Leisha Talley

Outstanding Grad: Leisha Talley
College of Business

story by Allison Sylte
photo by John Eisele/CSU Photography
published Dec. 14, 2022

Graphic of Grad Cap 75x53

Whether she’s in a classroom, community theater or global climate conference, Leisha Talley has a gift for teaching her audiences how to make the world a better place.

“I just love seeing the moments of discovery on people’s faces when they find out something new and exciting they didn’t know before,” Talley said. “I want to empower people with the information they need to make decisions that prioritize sustainability.”

She used that talent during her 15-year career teaching elementary school-aged kids throughout the Mountain West, and she hopes to use it in a brand new way after she receives her Impact MBA with a focus in Corporate Sustainability from the Colorado State University College of Business in December 2022.

in their own words

Q. What made you decide to switch careers and pursue an Impact MBA?

I spent my career as an elementary science teacher, both in the classroom and for outdoor schools. I also had to work part time in order to buy school supplies, so I was looking for a change – but I didn’t want to give up on the ethos that made me want to become a teacher in the first place.

That’s what led me to the Impact MBA, because it felt like a way to truly use business as a tool for implementing positive change, since it’s something that we all encounter every day.

I chose the Corporate Sustainability Track and also have a certificate in carbon management. After graduation, I hope to do some form of industry consulting and risk analysis for business leaders in the Great Lakes – so in a way, I’ll still be educating, just CEOs rather than kids.

It’s important to me to share knowledge that helps people make decisions that preserve the environment and future generations.

Q. You were a delegate to the COP27. What was that experience like?

Leisha Talley at COP27 event

Another member of the Impact MBA program, Colleen Kennedy, and I were the only CSU business students at the conference, and we had the chance to give a press conference on the Sustainable Development Goals of the U.N. and discuss responsible production and consumption.

I felt very at home being in a collection of people who care enough to gather and make decisions, and it was so interesting to be in a place where all these preeminent thought leaders from around the world come together.

The public sector and private enterprise both play a role in making progress, and it was really inspiring, eye-opening and humbling to be able to witness and participate in something this historic.

Q. What’s been the most rewarding part of your CSU experience, and what advice would you give to someone else who is trying to make a big career change?

It’s been profound to come to CSU and realize how much growth potential I have, and to hear the stories of the other students in my cohort. I was worried about struggling because I didn’t have a business background, but I now feel like part of a collective, and it’s been so rewarding to watch everyone in my cohort make profound intellectual and personal growth.

As for other people making a pivot, I’d say that life unfolds the way you design it to, and pursuing more education is giving yourself a gift of recognizing how big the world is and how much is out there for you. Remember to lean into your strengths and how brave it is to recognize the need to grow.

Also, lean into what makes you good at something – figuring out what that is can help you decide what is worth pursuing. After all, it’s healthy to reevaluate if what you’re doing is actually satisfying.

I was sad to let teaching go, but I realized what I’m doing now is the culmination of everything I’ve cared about, and my greatest achievements are yet to come.

The Class of 2022 represents the very best of Colorado State University, showing courage in the face of adversity in the pursuit of their degrees. Read more stories of some of the outstanding students who are graduating this fall. read more