Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth was first drawn to the Reader while coming of age in the city. “Growing up, the Reader was the authority for me on what to do and where to go in Chicago,” she says. Things came full circle in 2018, when she officially joined the paper as a senior account executive and unofficially as its staff-meeting photographer. “Today, I’m able to not only witness, but be a part of a team of amazing humans working every day to reflect back unique stories of Chicagoans that make this city work,” she says. Leni has a unique Chicago story herself: A classically trained ballerina, she graduated from the Chicago Academy for the Arts before earning her Bachelor’s degree in physical therapy at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her love of dance proved to be irrepressible, though, and in the early ’00s she opened dancewear shop Chicago Dance Supply in Andersonville. Leni discovered her fierce political spirit during the turbulent 2016 presidential election, and she channeled it into founding two local chapters of the Indivisible Project (Indivisible Illinois and Indivisible Illinois 9th District Anderson-Edgewater), a nationwide direct-action movement that supports inclusion, tolerance, and democracy. Leni brings her passion for community to her work at the paper, where in addition to sales, she’s spearheaded an initiative to enhance the paper’s relationships with Chicago’s nonprofit community, and collaborates with columnist Ben Joravsky to book grassroots political leaders on his weekly podcast. Outside of work, the north sider enjoys Argentine Tango dancing at Lincoln Square’s Barba Yianni restaurant, relaxing at the Foster Avenue Beach, and spending time with her husband Mike; their teenagers Joseph, Sydney, and Sam; and their two cats, CC and Jessie.

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