Decided I wanted to write this week about someone in our industry who is changing the world. Literally, one person at a time.
In my many years being associated with Xplor I have met some incredible people, people that have changed how the world communicates. I have also people who have worked to change the world outside of our industry. Ken Leslie is one of those people.
I thought of Ken this week as I watched his online auction for 1Matters, a program Ken founded to get the Homeless off the streets including our American Veterans.
Describing Ken is difficult. Alcoholic and drug addict (sober for 25+ years), homeless, comedian, Emmy winner, business owner, founding funder/founding member of the Toledo/Lucas County Homelessness Board (TLC) and founder of 1Matters. Ken, also is a longtime Xplor member, owner of E-DocTalent and former Chair of the association board.
As a comic he has shared bills with such acts as DL Hugely, Sinbad, Seinfeld, Sam Kinison, Frankie Valli, the Righteous Brothers, and occasionally still headlines regional comedy clubs or the Stranahan Theater.
Beyond his comedy career, Ken had gotten into television production in the 90’s. He produced and wrote many programs, including three award-winning documentaries on homelessness: “No House to Hold,” “Homeless Not Hopeless” and “A Home for the Holidays,” as well an Emmy-winning baseball feature with the Detroit Tigers in 1992.
In 1990 he started the Homeless Awareness Project (HAP), the all-volunteer organization became a national global advocacy group providing real time collaborative solutions to move un-housed individuals and families into domestic autonomy.
In 2008 HAP became 1Matters after a visit by singer John Mellencamp to their annual event. John was moved by the collaboration and invited all of the guests to his concert that evening where he talked with them from the stage. One guest returned to Project Connect and said “Ken, John talked to us from the stage, I guess I really do matter.” 1Matters was born. Mr. Mellencamp and others in the music industry continue to support the organization.
In addition to 1Matters, Ken is still sober, still running his business and still doing comedy and television when the mood or project strikes including “Called To Duty,” the 2002 Crystal Award of Merit winning documentary about firefighters. His story is amazing.
To learn more about Ken and 1Matters visit http://www.1matters.org/about1matters/about-ken/
By the way, in describing Ken, I am also proud to say he is my friend.