Leanora and her mom in Kenya.

All smiles under the Golden Arches in Texas. Circa, 1986.


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About Leanora Minai

Leanora stops for a journal break while hiking in Italy.

Leanora Minai was born in Africa to Italian-American parents and grew up in Singapore, Indonesia, Nigeria and Cameroon. Her father was a petroleum geologist whose explorations took the family all over the world. At age 12, she entered The Masters School just outside New York City, where she discovered her love for writing.

After an adventurous childhood, Leanora’s first job was at McDonald’s in Plano, Texas, where she welcomed drive-through customers with a cheery (and exaggerated, just-for-the-fun-of-it) Bronx accent. She still managed to win McDonald’s “Outstanding Service Person” during Founder’s Day in 1986. 

Repeated nights of begging her parents to allow her to stay up for the late news only confirmed Leanora’s penchant for journalism. In college, she won intercollegiate and national honors for journalistic excellence. She graduated from Texas Christian University’s journalism program, now the Schieffer School of Journalism.

After her first reporting job at The Times Leader in Wilkes-Barre, PA., she joined one of the best newspapers in the country, the St. Petersburg Times, now the Tampa Bay Times. She covered city and county government and crime.

In 2004, Leanora joined Duke University, where she is now the communications director for the Office of Communication Services. She directs Duke Today Working@Duke and Working@Duke, the award-winning digital and print news publications for Duke employees.

Leanora loves to learn new things, and in 2012, she completed her first short documentary. The film is about a group of mothers in Durham, North Carolina, who support each other through grief and healing after the murder of their children. She produced the film as part of the continuing education certificate in video documentary arts, which she received from the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University. She also founded and leads a meet-up group for budding documentarians through the Center for Documentary Studies.

When she's not working her passions, Leanora's enjoying other ones. She hikes off-the-beaten paths, most recently in Croatia, Italy and Ireland, and leads an outdoor adventure group for women in the Triangle region of North Carolina. 
Leanora going over a 9-foot high waterfall on the Zrmanja River in Croatia in 2014. Facing fears ...