Hi. I’m Leila.
I’m a designer, green builder, maker, teacher, entrepreneur, and community activist.
I’m from the South Valley of Albuquerque, NM, born to a first-generation Palestinian-American and a 15th-generation New Mexican. I went to UPenn where I majored in Architecture and Environmental Studies, lived in Center City Philadelphia, and fell in love with the urban experience. I moved back to Albuquerque and worked in Architecture until I co-founded the Albuquerque Old School, a hub of community experts who offer classes in frugal, traditional, and sustainable living. We connect people who have these homesteading skills to people who want to learn those skills. I teach some of the classes, including greywater, natural building, non-dairy milks, hummus & pita, and homemade toothpaste! Old School is currently on-hold while I work on other projects, but I hope to find other homesteading enthusiasts to join me to re-launch this terrific project.
Local sustainability is my passion. With a team of twelve, I helped to launch the Transition movement in Albuquerque to work on local resilience projects. Rob Hopkins’ Transition Handbook gave me a brilliant new word for what Old School does: “reskilling.” I love it. Through Transition I’ve learned so much and become a big advocate for localism in all its forms. I was one of the early members of AFLEP advocating for public banks, I organized a panel on Relocalizing the Economy, and developed a workshop on Disaster Preparedness & Community Resilience that I’ve given at climate conferences and events.
Community Resilience to me means that neighbors know each other, their needs and assets, they share resources, and work together to solve problems and improve the lives of everyone. When I heard about the Buy Nothing Project in 2014, I started the first group in Albuquerque, and I help others develop groups in their own neighborhoods. Buy Nothing members helped me organize three massive and fun Really Really Free Market events, and we hope to make it an annual gathering. Organizing neighbors around creating a tool library and a repair café are high on my wish list for future hyper-local projects.
I’ve spent good chunks of time volunteering with fantastic people at Urban ABQ and Mi ABQ on events and projects such as ABQ CiQlovia, two mayoral candidate forums, and a citywide summit. Lately, I’ve been more committed to advocacy and organizing with OLÉ and the NM Working Families Party on campaigns for workers right’s like paid sick leave, and for democracy reform such as Automatic Voter Registration and Democracy Dollars.
For my day job, freelance in graphic design and communications with non-profit and B-corp clients such as the Desert Oasis Teaching Garden, CivNet, Young Women United, and the City of Albuquerque Corridors initiative. As with my volunteering, my work has also turned more toward progressive politics, doing graphics and digital communications for some local campaigns including Maurreen Skowran for Albuquerque City Council, No Corporate Democrats 2020, and the New Mexico Working Families Party.
Thanks for visiting! I always need to update this website and my work samples, but clients come first so I tend to forget about it! You can contact me at email@example.com or via social media at the links below.