Leslie Jacobson has spent close to 40 years producing, writing, directing, and teaching theatre committed to addressing societal challenges and to giving voice to people often marginalized by the dominant culture. She is the Founding Artistic Director of Horizons Theatre. Under her leadership from 1977 to 2007, Horizons introduced Washington audiences to over 60 new plays and playwrights through fully staged productions, and another 50 through public staged readings. The Women’s Committee of the Dramatists Guild gave Horizons a special award for its outstanding work in producing plays by women playwrights. Jacobson has been nominated for the Helen Hayes Award in the category of Outstanding Director three times. Her production of A…My Name Is Alice received a Helen Hayes Award for outstanding production; and her production of Chris White’s Rhythms won the Charles MacArthur Award for best new play.
Jacobson has been a Professor of Theatre at The George Washington University since 1977. She served as Chair of the Department of Theatre & Dance for 13 years, during which time she helped bring the Academy for Classical Acting to GW, and inaugurated several other new courses and programs.
In 2003, Jacobson began a relationship with the impoverished rural township of Winterveldt, South Africa. In collaboration with composer Roy Barber, she has created seven music/theatre pieces with at-risk youth from the Bokamoso Youth Centre in Winterveldt, addressing the many challenges confronting these youth. Since 2003, she has helped organize an annual cultural exchange program, where 12 youth travel to Washington each January to perform and serve as informal ambassadors to the D.C. community. They have a residency at GW. Each summer, Jacobson takes GW students with her to work at the Bokamoso Youth Centre.
In 2008, Jacobson was awarded a Fulbright Senior Research Fellowship to Australia. She was a member of the 2001 Leadership America class, joining 99 other women leaders from around the country; and is a past president of the League of Washington Theatres. She graduated cum laude with a degree in Theatre, from Northwestern University, and with a Master of Fine Arts in Directing from Boston University.