It’s official … Les Leech has left the building! President & CEO, Les Leech bid farewell to colleagues, peers, staff, public officials, and many of those served by the agency at his retirement party held on Thursday, June 30, 2016 at Vista Lago Ballroom in Miami. It was a night filled with nostalgia, laughs (a few at the expense of the outgoing president himself) and awards for a lifetime of service. The night was a fitting closure to a remarkable career of 40 years of continuous service to Sunrise and the greater disabilities community.
Leech has served as Chief Executive Officer of Sunrise Community since 1976. Under his leadership, the organization expanded from an agency serving a little over 100 individuals in South Dade to a multi-state agency serving thousands in Alabama, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Tennessee and Virginia. Sunrise became an industry leader in community inclusion and never shied away from the role of fierce advocate for people with intellectual and physical challenges. The Master of Ceremonies for the event was Michael Hart, Vice President of Customer Service & Operations Support. Mr. Hart introduced a distinguished list of guest speakers including Dr. Jim Weeks, Dr. Joe Aniello, Dr. Jennie Block, Ballonmeister Rick Neubauer, CCO Marcella Henry and Mr. James Bunsa. A video commemorating Les’ tenure was created for the special event by Jolynne Mendez and Sunrise’s Board of Directors gave Les recognition and gifts for his years of personal commitment and sacrifice.
The night also marked the official “passing of the torch” to Sunrise’s new President & CEO, Zack Wray. “As a whole, the greater disabilities community and all those who work in the field are grateful to Les for his 40 years of dedicated service to Sunrise and his commitment to providing the best services possible,” said Wray. “He’s been a strong leader who has managed and grown the agency through challenges and transitions as Sunrise responded to de-institutionalization and the changing needs of the greater disabilities community. It is evident by the capacity of those in attendance tonight that Sunrise employees, board members, families and all those who support the agency are thankful for his innumerable contributions and his distinguished tenure as CEO. These are huge shoes to fill and I am honored to carry on the legacy of Sunrise. ”
Les’s family members had flown in from all over the country to share in this momentous occasion. His sister-in-law, Annette Barretto Leech, summed it up best when she said, “Anything for Les… he’s our hero too!”
Family & Friends showed up to pay tribute to Les. (All photos in this post are credit to and courtesy of Annette Barretto Leech.)