Alumna Leslie Little’s New Book Connects Mind and Heart
Alumna Leslie Little’s New Book Connects Mind and Heart
October 28, 2009
On October 20th, Dean Chester Gillis welcomed Georgetown College alumna Leslie Little back to campus for the Washington, D.C. release of her new book Paris Icons. Speaking to a packed audience in Riggs Library, Little described her book—a large format fine art coffee table book that marries quotes about Paris with expressive photography—as a "high touch (publication) in a high tech world." Since its publication, the book has won several awards; it received one of the highest national honors of distinction by the Independent Publishers Association (IPPY) when it received the Gold Medal for Most Outstanding Book Design—2009. The book also received a second IPPY Medal for the Best Coffee Table Book of the Year—2009.

A 1986 graduate of the College with a B.A. in history, Little noted in her presentation that it was her Jesuit education at Georgetown that propelled her to engage in the kind of work that values "heart over head." Little cited a poster from Georgetown, which she has been carrying around since the 1980s, the text of which served as part of the genesis of her project:

The Jesuit vision of the world is in a sense imagination run wild, bursting into action. Through it God is seen in all things. In Jesuit education, such a vision is neither male nor female for it informs and shapes both as it frees the heart and mind in the integrated process of learning. New visions and new dreams challenge the imagination.

An inspiration for anyone who fears the challenge of changing gears mid-career, Little started her career in quantitative finance as one of very few non-math or economic majors in the field. She worked for more than 10 years in finance, later receiving an MBA from Berkeley, and lived most of her time abroad. Then, in her early 40s, she was faced with a life-threatening illness. It was while in recovery that she had a drastic change in perspective. While she felt intellectually stimulated by working in finance, Little was increasingly concerned by the polarization of heart and mind in her field. "The American business model is so focused on bottom line, and we need to find ways to integrate every part," said Little. "The model is limiting, and we only measure financial impact." Paris Icons became a way for Little to return to her liberal arts roots and reconnect with both Jesuit ideals and education.

The idea of doing a large-scale art book about Paris had firmly taken hold of her, but she assumed the concept had been done before. After doing some research with one of the owners of The Strand bookstore in New York, Little found to her surprise that a book like the one she had in mind had never before been published. Combining her business savvy, artistic intuition, and her high profile contacts (along with several doses of good luck), she was able to bring the book to production.

One of Little's next projects will bring her back to the Hilltop. She plans to produce a Georgetown Icons book that will showcase the beauty of the university. A series of books about academic institutions will follow, though, as she said, "one should always start with one’s alma mater!"  She is very happy to be working on a Georgetown project, and is grateful for what Georgetown has done for her.

"My Georgetown education has seen me through everything, and that is something no one can take away from me."

Read the original article here.