Chief Executive Officer
LESLIE ABBEY, ESQ. (she/her) is an organizational leader and entrepreneur who has committed her career to supporting families and youth, social justice, and data-driven strategies to improve social service outcomes. As Hot Bread Kitchen’s CEO, Leslie is overseeing execution of the organization’s three-year plan to support 1,000 breadwinners across New York City and expand its programs to all five boroughs.
Prior to joining Hot Bread Kitchen in January 2022, Leslie was Deputy Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer of Covenant House New York, the City’s largest organization dedicated to serving youth experiencing homelessness. Having joined the organization in 2017, Leslie oversaw 260+ staff at seven sites in Manhattan and the Bronx, and was responsible for all programs and operations. During her tenure, she oversaw significant operational and programmatic growth and improvements, including the launching of myriad strategies that improved youth outcomes.
From 2014 to 2017, Leslie was Chief Program Officer at Lantern Community Services, a leading nonprofit provider of supportive housing in New York City. From 2007 to 2014, Leslie held progressively senior positions at the New York City Administration for Children’s Services (ACS). Her first role was as Executive Director of the Juvenile Justice Initiative, the City’s largest alternative-to-placement program for youth in the juvenile justice system and the first-ever program of its kind to use data-driven evidence-based social service models. After playing a key role in the dramatic reduction of youth in state custody at that time, Leslie was promoted to Associate Commissioner and, eventually, to Interim Deputy Commissioner, of the Division of Policy, Planning, and Measurement, where she led the creation and implementation of myriad City-wide reform initiatives.
Leslie started her career advocating for youth as an attorney in the Legal Aid Society’s Juvenile Rights Practice from 1997 to 2007, where she first represented children in Bronx Family Court, and then moved on to the Practice’s Special Litigation and Law Reform Unit. In that role, Leslie brought multiple class action lawsuits against government agencies, and engaged in other forms of advocacy, to improve conditions for youth served by public agencies.
A critical thinker with a passion for building programs that improve social service outcomes and the experience of users of public systems, Leslie is a founder of two nonprofit organizations. In the year following her law school graduation, Leslie co-founded Family Legal Care (formerly LIFT), an award-winning organization that provides legal information and support to 30,000 Family Court litigants annually. Leslie recently stepped down from Family Legal Care’s Board of Directors, after 28 years of service. In 2022, Leslie co-founded, and now serves as Chair of the Board of Directors of, Anthos|Home, which aims to transform the housing voucher system in New York City.
Leslie has served on numerous other boards and committees in the nonprofit and public sectors as well. Currently, she is a member of the Board of Managers of Swarthmore College, Board of Trustees of New York University School of Law, and Board of Trustees of JCCA. She is also a member of the Women’s Forum of New York.
A native New Yorker who has always loved the beauty of food, Leslie lives in Manhattan with her husband, two teenage children, and rescue dog, Sammy.