Reign FC Legend: Leigh Morgan

The Legends campaign, a partnership between Seattle Reign FC and Avanade, honors women for their extraordinary contributions in the Pacific Northwest and beyond. Prior to the match against the Boston Breakers this Saturday, the club will recognize Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center Board of Trustees and Washington Roundtable member, Leigh Morgan.

“The Legends campaign highlights women who are committed to the Seattle community and who care about giving back,” said Morgan. “None of us got to where we are without help and support from family, friends, and colleagues. It also highlights the partnership between Reign FC and Avanade, a company that I know well from my work at the Gates Foundation. These partnerships are critical for the sustainability for women’s professional sports.”

Morgan’s career developed out of a passion to make the world a better place for everyone. Previously the Chief Operating Officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Morgan was a key contributor to the Foundation’s international development, global health, and education strategies.

“I’ve worked in the corporate, public, and nonprofit sectors and the common thread is my passion to build high-performing, purpose-based organizations that change the world for the better,” said Morgan. “I thrive in organizations undergoing transformational change, where my leadership drives clear direction, alignment internally and externally, and commitment to shared goals.

Having held positions in government administrations, foundations, and academics, Morgan’s has also spent significant time in the STEM fields. Morgan previously held positions with Genentech and GlaxoSmithKline.

“It’s been very rewarding working in STEM fields,” said Morgan. “In addition to being a woman in STEM, I am unique because I bring a social science background to my work. This has equipped me with the ability to understand what I call the ‘affective,’ or human, side of leading complex, large-system change. It is not uncommon for life-science types to focus just on facts, when the key to high performing teams or organizations is often about working well together and tapping diversity of perspective.”

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When she’s not working on her goals to change the world, Morgan is often pursuing athletic goals. Morgan summited Mt. Rainier, Mt. Hood, and Mt. Kilimanjaro and was a collegiate basketball athlete at Duke. These experiences have allowed Morgan to have a strong appreciation of the professional women’s sports teams in Seattle.

“Having marquee women’s sport teams helps distinguish Seattle as the very special place that it is,” said Morgan. “It provides role models for aspiring young athletes and demonstrates the community’s values on gender equality. It is also just super exciting to watch the world’s best athletes compete here.”

As an athlete herself, Morgan sees many parallels between sports and her current work to accelerate efforts to develop cures for cancer with Fred Hutchinson and promote economic opportunity for all Washingtonians with the Washington Roundtable.

“I’ve learned the importance of teamwork, and how important diversity of perspective, skill and experience is to getting better outcomes,” said Morgan. “I’ve learned the power of ‘grit’, which is the combination of passion and perseverance. I’ll take a gritty teammate or colleague over someone with raw talent any day!”

Another key part of Morgan’s life is her work to empower women and girls to reach their fullest potential. Earlier this spring, Morgan was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the Asian University for Women in Chittagong, Bangladesh, for her leadership in this cause. Morgan offers three pieces of advice for young women to take on their challenges.

“First, make sure you are passionate about your work, so that when times are tough you still have inner resolve to persevere,” said Morgan. “Second, build a support network of colleagues, family, and friends who you can turn to for support. Third, practice empathy towards yourself and others.”