Thompson who exposed me to vegetarianism, self-care books and tools, African and Native American spiritual practices, and creative communities. Together, we explored our creativity as writers, Buddhist meditation, and other alternative healing practices.

After attending a women’s healing conference led by Dr. Iyanla Vanzant at Howard University in 1995, I joined First Sunday, a monthly meditation and prayer circle, that helped me face my fears with prayer and acceptance, develop a regular meditation and yoga practice, and nurtured my gifts as an artist, poet, speaker, and writer.

Creative Entrepreneurship

My healing journey transformed my emotional, physical, and spiritual health. It opened the door to a new life as a vegetarian, meditation practitioner, and creative entrepreneur.  It helped me find my voice as a writer and launch Sunsum Communications, a company that published my first collection of poetry, My Soul Speaks.

While pursuing my entrepreneurial efforts, I realized I needed to supplement my income with full-time employment that included health insurance and retirement benefits. So I accepted an offer to serve as the Debt Manager in the DC Office of the Treasurer. Working in municipal finance was stressful. My spiritual practices and writing calmed me most days. After one particular grueling municipal bond deal, I began using coathangers to create wire sculptures to release the stress.

AnandaLeeke-wiresculpture

My mentor Barbara Arnwine, former Executive Director of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, saw one of my sculptures peeking out of my bag during one of my visits to her office. Barbara asked me to explain what it was. Using my imagination, I told her it was a “Divine Diva” that celebrated the power women have to transform their lives. Without hesitation, she ordered 200 sculptures for the first African American Women and the Law Conference. Her order launched my career as a mixed media artist.

Leaping Into Investment Banking

Shortly after the African American Women and the Law Conference, I met Catherine Austin Fitts, the founder of the Hamilton Securities Group, Inc., a woman-owned investment bank and financial software firm that represented the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and launched a data servicing startup in DC public housing. I loved the way Austin and her team married their social justice commitment to investment banking. When I left DC Government a few months later, she offered me a position as a transaction manager for a $7 billion FHA mortgage deal.

While I was at Hamilton, she empowered me to release my investment banking career and create a new one in digital communications and intellectual property law management. With her encouragement and guidance, I learned how to negotiate a salary that reflected my worth, rise to a leadership position, and represent the firm at the U.N. Conference on Habitat in Istanbul, Turkey. My Hamilton days were exciting and exhausting all at the same time. Little did I know they were contributing to high levels of stress and anxiety.

Therapy Does in Fact Work!

My Hamilton experience ended abruptly a year and a half after it began. The U.S. Department of Justice sued the firm and froze its assets. Sadly, it closed its doors. On the flip side of this sad news, I became a business consultant. Six months in, I was overwhelmed again by anxiety, stress, and mounting financial obligations. Things got ugly! So I turned to therapy and worked with a phenomenal therapist for a few years.

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Therapy helped me ground myself from the inside out. It gave me back to myself and allowed me to choose a career path in nonprofit management that offered work-life balance, something I didn’t know I needed. It also gave me the courage to nurture my craft as an artist and writer while working with the Smith Center for Healing and the Arts, study yoga and reiki, and deepen my spirituality and practice of meditation and mindfulness in Insight Meditation Community of Washington, DC’s People of Color Sangha, Unity of Washington, DC, and All Souls Unitarian Church. In short, it paved the way for how I live today. To learn more about my journey, I invite you to read my memoirs, That Which Awakens Me and Digital Sisterhood. 

Discovering Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a human birthright and practice. Each of us is born with the ABILITY TO BE AWARE of what’s happening in our spirit, heart, mind, body, and surroundings. Mindfulness is also a practice that we can CHOOSE to PAY ATTENTION to what’s happening in our spirit, heart, mind, body and surroundings ON PURPOSE in the PRESENT MOMENT and WITHOUT JUDGMENT. We can use the power of our breath to practice mindfulness. Taking a deep breath intentionally brings us into the present moment where we can access awareness, balance, and calm with loving kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity. When we practice mindfulness, it becomes the gateway to who we truly are.

I discovered mindfulness when my career as a young lawyer and investment banker did not produce the level of success I expected. It helped me practice self-care, become resilient, overcome panic attacks, release my career expectations, and pursue my calling as an artist, author, Reiki master practitioner, speaker, and yoga teacher.

Thanks to the training I received at Smith Center for Healing and the Arts (artist-in-residence, 2001-2018), Flow Yoga Center (200-hour yoga teacher training, 2006), Reiki Lotus Healing Center (Reiki master certification, 2006-2008), and the Engaged Mindfulness Institute (300-hour mindfulness teacher certification, 2018), I was able to launch and expand Ananda Leeke Consulting, a personal and professional development firm.

How I Use Mindfulness to Help People & Organizations

As the Chief Mindfulness Officer of Ananda Leeke Consulting (ALC), I listen to my heart and follow my  intuition to help people, businesses, organizations, and communities become resilient and thrive with mindfulness, self-care, and creativity. At ALC, I love developing and implementing trainings, tools, practices, and other resources that promote creativity, mindfulness, resiliency, and self-care in ways that are fun, practical, impactful, and accessible.

