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Founder Story

Debra J. SloverCompany Founder
~ Debra J. Slover


Little did her parents know when they named and raised their daughter Debra - a name that stands for "bee" - that they had sealed her fate as the pollinator of the world's Leadership Garden.

When Debra was 23, she lost her mother to suicide. Transcending her loss, she applied her passion, creativity, and quest to thrive to her vision for empowering unique leadership. For the next 20 years, she employed that passion as the director of a statewide youth leadership in prevention program called OSSOM (Oregon Student Safety On the Move). She privately joked that the students would blossom with OSSOM. Not only did she love acronyms, but garden metaphors.

Debra established Leadership Garden Services (formerly Synergy in Motion) in 2003 out of a commitment and passion to empower the unstoppable leader in each of us and herself, after yet another loss. The funding for the program so dear to her heart had ended. By now she was no stranger to loss and setbacks, and become more determined to thrive in any storm life offers.

In 2006, Debra formed Leader Garden Press and wrote U.N.I.Q.U.E.: Growing the Leader Within to articulate her lifelong passion and commitment to empower the unstoppable leader, with a unique purpose and aim, in everyone.

An outgrowth of this effort was the formation of Leadership Garden Enterprises, LLC as the parent company of her two business entities.

Debra's ultimate dream was to provide funding to support the practice of unique leadership and recognition for leader-friendly gardening efforts where working cooperatively makes a positive difference, locally and globally.

In 2008, Debra achieved her dream and established the Leadership Garden Fund. She now spends her time pollinating Leadership Gardens to sprout greatness.

She is the proud mother and grandmother of five children and eight grandchildren. Her greatest joy in life is tending to her blended family Leadership Garden and watching her grandchildren flourish.

Debra lives in Albany, Oregon with her husband, Terry, and dog Mooko.

Professional Background:

Debra earned her Bachelor of Science Degree in Health Education from Oregon State University in 1975 and has spent more than 32 years working with youth and adults in developing leadership capacity, both at the state and national level.

She has an extensive background in custom program design, tailored curriculum development, small and large group facilitation, and leadership coaching. Debra is highly skilled in event planning having implemented over 20 youth-led statewide conferences, two national conferences, and over 39 youth/adult leadership camps.

Her experience includes 20 years as Director of Oregon Student Safety On the Move (OSSOM), a statewide youth leadership program promoting safe and healthy communities operated out of Oregon State University, and seven years teaching in public schools.

Throughout these years, Debra has been a presenter at numerous national, statewide and local conferences, meetings, and seminars and served two terms as President of the National Association of Teen Institutes and eight years on the Board of Directors. She has been a member, as well as chair, of numerous statewide and local committees focusing on safety and health concerns. She served one term as the Chair of the Oregon Coalition to Reduce Underage Drinking and several years of the board.