Aquila Leon-Soon serves as the Visionary, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of ATS + Partners (ATS). With humble beginnings growing up in a low-income area of Brooklyn (NY), Aquila knows first hand how important high-performing organizations can uplift and advance people in underserved communities. Aquila’s future was shaped on many levels through her involvement as a youth with local education programs providing enrichment through travel as well as mentoring programs that connected her to high profile finance executives, among others. It was her strong connection to local programs and her personal career aspirations that formed the foundation for Aquila to help transform forward-thinking organizations.
Aquila began her professional career in a communications capacity at The Kamber Group, a leading public relations/lobbying Washington D.C. firm. There, she earned early accolades for her support work with Fisk University, Pfizer and the Doe Fund. After earning a favorable reputation as a communicator, Aquila embarked on an ten-year career in the public sector that has served as the cornerstone of her career.
Recognized for her personalized approach and attention to detail, Aquila served as a Spokeswoman for The Special Commissioner of Investigation for the New York City School District. In this role, she helped convey key messages to the public related to a high profile corruption cases. Demonstrating her ability to adapt her experience as needed, she joined the New York City Department of Information Technology & Telecommunications managing citywide IT projects on behalf of several agencies including NYC Department of Human Resources Administration and the Mayor's Office for Immigrant Affairs. In this role, she managed the development and implementation of NYC’s first computer simulated civil service exam and supported the launch of NYC's first benefit communications online platform, ACCESS NYC.
However, it wasn’t until Aquila transitioned to the New York City Department of Education that she was able to truly tap into her lifelong commitment to making communities stronger. Through various roles in the department, Aquila’s passion for mission-driven entities grew stronger. Moving through the Office of Accountability and Charter School Office, Aquila’s calling was evident as she supported the creation and launch of over a dozen charter schools and expanded her reach by working with independent charter schools. Some of her achievements include compiling the Education Department’s first Charter School Directory for parents as well as managing the operations of 32 school district offices citywide.
Following her impressive tenure with the Department of Education, she accepted the position of Managing Director of School Development & Partnerships for a charter school management organization. Under her leadership, she managed the opening of a new charter middle school in Newark, NJ that served 300 students and created more than 30 jobs for the community. Staying close to the project, she oversaw the school’s operations including financial and academics on interim basis. In this role, she also helped increase community-based organizations’ educational impact through capacity-support building and development; identified best practices and developed a various tools for clients. Most notably, Aquila made further impact as she led a team that conducted competitor and market research; developed business contracts in two new service markets and increased independent clientele by 85 percent.
Today, Aquila brings over 20+ years of professional experience to her ATS clients. With its proven track record, ATS successfully enhances the effectiveness of mission-driven entities by providing them with customized strategies in alignment with their goals. Aquila’s personalized and thoughtful approach to assisting her clients in meeting their social and economic objectives is what upholds her firm’s stellar reputation. With over 40 clients across three states, her clients include the New York City Department of Education, Brooklyn Navy Yard and Partnership with Children.
On a personal level, Aquila has shared her expertise as a volunteer board member for non-profit organizations. She has served on numerous non-profit boards including Achievement First East New York Charter School, New York Womens' Agenda and the New York Staffing Association. She also a member of 85 Broads (Ellevate), American Staffing Association and the Society of Human Resource Management.
Aquila holds a Master in Business Administration from Columbia Business School, a Master in Public Administration from Long Island University through the Mayor's Graduate Scholarship Program and Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Philosophy from Syracuse University. She resides in New Jersey with her husband and two daughters.
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