Lesley has a PhD in Politics and International Studies from the University of Queensland (UQ). A Peace and Conflict Studies specialist, Lesley also completed her Masters of International Studies (Peace & Conflict Resolution) at UQ, supported by a competitive Rotary Ambassadorial Fellowship. At UQ, she was awarded a Dean’s Commendation for High Achievement.
In addition to her teaching and research experience over the last ten years, she also has professional experience in the political realm, including working on the US presidential campaign in 2004 and serving as a Legislative Correspondent for Senator Harry Reid (US Congress) on the environment portfolio from 2004-2005.
In 2003 Lesley was awarded the prestigious Truman Scholarship, a US government fellowship awarded to approximately one candidate per year per state in the US, in recognition of contributions to scholarship, leadership and service.
Following her PhD, Lesley took up a postdoctoral research fellowship at Victoria University, where she won a Research Development Grant. She then won a McKenzie Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at the University of Melbourne, where she was also awarded a Faculty Research Development Grant.
Lesley has held visiting research fellowships at George Mason University’s Peacekeeping Operations Policy Program (Washington DC) in 2012 and at the Political Science Department, Universidad de los Andes (Bogota, Colombia) in 2013.
In 2014 she completed a Melbourne Certificate in University Teaching and was a named collaborator on an Australian Catholic University Research Funding grant along with colleagues Mark Chou and Jean-Paul Gagnon. Finally, in 2014 she designed, organized, and hostedCritical/Constructive/Creative: New Approaches to Young People’s Politics, a full-day research workshop attended by 18 invited participants including policymakers and practitioners as well as academics ranging from PhD students up to full professors from 11 different Australian universities and institutions.
Her book, Youth Peacebuilding: Music, Gender, and Change, was published by SUNY Press as part of its 'Praxis: Theory in Action' series in 2013 and was re-released in paperback in 2014.