Staff Spotlight: Leslie Garman

Leslie Garman joined DMARC’s team as Director of Development & Outreach in May of 2017. Today she leads all fundraising and outreach efforts with the support of DMARC’s development staff and volunteer team.

Leslie brings a wealth of fund development, communications, special event, and volunteer organization experience to the role, having worked with several nonprofit organizations representing the social service, health and cultural sectors, including: Employee & Family Resources (EFR), the Spina Bifida Association of Iowa, Junior League of Des Moines, the United Way of Central Iowa, Des Moines Metro Opera, the Chrysalis Foundation, and House of Mercy.

As a heart survivor herself, Leslie has spent the majority of her career (nearly two decades) with the American Heart Association, leaving as Metro Executive Director. While at the AHA, she visited nearly every school in Iowa for Jump Rope for Heart, trained staff statewide, helping them to organize both educational and fundraising activities in support of the AHA. In Des Moines she literally conducted hundreds of events, managing both board and volunteer leadership. Her most recognizable accomplishments in Des Moines include the creation of the Des Moines Heart Ball and Nurturing Women’s Hearts (the predecessor of Go Red For Women).

Leslie is originally from Sioux City, Iowa where she received her Bachelor of Science degree from Morningside College. She later received her CFRE (Certified Fund Raising Executive) designation in 2013, a designation that she continues. Today she is active with several organizations, including the Association for Women in Communications, MOIsson Women’s Breakfast Club, and the Affinity Breakfast Club and also serves on the boards of the Association of Fundraising Professionals – Central Iowa Chapter, the Windsor Heights Foundation and the Downtown Des Moines Chamber of Commerce.

In her spare time, Leslie has fun swimming, thrifting, restoring antique furniture and her two black cats. She also enjoys her family, including her two adult children (Vanessa and Adam) and her four year old granddaughter, who she has nicknamed “Delightful Devyn.”

If you would like to know more about the ways you can support DMARC, Leslie would love to hear from you! Connect with her via email at DMARC at

What drew you to DMARC originally, and how has it changed since then?
Past DMARC Board President Doug Ventling was the person who drew me to DMARC. After he explained what it was I was intrigued! Today, it’s the understanding of how important our work is to bring a diverse group together to solve issues.

What do you like most about working at DMARC?
Without a doubt the mission. You simply can’t find one that has more local impact. But I also love the ability to be creative in how we approach reaching our goals. It can be rare to have that flexibility.

What is your proudest moment at DMARC?
When one of the people we assist, Tara Kramer, texted me to say thank you for the healthy food she was able to access through the Food Pantry Network. Having the ability to make such a positive difference to one individual brought my work full circle.

What’s a fun fact about yourself that others might not be aware of?
A few years ago I managed Junior League’s local thrift shop, the “Bargain Basket” in East Village. I have never had so much fun!

Do you have any hidden talents?
I love to refurnish furniture and finding a diamond in the rough!

Before working at DMARC, what’s the most interesting job you’ve ever had?
Serving as consultant to Junior League and running their thrift shop, the “Bargain Basket”. I LOVED IT!

Where is your favorite place in the world to be?
Okoboji – hands down!

What did you want to be when you were growing up?
A pastor. I remember practicing my sermons!

If you could use one famous movie line to describe yourself, what would it be?
“If you build it, he will come.” – Field of Dreams. I like bringing people together, because when you do, you can create something special. And that’s what we get to do when we create committees for events or new initiatives. Enthusiasm is contagious!

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