Currently, I host and produce the Thriving Mindfully Show on Eaton Radio and teach  meditation classes and mindfulness workshops at Qi Kratom CBD Tea. Watch the video below to learn more about my weekly classes.

I speak at conferences and events sponsored by the Association of Wedding Professionals, AT&T, Automattic, BlogHer, Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Eaton DC, Executive Women International, Howard University, Institute for Medicaid Innovation, Latinos in Tech Innovation and Social Media, Marisla Foundation, Meetup/WeWork, National Association of Corporate Directors, Nonprofit Technology Network, Sisterhued, Smith Center for Healing and the Arts, Spelman College, The Conference Board, Unity of Washington, DC, Washington National Cathedral, and Web of Change. Also, I lead guided meditations in mindfulness communities and retreat centers.

In 2018, I received Acquisition International’s Influential Businesswoman Award for the Most Caring Woman in Mindfulness Training and WeUpWomen’s Adelaide Smith Award for my work in self-care and wellness. In 2019, I was selected by lululemon to serve as a lululemon luminary, received Acquisition International’s Influential Businesswoman in Professional Development – USA Award, and was named a Well-Being Warrior by the Well-Being and Equity Bridging Network.

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One last thing… Go to Amazon to check out and order my yoga-inspired novel Love’s Troubadours, mindful creativity memoir That Which Awakens Me, and mindful technology memoir Digital Sisterhood. Currently, I am writing my third memoir Thriving Mindfully.

Ananda’s Fun Facts

  • Puf the Magic Dragon is my childhood nickname that lives on as Puf, the Black American Princess (BAP) Extraordinaire.
  • My 12 core values include spirituality, love, health, self-care, creativity, mindfulness, abundance, freedom, forgiveness, relationships, fun, and service.
  • My favorite place in the world is my U Street, NW neighborhood in DC. I’ve been a U Street resident since 1990.
  • I love giving back to my U Street neighborhood and building community through art, poetry, and meditation groups (since 1992).
  • The Obama Administration recognized me as a thought leader in digital communications.
  • I am a tree hugger who loves to collect rocks wherever I go in the world.
  • I am huge fan of Queen Sugar, This Is Us, Living Single, Friends, and Young and the Restless.
  • Being a member of spiritual communities is an essential part of my mindful self-care practice. I am grateful to be a member of Unity of Washington, DC, Heart Refuge Mindfulness Community for People of Color, IMCW People of Color Sangha, and Agape International Spiritual Center.
  • Oatmeal is a must have each morning!
  • I follow the moon cycles, Mercury Upgrade, and MysticMamma.com and Chani Nichols’ astrological insights each month.
  • My brother Meico Whitlock, founder of Mindful Techie, is helping me overcome my tech addition to Instagram and YouTube. Yep, I am a recovering tech fanatic+box checker+overachiever+lawyer+investment banker LOL!
  • Pink and purple are still my favorite colors.
  • My vegan leather pants from Ann Taylor Loft are some of my favorite things to wear.
  • I started taking solo trips on airplanes when I was seven years old. Now I get giddy when I travel and get on planes, buses, and trains.
  • Traveling to Senegal, Paris, Egypt, and China to celebrate my 30th birthday, Cuba to honor my 40th birthday, London to welcome my 50th birthday were some of my best travel adventures, and Sedona, Arizona, to kick off my 55th birthday celebration.
  • Love Jones is my favorite movie.
  • The music of Alice and John Coltrane rocked my world and is featured in my books, Love’s Troubadours and That Which Awakens Me.
  • Meditation by way of an invitation to attend a free class at American University from two Buddhist women literally walked into my life while I was walking in my neighborhood with my Sigma Gamma Rho Soror Kamaria in 1992. We attended the class and received meditation tapes.
  • Chanting African, Buddhist, and Sanskrit mantras keeps me balanced.
  • In 1995, I took my first yoga class on a cruise down the Nile River in Egypt.
  • Oat milk chai made at Calabash Tea, Filter, and Kintsugi at Eaton DC makes me smile.
  • I never leave home without my MAC lipstick.
  • Wearing wigs especially with blue hair and blue MAC lipstick helps me express my creativity in deeper ways!

Photo Credit

Leigh Mosley is an amazing photographer who I have worked with since 2007.  Leigh is responsible for my official photos and book cover photos.

 

 

7 comments

  1. Hi Ananda,
    You may be interested in my blog. Sisterhood Across Continents. I am now following you so hopefully we can connect further on this wonderful thing called Sisterhood.
    Asanempoka

  2. I’ve been following you on IG since I discovered you via a Prevention challenge. And today…hello, forgive me I’m a little slow. I see you have a fabulous blog. I got curious because some of your posts you seem to be speaking at/for wordpress. I would so love to come hear you speak on blogging if you are ever in Southern California. Now I’m following you. It’s about time.

    1. Wow! I’m so glad you connected with me via Instagram and now my blog. I love Prevention Magazine! Thank you for taking the time to visit my site and read my blog. I am totally open to speaking in Southern California.

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