Leanne Wood was born in the Rhondda where she continues to live today. She was educated at Tonypandy Comprehensive School, the University of Glamorgan and Cardiff University. Before her election to the National Assembly in 2003, Leanne worked as a professional tutor and lectured in social policy at Cardiff University. She also worked as a probation officer and a support worker for Cwm Cynon Women's Aid during 2001 and 2002. She remains involved with Cwm Cynon Women’s Aid through her role as chair of their Board of Trustees. She has been heavily involved in the trade union movement and was, until recently, the chair of the all-party PCS Union group in the Assembly. During her tenure as AM, she has been responsible for the Sustainability, Environment, Social Justice, and Housing portfolios for Plaid Cymru.
Leanne has produced two major policy documents for Plaid Cymru. In 2008, she published Making Our Communities Safer which argued for the criminal justice system in Wales to be devolved. In 2011, A Greenprint for the Valleys was published, in which Leanne argued for a green job creation programme aimed at regenerating the former coalfield areas of the valleys. It contains initiatives including: a Green Construction Skills College; implementing an integrated transport plan for the valleys; creating a land bank for renewable energy and food production; and a programme to renovate heritage buildings. It also advocates providing loan-based financial support for home energy efficiency measures and for the setting up of green co-operatives.
On March 15th 2012, Leanne was elected as leader of Plaid Cymru, becoming the first woman to lead the party. Outside of politics, her interests include learning Welsh and gardening.