Interviewing Leah Thirkill

Welcome back to my L.A.C.E.S. journey! If you missed my blog introducing myself make sure to go read it here, and my second blog focusing on James Moore, the Program Director in Liberia, can be found here.

My L.A.C.E.S. Impact:

One of my favorite projects that L.A.C.E.S. has offered me through my internship is the ability to create and design my very own capstone project! I knew from the first moment when I was introduced to the capstone project that I wanted it to be able to be used after I finish my internship, and I wanted it to be a need of L.A.C.E.S.. Though it was hard choosing between one of the many ideas I came up with, I chose to create an onboarding binder for new hires, coaches, and volunteers, that will be an overview of L.A.C.E.S. history, and global programs as well as give resources to learn about the local refugee crisis. 


Leah Thirkill, the Operations Coordinator, has helped me every step of the way with not only my capstone project, but my entire internship experience. Leah has been my rock through my internship and has continuously guided me, asked me if I had any questions, and taught me all about the different hats you have to wear when working at a nonprofit. She has been an amazing resource and role model through my whole journey, and even allowed me to ask her questions for hours on end, for which I cannot describe how appreciative I am!

Learning about Leah:

Leah started working with L.A.C.E.S. in November 2018. Before joining the L.A.C.E.S team, she participated in numerous teaching programs that took her around the world. In her travels, She learned that teaching wasn’t for her but her experiences allowed her to realize her love for children and her passion to make a positive impact in the world. She specifically chose to work with L.A.C.E.S. because of the community aspect that is ingrained in the organization’s culture. She believes that “any change you want to see in the world has to be from the community you want to see it in,” and L.A.C.E.S. incorporates just that!

Leah absolutely loves working with L.A.C.E.S. – which I’m able to see everyday. Even though her title is “Operations Coordinator,” she works with any and every aspect you can think of. Through our first ever Virtual Soccer Clinic, Leah helped plan the schedule down to the second, but she also was in the front lines, calling families, giving Zoom training, and delivering soccer balls to our youth. While Leah loves the logistical side of L.A.C.E.S., the youth also hold a place in her heart, and she misses them so much that she mentioned that canceling the Adventure Camp was one of the most challenging parts of COVID-19. Leah is truly an irreplaceable asset to the L.A.C.E.S. family. 

Through my interactions with Leah I have been able to see how big her heart is and how much power she has to change the world for the better. When I asked her about how L.A.C.E.S. was special compared to other organizations she replied that it “feels like family and friends.” She also mentioned something that resonated with me, “the humanity of the whole organization” and continued on to state, “we are human-based, not a machine that moves forward.” This really stuck out to me because I have interned with and volunteered with numerous nonprofits, and I know exactly what Leah means. I am able to see the humanity within the organization by just listening to Leah and Seren talk about the youth and families they serve – they can name every child and tell me something about them. This means so much to me because a lot of organizations miss this crucial step in getting to know the people and community they work alongside. I could honestly write an entire series of blogs of all the things Leah has taught me, but I’m going to leave you with this – always remember to keep the humanity within your work no matter what.