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Leanne Prete

Sept. 26, 2017

Leanne Prete didn’t know when she graduated that a commitment to recycling would lead to a career in research compliance. It just worked out that way.

“I harassed my college roommates to recycle,” said Prete '12M, research compliance manager with the UNCW Office of Sponsored Programs and Research Compliance. Her passion for the environment prompted her to apply for a position as an office assistant with North Carolina’s Division of Waste Management. A year later, she was promoted into her first compliance position, where she honed the skills that led her to UNCW.

“Research administration is not the kind of career you hear about as a young person, and I was not aware of the compliance programs I manage until I started working here in 2005,” she said. Her degree in marketing from Monmouth College, now Monmouth University, didn’t cover all the skills she needed, but she found she had a knack for absorbing the complex, detailed regulations governing both environmental and research compliance.

Prete left SPARC to work in human resources for four years and, after completing a master’s degree in public administration at UNCW, she returned to SPARC when an advancement opportunity presented itself. The growth and complexity of research at UNCW has increased SPARC’s role in ensuring that faculty and student research adheres to the rules set by federal agencies.

“I guess you can sum it up by saying we help researchers in the campus community find their way through a myriad of research-related regulations,” Prete said. “Our compliance areas focus on ethics and integrity, privacy and national security.”

She takes pride in finding ways to make the compliance process as easy and pain-free as possible for faculty, staff and students. “I tend to seek the types of jobs that make me feel like I’m helping people navigate a difficult process,” she said. “It makes my day when someone tells me I helped them figure out a workable solution to something they saw as overwhelming.”

Prete sets personal challenges for herself, including a commitment to daily exercise even when she has little time. “I get up in the morning and do something, even if it’s just for 10 minutes,” she said. When there is more time, she and her husband, Phil, like to ride bikes and take long walks. She also enjoys reading. Her current reading list includes novels set in Italy, where the couple recently vacationed.

One of her favorite pastimes is learning something new. “I like taking classes to build new skills such as painting and learning Italian,” said Prete. “I think the next things I’ll try to learn are how to make jewelry, play the piano and how to speak French.”

-- Tricia Vance

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