Leslie Kaze
Ex officio member, Country Director

Raised in Kigali, Leslie holds a bachelor’s degree in Health Policy from the University of Rochester. In addition to her degree, she was part of the first pioneer class and obtained a certificate of achievement in Community-Engaged Learning. In this program, she worked on a research project about the role of social stigma in keeping church-going African American millennials in Rochester from utilizing mental healthcare services. She also initiated an ongoing discussion among 9 church leaders of predominantly Black and African American churches in the Rochester area on issues of mental health that their congregation face, as well as church roles in fighting mental health stigma. As a result of the discussion, all 9 church leaders preached at least one sermon on mental health with references from the bible. Lastly, she organized two mental health fairs in two of the community churches.

As Leslie continued to pursue her passion for increased access to health care for the most marginalized, she joined Team Heart upon graduation in 2018 as a development officer. In charge of the Rwandan office finance and administration management, Leslie is also involved in organizing and planning programs on patient outreach, advocacy, and education on Rheumatic Heart Disease. In her role as country director for Team Heart, Ms. Kaze is looking forward to furthering RHD prevention and awareness outreach around Rwanda, as well as supporting increased capacity building for a local cardiac surgery program. In the future, Leslie plans to pursue a master’s degree in health management to further her knowledge on policy and resource allocation and management in developing countries such as Rwanda to ensure an inclusive health system and access for all.

After I returned from Rwanda, each time I passed my to do list, my pencil hovered to cross off Rwanda–I could not do it. Rwanda was not finished.

I am thankful to Team Heart for saving my life and allow me to return to my studies energetically and it does me proud to be studying public health

Rwanda can eradicate rheumatic heart disease in a generation-it is an achievable goal

I consider being a part of Team Heart to be the biggest achievement in my nursing career, and one of the best parts of my life!