David A. Leslie has been named executive director of the Rothko Chapel, according to an announcement today by the venerable Houston institution.
“We are thrilled to welcome David Leslie back to Houston as the next executive director of the Rothko Chapel,”board chair Christopher Rothko said. “The organizational acumen he brings is surpassed only by the depth of his commitment to interfaith work and human dignity. After an extensive search, we could not have found a better fit for the next exciting phase of the Chapel’s development.”
Leslie joins the Rothko Chapel after serving for 18 years as executive director of Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon. While there, he spearheaded a $6.5 million campaign that created a 63-unit affordable housing community. He also planned the annual Collins Lecture series featuring notable world leaders, scholars and activists.
Leslie received his bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Texas at Austin before attending Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, where he earned his master's of divinity. In 1988, he served as regional coordinator for the World Council of Churches in Geneva, Switzerland. A year later, he became the first executive director of the Austin Habitat for Humanity.
Leslie was named program and membership director of the Ohio Council of Churches in 1991, where he worked in rural Appalachian counties to develop youth enhancement programs and efforts to improve policy and education in support of rural communities. In 1993, he took a position as associate director of Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston and later was promoted to executive director.
Throughout his career, Leslie has been devoted to human rights, interfaith relations, immigration reform, ending homelessness and addressing the societal impacts of climate change. He was recognized for this work with the Eugene Carson Blake Award for Ecumenism given by the National Council of Churches and Church World Service. He has published articles and spoken at international conferences on topics related to public policy, organizational development and cross-sector relations.
Leslie looks forward to collaborating with the Rothko Chapel’s board of directors, staff, supporters and the Houston community to enhance the nonprofit’s mission in the years ahead. He arrives in June.
“As the world in which we live becomes more pluralistic -- and issues such as global peace, environmental health and economic justice become more urgent -- institutions with strong interfaith and intercultural commitments such as the Rothko Chapel become increasingly important,” he said. “It is a privilege to be a part of the next phase of Rothko Chapel’s development.”
In its 40 years, the Rothko Chapel has achieved recognition as one of the greatest artistic achievements of the second half of the 20th century. The Rothko Chapel serves both as a space for religious ceremonies of all faiths and as host of programs in support of important causes concerning the arts, spirituality, and human rights.
For more information about the Rothko Chapel and the full calendar of programs, workshops and events, visit rothkochapel.org.