Courtney Leach grew up in Woodbridge, Virginia, and currently resides in the Kemp Mill neighborhood of Silver Spring, Maryland. A security coordinator for the Overseas Security Advisory Council with the State Department for the last two years, Courtney will soon be a graduate student at University of Maryland University College (UMUC), where she will pursue her master’s in intelligence management.
A self-proclaimed foodie who loves traveling, music that gets you moving, and learning about other cultures and why we are who we are, you can find Courtney at the gym, hiking Great Falls, or lost in a book. (Fun fact: The newest language she’s trying to learn is Korean.)
What did you study in college, and how did you choose that focus?
I went to school for criminal justice and homeland security. The reason behind criminal justice was to understand the mechanics of the system and hopefully be a part of the solution that reduces the ongoing gross discrimination against minorities in the prison system. As far as the homeland aspect goes, I was that generation that saw the Twin Towers fall on TV during third period in high school, and I wasn’t going to let that happen again in my lifetime if I could help it.
It possible a subliminal message also came with my upbringing. I would see my parents don their uniforms for work. My dad was a police officer and my mother a correctional officer. Both are now retired.
What is the last book you read?
I may be a little late to the cult classics by Stieg Larsson, but “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” was incredibly well written and a true mystery novel of the highest caliber. I’m also in the middle of listening via Audible to “The Last Black Unicorn” by Tiffany Haddish.
If you could meet anyone, who would it be?
This is tough. Can I do one living and one deceased? Living: I’d love to have cocktails with Issa Rae, awkward black girl to awkward black girl. Deceased: Harriet Tubman. (I don’t think her awesomeness needs any explanation.)
What music do you like listening to?
I love all sorts of music, really... cliche, I know. I can say recently I’ve had Alicia Keys’ “Fallin’” album on repeat, and whenever I need to be mellow there’s this hauntingly beautiful song by Yemeni Blues called “Trape La Verite” that is aurally exquisite and I can put that on repeat several times over.
What is a quote that you live by?
It’s not a one or two line quote; it’s a poem by Langston Hughes that is encouraging when times get rough. It’s called “Mother to Son.”
What do you like to do when you aren’t working?
I knew that I would get this question! A few weeks ago I was thinking about what my hobbies were and nothing really came to mind, which was concerning. [Laughs.] Although, that’s not completely true, I do have one hobby that I just don’t really get a chance to do: I love painting with water colors.
I can be adventurous as the next outdoorsman — I love road trips, camping, and hiking — but I also like a good Netflix binge session. I’m multifaceted. Oooh, and make-up! I own a duffel bag of make-up.
What is one of your favorite accomplishments?
I’m the first in my immediate family to finish college.
What is your favorite Jewish holiday?
It’s hard to reduce it to one! But if I had to, I would say Sukkot. It’s during autumn, my favorite time of year, and the close quarters shared with the ones you love really drives it to heart.
Where would you like to travel?
I’ve been to Copenhagen, Berlin, Munich, Stuttgart, and Paris, and while all of these cities have their own charm and unique culture, I’m absolutely hooked on Paris. Copenhagen is a close second, though, and I’d love to go back. If it’s to a place I’ve never been, then Greece and India... purely for the food.
Interviewed by Batya H. Carl