Staff Spotlight: Leah Buffington Makes Sure Every Event is Special
Leah Buffington is the special programs coordinator in the Office of the Dean. In this role, she works to enhance the visibility of the college by creating and implementing inclusive programs for the TCE community. She works closely with the dean to turn the college’s strategic plan into reality, serving as project manager and working closely with partners across campus.
“One of my favorite things to do is partner people with vendors and other campus units,” said Buffington. “I enjoy developing relationships with a variety of vendors and then sharing them with my TCE colleagues. Need a balloon artist? Custom linens? The perfect orange popcorn? Just let me know!”
She is the key campus liaison for members of the TCE Board of Advisors, and organizes biannual TCE Board of Advisors meetings. She also coordinates staff appreciation events, conferences, receptions, dinners, grand openings, ribbon cuttings, town halls, and more.
“I worked as the dean’s assistant to (Dean Emeritus) Wayne Davis for five years before transitioning to my current position,” said Buffington. “I learned so much from being in the dean’s office, and I apply that to my current position. It has helped me have a wider perspective of the college and I am thankful for that.”
Her welcoming demeanor and variety of life experience also help this Waynesboro, Mississippi, native succeed in her TCE role. Before moving to Knoxville in 2012 with her husband Brock, Buffington earned her bachelor’s degree in communication at Mississippi College, Clinton, and her master’s degree in public policy and administration at Mississippi State University, Starkville. She is currently working towards her PhD in higher education administration here at UT, expecting to complete in 2023.
Her accomplishments outside of academia have also found her navigating an array of insightful experiences.
“After college, I lived for one year in Santiago, Chile, as a missionary,” said Buffington. “I taught school and it was a wonderful experience.”
She and Brock and have also dabbled in real estate since moving to Tennessee, but she keeps her time filled more often coordinating her family. The Buffington bunch includes daughters Vanna and Roxie and son Baker. They added Dolly, a Goldendoodle, in December 2020.
“I am busy chasing little ones these days!” laughed Buffington. “When I do have free time, I am in class, reading, writing, or researching for school. My interest areas are women in leadership, organizational leadership, and exploring critical feminist theory.”
She integrates some self-care into her schedule through reading, listening to true crime podcasts, family time, naps, girls’ trips, and enjoying “really good food.”
Buffington brings attention to detail and TLC to her TCE role, exuding the Volunteer Spirit for every program she oversees.