Lesley is an experienced public speaker with over 10 years of presenting at conferences, training workshops, and keynoting. Her talks focus on bringing together theory & ideas to share with participants through a lens of storytelling. She has prepared sessions available, but is also happy to craft a talk specifically to meet your outcomes.

Assessment Talk Series

What is Assessment?

Assessment starts with curiosity; wondering if the work you do all day is actually making a difference. Is it contributing to your goals? What about the goals of your unit or department? How about the institution? We can figure out all of these things simply by asking questions, being observant, writing it down, and trying to use that information to be better at what we do. Which is all assessment really is. Lesley will cover the different types of assessment, how to conquer our fears, and what we have to gain.

Learning Outcomes

Building assessment into our work and our minds forces us to be more proactive and reflective about tying all our decisions back to our original values, goals, and outcomes (i.e. our why). The positive effects go beyond a better work product; we will be more fulfilled and mentally healthy if we have certainty that our daily actions are feeding into a higher purpose. Lesley talks about the reason we use learning outcomes and how we can build good ones to assess for, as, and of learning.

Ryerson Student Affairs Staff Training

Data Storytelling

Storytelling is by no means a new concept. Humans have been using stories to educate, entertain, and remember for thousands of years because stories stick with us. Data is vital to good decision-making and though we can gather and report our data until we’re exhausted, it won’t make a difference if people don’t hear us. We need to translate it into a story to help others feel the impact of our results. Lesley will talk about how to effectively collect data, frame it into a compelling story, and then effectively tell your data story in a variety of mediums.

Ontario University & College Health Association
Ryerson Student Affairs Staff Summit

Practice-based Research in Student Affairs

Practice-based research is not a new idea, and is used in fields such as creative arts and social work. It refers to the act of applying research frameworks to questions posed within day-to-day practice. Then, we can integrate academic research and field practice, and continue to amass a body of Student Affairs research.

CACUSS National Conference
The Ohio State University 2016 Student Affairs Assessment & Research Conference


Development Series

Student Affairs Parents & Educators

Taking parental leave from work can be a source of anxiety for career-focused professionals. Lesley relates her personal story about how she devoted time to develop a new professional skill while on leave with her second baby, and how that made a huge difference in her mental health and career success. Managers can help support choice and offer opportunities for engagement to staff going on leave as well. Using a backdrop of adult learning theory, she discusses challenges parents face, and strategies that all can use to help staff achieve the balance they’re looking for.

ACPA Annual Convention: Women Leading the Way
Ryerson TEDx Women: Do Moms Belong in the Workplace

How To Bounce Back from Failure

Failure has so many negative connotations and yet is integral to innovation, learning, and growth. Lesley talks about how her own failures have defined her success and direction in life. She’s made failure a core element of her philosophy of practice and always tells new staff that the greatest gift they can receive as an employee is the freedom to fail. While it seems unorthodox, the freedom to fail does not equate to a reality where failure is common. In fact, more often than not, the greatest successes come from this type of empowerment. Through storytelling she’ll talk about concrete steps we can take to get the most powerful learning from our failures, develop our capacity for resilience, and how to help others do the same.

Ryerson Leadership 6 Ideas: Failure & Resilience

Past Presentations

  • 2016 Ryerson TEDx Women – Do Moms Belong in the Workplace?
  • 2016 Ontario University & College Health Association – Health Promotion Section PD – Data Storytelling
  • 2016 Ryerson Student Leadership Program 6 Ideas – Failure & Resilience
  • 2016 Ryerson Student Affairs Summit – Data Storytelling
  • 2016 Student Affairs Assessment & Research Conference – The Ohio State University (SAARC) – Practice-based Research in Student Affairs
  • 2016 Canadian Association of College & University Student Services (CACUSS) – Big Ideas Session: Applying Practice-based Research Frameworks in Student Affairs
  • 2016 Canadian Association of College & University Student Services (CACUSS) – Orientation Benchmarking: The First Canadian National Survey
  • 2016 American College Personnel Association (ACPA) – Women Leading Women: It’s Not a Zero-Sum Game
  • 2015 Ryerson Student Affairs Professional Development Conference – Assessment 101
  • 2012 Ryerson Orientation Crew Training Conference – Closing Keynote Address
  • 2011 Canadian Association of College & University Student Services (CACUSS) – Women & Work/Life Balance
  • 2009 Canadian Association of College & University Student Services (CACUSS) – Urban Mentoring
  • 2009 Ryerson Tri-Mentoring Program “Mentoring Journeys” Conference – Virtual Community Building
  • 2007 Canadian Association of College & University Student Services (CACUSS) – Move Out Madness
  • 2006 Canadian Association of College & University Student Services (CACUSS) – Women Leading the Way



Angie Clarke on Twitter

@RyersonJohn @RyersonSA @LesleyDSz @jengonzales8 was a truly exceptional presentation! Authentic, honest and grounded!

CandyCoatedRaindrops on Twitter

Loved the presentation and the time to fellowship with other women. Thanks! @lesleydsz and @jengonzales8 #ACPA16 #RyersonSA

Arthur Ramsay on Twitter

@LesleyDSz Great talk about impostor syn., support networks, and barriers in advising/helping student leaders at #ACPA16 #RoadFromRyerson

Luke Gobert on Twitter

Rocking assessment with @LesleyDSz and @the__brando at #RyersonSA conference. “You’re probably doing assessment already–and don’t know it!


© Copyright 2016 - Lesley D'Souza * Photos by Katherine Holland Photography