Leah C. Lorendo, an adjunct instructor in the McKelvey School of Engineering, died Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, from complications of cancer. She was 66.
Lorendo co-taught Communication Excellence for Influential Leadership, a very popular graduate course in public speaking and communications, with Thomas Gregory, her longtime business partner and friend. Many students, particularly international students, said that her class changed their lives. She also taught leadership, speaking, writing and presentation skills through the Technology & Leadership Center.
“Leah helped our WashU Engineering graduate students fulfill one of our most fundamental needs: the desire to be heard and understood,” said Peggy Matson, program director and professor of practice in the Sever Institute. “She did it with great skill, inclusivity, love and grace. Leah has left her mark on hundreds of our next generation of leaders. We will all miss her dearly.”
In addition, Lorendo was principal and co-founder at Imprensia, a boutique leadership consulting firm through which she and Gregory worked with senior executives from across industries. She brought her experience as a licensed speech-language pathologist into her coaching style.
“Teaching was her true love,” Gregory said. “She had a wonderful personality that was very endearing to all people. Most people don’t like their voices, so she created a whole program called Vocal Distinction that was an enormous success. When people learned they could use their voice to influence others, their lives changed.”
Gregory said he and Lorendo loved their students.
“We told our students on the first night of class that we have one overarching goal; that we wanted to draw forth the very best from them and that they would all become exemplary leaders if they put effort into it,” Gregory said.
From 2009-2012, Lorendo was an adjunct instructor at the Olin Business School. She volunteered with the St. Patrick’s Center, LaunchCode and TEDxGateway Arch.
She earned a doctorate in health/health care administration management from the University of Mississippi as well as master’s degrees in communication sciences and disorders from Auburn University and in organizational development and leadership from Regis University.
Lorendo is survived by two brothers: Cam Lorendo, and his wife, Lynn, of New York City; and Mac Lorendo of Atlanta; a niece, Laina, and a nephew, Nolan, of Atlanta; and nephews Evan of South Africa; Ross of Dallas; and Graham of Baltimore.
A memorial mass will be held at 10 a.m. June 19 at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis. Memorial contributions may be made to Catholic Charities of St. Louis.