Leslie A. Anderson
President and CEO of the New Jersey Redevelopment Authority (NJRA)
Leslie A. Anderson is the President and CEO of the New Jersey Redevelopment Authority (NJRA), a multi-million dollar independent financing authority created by the state of New Jersey to transform urban communities through direct investment and technical support. Leslie is the only Black woman in the nation to helm an independent redevelopment financing authority, and thanks to her effectiveness she has been reappointed to this position by four consecutive governors.
Under her bold leadership, NJRA has used its financial resources to leverage nearly $4 billion in new investments, helping to redevelop some of New Jersey’s most economically challenged neighborhoods. Moreover, the authority committed nearly half a billion dollars in direct investments to the 64 legislatively designated communities that it serves. This has led to the creation of over 15,000 new housing units and over 10 million square feet of commercial and retail space.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, NJRA created the Small Business Lease-Emergency Assistance Grant Program to provide commercial rent-relief grants up to $10,000 to the small businesses that have been hardest hit by the health and economic crisis. The highly successful program, funded by the CARES Act, was fully subscribed in under 30 minutes. Not only were 90% of the applicants minority business owners, but nearly 70% had not received any other form of relief, including CARES Act funding.
In 2006, Leslie created the NJRA Redevelopment Training Institute (RTI) to provide learning opportunities centered on the complexities of redevelopment and best practices for community revitalization. Since inception, RTI has trained over 2,000 attorneys, elected officials, developers, and community based organizations. It has also received certification from the American Institute of Certified Planners, the Northeastern Economic Developers Association, and Continuing Legal Education through the NJ Supreme Court.
Prior to joining the staff of NJRA, Leslie served as a Policy Advisor to former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman. In this capacity, she was responsible for working on economic, commerce, and urban policy. She played an integral role in the creation of Governor Whitman's urban economic strategy that was enacted into law in July 1996 through the passage of the New Jersey Urban Redevelopment Act. Leslie began her career in her hometown of Plainfield, New Jersey where she spent nearly a decade working in the city’s economic development office. She began her tenure as a planner and was ultimately selected by the mayor to serve as the Executive Director of the Office of Economic Development.
Leslie remains heavily involved in the Plainfield community. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., which is a public service organization that strives to confront the problems facing disadvantaged African Americans. Leslie has served in various leadership positions in the organization including as the president of the Central Jersey Alumnae Chapter.
Leslie is a Leadership NJ Fellow, and holds active memberships in the Penn State Alumni Association and the Council of Finance Development Agencies. Leslie also serves as a member of the Board of Directors for the Heart of NJ Girl Scout Council and the dFree Global Foundation.
Leslie’s commitment to service has earned her numerous awards and recognition. She has the distinction of being named to ROI-NJ’s Influencers Real Estate: Power Players list as well as the ROI Influencers: People of Color list. She has also been recognized as one of NJBIZ’s Best 50 Women in Business, and she was recognized by the Black Alumni of Penn State University for her outstanding work in public service. Leslie has also been the recipient of the Chester Holmes Humanitarian Award; the Chris Kjeldsen Community Service Award; the Garden State Bar Association’s Roger M. Yancey Award (one of three non-lawyers to receive this prestigious award); the Girl Scouts of Delaware Raritan Woman of Distinction Award; and she is also an inductee in the Plainfield High School Hall of Fame.
Leslie earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Pennsylvania State University.