Leah Sakr Lavender
Talent specialist, Greater Wichita Partnership
Lavender tells people that she moved to the United States for love and to Wichita by choice. Now she hopes to help other people make the same choice.
Lavender, 30, grew up Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates. Her parents are natives of Lebanon who own businesses in UAE.
She attended the International French School in Abu Dhabi and then followed her father’s footsteps to college in Australia, earning a bachelor’s degree in international studies from the University of New South Wales and a master’s degree in teaching from the University of Sydney.
That’s where she met her husband, Paul, a Wichita native who was attending graduate school there, while both were volunteering for the Global Poverty Project.
“We hit it off instantly,” she said. “We both went home and Googled our (native) cities because we hadn’t heard of them.”
The couple lived in San Francisco for a year before they decided to become part of what Lavender calls exciting developments in Wichita such as the redevelopment of downtown and the e2e business accelerator.
Paul works for Sasnak Management Corp., parent company of Carlos O’Kelly’s restaurants, and Lavender started working for the Greater Wichita Partnership this week.
Lavender said her post is a new and “fluid” position whose responsibilities are still being defined. But in general her objective is to collaborate with others to help bring and retain talented individuals to the area. Her first goal is to meet as many community members as possible.
She expects to travel to various business conferences on behalf of the partnership and thinks her language skills – she’s fluent in French, English, Spanish and Arabic – will be valuable.
“Wichita is a great story. I’m really excited to share it with people, not just across the country but internationally,” she said.
Lavender said she enjoys dining out, listening to live music and learning about the “rich culture” of her new home.