Leslie Cornfeld, a recent advisor to former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and a former federal prosecutor and public sector/nonprofit consultant, is nationally recognized for designing and leading high-profile efforts to tackle pressing social and community challenges, including in the areas of education, child welfare and safety, criminal justice, and civic engagement.
Most recently she chaired and directed the former mayor’s interagency task force to drive student achievement in low-income communities by developing new strategies to target student absenteeism and disengagement. Within three years that effort scaled from 25 pilot schools to 100 schools, serving over 60,000 students, which a Johns Hopkins evaluation found had significant impact on attendance and achievement, maintained when expanded to scale. A recent Washington Post editorial praised these efforts as “an example of what’s possible.” Ms. Cornfeld previously served, following a widely publicized child-abuse homicide, as founding director of the mayor’s NYC Task Force on Child Welfare and Safety, where she led a team of policymakers, educators, and agency staff in designing and implementing important systemic reforms to strengthen NYC’s child welfare and safety apparatus.
As a federal prosecutor, Ms. Cornfeld successfully led a series of high-profile public-corruption, criminal-civil-rights, and human-trafficking cases, resulting in her twice receiving the U.S. Attorney General’s Director’s Award for outstanding performance. Prior to that she was appointed Deputy Chief Counsel of the NYC Commission to Investigate Alleged Police Corruption (the “Mollen Commission”), where she helped develop and lead investigations of alleged police corruption and brutality, resulting in NYC’s creation of a permanent police oversight commission. She was a litigation associate at the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison and served as a law clerk to the Honorable Pierre N. Leval, SDNY (now U.S. Second Circuit), and as Special Assistant to Senator Daniel P. Moynihan in Washington, D.C.
Ms. Cornfeld has served as trustee on various boards, including the Children’s Defense Fund national board for over a decade; the Dalton School in NYC; the Hospital for Special Surgery; the Center for Law, Brain and Behavior; Harvard Kennedy School’s Achievement Gap Initiative (advisory council); and is the founder of the public-speaking program Girls Speak! in East Harlem, where she has served as a coach and mentor for the past several years.
She has contributed articles and opinion pieces to a variety of publications, including The New York Times, Newsweek, New York Law Journal, and The Huffington Post; has been featured on numerous television and news segments for her expertise in education, civic engagement and policing; and is a frequent featured speaker at national conferences and summits in these areas.
She is a graduate of Harvard College, Phi Beta Kappa, and Harvard Law School.