“Leon’s memoir is a powerful, raw chronicle of survival that morphs into a moving story about mentorship, strength, familial love, self-transformation, the power of education, and the importance of self-acceptance.” —NPR

Jesse Leon is a social impact consultant to foundations and investors on ways to address issues of substance abuse, addiction, affordable housing, and mental health. He is a native English and Spanish speaker and fluent in Portuguese. He is an alum of UC Berkeley and Harvard and based in San Diego.

Born to indigenous working-class Mexican immigrants in San Diego in the 1970s, Jesse Leon writes about his ruptured childhood in his memoir. I’m Not Broken is the heartbreaking and remarkable story of the journey Jesse takes to win back his life, leading him to the steps of Harvard University. From being the lone young person of color in Narcotics Anonymous meetings to coming to terms with his own sexual identity, to becoming an engaged mentor for incarcerated youth, Jesse finds the will to live with the love and support of his family, friends, and mentors. Recounting the extraordinary circumstances of his life, Jesse offers a powerful, raw testament to the possibilities of self-transformation and self-acceptance. Unforgettable, I’m Not Broken is an inspirational portrait of one young man’s indomitable strength and spirit to survive—against all possible odds.

Jesse is happy to present to both English and Spanish speaking audiences.

No estoy roto Una memoria

Vintage Espanol |
Memoir

No estoy roto es un libro para sobrevivientes y para aquellos que tienen en sus vidas a alguien que esperan que se salve.” —Sandra Cisneros

“Esta memoria es el recuento de una vida llena de experiencias desgarradoras, pero también renovada gracias a una profunda fortaleza interior y a una determinación imparable por superarse”. —Darren Walker, Presidente de la Fundación Ford

Nacido en San Diego, en 1970, e hijo de inmigrantes mexicanos indígenas y de clase trabajadora, la infancia de Jesse León fue violentamente interrumpida. Un peligroso encuentro en una tienda local lo dejó guardando un oscuro y terrible secreto. En esta valiente memoria, León arroja luz sobre una juventud devastada por el abuso sexual, las drogas y la vida en la calle.

Su paso por Narcóticos Anónimos, su lucha por aceptar su orientación sexual y por entender que era un ser humano valioso a pesar de sus terribles experiencias, dieron resultado: León no solo se graduó en Harvard, sino que se convirtió en un servidor para la comunidad. En el camino a encontrar su voluntad de vivir, la ayuda de su familia, sus amigos y guías, fue un apoyo invaluable.

No estoy roto es una conmovedora historia de resiliencia, un poderoso e inspirador retrato de la fuerza y el espíritu indo­mables de un joven determinado a sobrevivir.

No estoy roto es un poderoso recuerdo de que el espíritu humano puede ser realmente resistente cuando se alimenta de fe, amor y esperanza”. -Pedro Noguera, Decano de la Escuela Rossier de Educación

I’m Not Broken: A Memoir

Vintage |
Memoir

In this unflinching and inspiring memoir, Jesse Leon tells an extraordinary story of resilience and survival, shining a light on a childhood spent devastated by sex trafficking, street life, and substance abuse.

“A book for survivors and those who know someone they hope survives, bodhisattvas all.”  —Sandra Cisneros, bestselling author of The House on Mango Street

Born to indigenous working-class Mexican immigrants in San Diego in the 1970s, Jesse Leon’s childhood was violently ruptured. A dangerous and harrowing encounter at a local gift shop when he was eleven years old left Jesse with a deadly secret. Hurt, alone, and scared for his life, Jesse numbed his pain by losing himself in the hyper-masculine culture of the streets and wherever else he could find it—in alcohol, drugs, and prostitution. Overlooked by state-sanctioned institutions and systems intended to help victims of abuse, neglected like many other low-income Latinos, Jesse spiraled into cycles of suicide and substance abuse.

I’m Not Broken is the heartbreaking and remarkable story of the journey Jesse takes to win back his life, leading him to the steps of Harvard University. From being the lone young person of color in Narcotics Anonymous meetings to coming to terms with his own sexual identity, to becoming an engaged mentor for incarcerated youth, Jesse finds the will to live with the love and support of his family, friends, and mentors. Recounting the extraordinary circumstances of his life, Jesse offers a powerful, raw testament to the possibilities of self-transformation and self-acceptance. Unforgettable, I’m Not Broken is an inspirational portrait of one young man’s indomitable strength and spirit to survive—against all possible odds.

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The Jesse Leon Story ­­–– Surviving to Thriving

Self-acceptance.  Self-transformation.  Overcoming adversity to move from merely surviving to thriving.  Jesse Leon’s inspiring life story – a journey from seeming hopelessness to graduating from Harvard and a career improving the lives of others – shows audiences the way.

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Finding Your Way in the Corporate World – Without Losing Yourself

Do we really want diversity in the workplace? Jesse recounts his experiences with inclusion, authenticity and belonging in corporate leadership roles, senior leadership roles in philanthropy, and corporate and nonprofit board rooms. As a person who has overcome serious trauma impacted by race, class, gender, and sexuality, he offers a powerful testament to the possibility of transforming the workplace to create atmospheres of acceptance.

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Achieving Educational Equity Through Supporting Students in Need

Too many kids in need slip through the cracks.  Jesse Leon was one of them.  Yet, he was able to take his life back and his inspiring story offers lessons for educators on how to identify, intervene, and assist youth struggling with issues of identity, poverty, substance abuse, gangs, and sex trafficking.

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Moving Forward Together (Guiding America Forward)

America’s divisions are stalling progress on important social issues. Jesse uses his powerful life story and experiences as a social impact consultation to show us a way to move forward together on vital issues such as racial, social and economic justice, homelessness and affordable housing, education, substance abuse, drug addiction, and sex trafficking.

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Creating Opportunity for At-Risk Youth

A single mistake can change a life forever.  Jesse Leon narrowly avoided prison because he lacked important life skills.  He’s now a successful social impact coach, and Jesse’s story offers effective strategies for mentoring programs, high schools, and community colleges to create alternative pathways to prison for at-risk youth.

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Different Worlds, Latino & LGBTQ

Coming to terms with sexual identity can be especially difficult for Latinos. Jesse recounts his personal journey of self-acceptance, which began with his self-hatred of blaming his sexual abuse on confusion about his identity. Touching on “machismo,” internalized homophobia and the cultural, classist, and often racist barriers existing in gay communities, Jesse talks about finding his place within the LGBTQ+ community spectrum.

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How to Fix The Holes In Our Social Safety Net

For Jesse — as with many Latino and other people of color survivors of sex abuse and sex trafficking — the services offered by state sanctioned institutions and programs to help abuse victims were not sufficient. Building on his personal experiences — coupled with his expertise in public policy, philanthropy and his work in creating public-private partnerships — Jesse provides ideas for how government agencies can do better to help survivors move from living in trauma to being triumphant.

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Real Estate Development and Social Impact –– Do Well and Do Good

Do well and do good at the same time. Build wealth and stronger communities.  Drawing on experience developing over 5,000 units of mixed-income housing, social impact investor and philanthropy consultant Jesse Leon offers lessons for real estate developers and affordable housing advocates.

Honors, Awards & Recognition

NPR Best Book of the Year
San Francisco Chronicle Favorite Book of 2022

Media Kit

By clicking the link below your will be directed to a Google Docs Folder
where you can download author photos and cover images.

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