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Congratulations, Lesley!

Lesley Greene (center) with friends at the Debra S. Newman '02 Award ceremony.

We are thrilled to announce that our own Lesley Greene is the winner of the Debra S. Newman '02 Cornell Tradition Community Recognition Award. She received it at a ceremony in Cornell’s Statler Ballroom on February 1. Her nomination letter credited her with “making Ithaca a more creative, connected, inclusive, and compassionate community.”


“Just as importantly,” the letter added, “she has made it much more fun.”


Lesley is best known for co-inventing and co-directing Porchfest, the annual one-day free music festival in the Fall Creek and Northside neighborhoods. She and her friend Gretchen Hildreth came up with the idea in 2007, and it has since spread to more than 170 communities across North America. Lesley has run the festival as a volunteer for all these years, building a deeply committed volunteer network that includes both neighbors and Cornell and Ithaca College students.


For more than 20 years, Lesley was part of the core leadership team of the Kitchen Theatre Company, which used thought-provoking plays to stimulate countless conversations on important topics. In addition to her work on production (sound design, lighting, music composition, etc.), she was the theater’s chief grant writer for many years. 


Since 2021, Lesley has been co-director of Story House Ithaca, working to bring people from across the community together around stories. She has helped produced  more than 100 events which have attracted more than 6,000 people as participants or audience members.


When we think of community service, we may think of the provision of physical or mental health care or the promotion of economic wellbeing. But it is also about creating connection and happiness, particularly across social and economic difference. We can think of no one who has served Ithaca better in those regards than Lesley Lisa Greene!

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