Emily Claire Leonard, 71, a retired Foreign Service officer with the U.S. Agency for International Development, died of respiratory failure on April 22 in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, the city of her last posting.
Born during World War II in her mother’s hometown of Morgantown, W. Va., Emily Claire Leonard moved with her family to Alexandria, Va., when her attorney father was appointed to a senior post in the Eisenhower administration’s Department of Justice. Ms. Leonard worked summers for the federal government during high school. After earning a B.A. in economics from Wellesley College and an M.S. in management from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Ms. Leonard worked for a business gaming venture in Cambridge, Mass., before returning to Washington and beginning her career in the Foreign Service. Ms. Leonard served the U.S. government’s overseas programs for nearly a quarter century, initially as a budget examiner for USAID at the Office of Management and Budget (1971-1976). She then joined USAID, serving as a health economist in the Near East Bureau (1976-1979), as an assistant health officer in Cairo (1979-1982), a regional coordinator for the Middle East in the Bureau of Planning and Program Coordination (1982-1985), and as an assistant director and program officer in Tunisia (1985). After returning to Washington as a desk officer for the Office of Central American Affairs (1986-1989), Ms. Leonard concluded her career as the senior career officer in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. There she helped reform the justice system, enduring death threats to establish a district attorney’s office with nationwide jurisdiction. Her “valiant actions” were honored by the Honduran Bar Association, the Supreme Court of Honduras and the Public Ministry. She retired fromUSAID in November 1994, although she returned as a contract manager in Haiti for five months during 1995.
USAID colleagues remember Emily Leonard as a dazzling woman who windsurfed in the Mediterranean, went scuba diving in the Red Sea, and enlivened embassy parties. An accomplished linguist, she conversed easily in French, Arabic and Spanish. In retirement, Ms. Leonard studied law and enjoyed gardening, reading and collecting Central American art. She loved the people of Honduras and quietly provided regular financial help to needy students and families with disabled children. Emily Claire Leonard is survived by her sister Jennifer Leonard (and her husband David Cay Johnston) of Rochester, N.Y., and their children Molly and Kate Leonard; by her brother George Stephen Leonard (and his wife Kathy) of Monroe Township, N.J., and their children George and Valerie Leonard.