Booker T. grad shares global adventures daily with millions online.
Andrea Leitch and her mother, Debborah Ludi Leitch, in Washington, D.C., where Leitch resides. Leitch is the digital director of travel for National Geographic Magazine.
Courtesy Andrea Leitch
Vital stats: Andrea Leitch is a 2003 graduate of Booker T. Washington High School. After graduating from the University of Oklahoma, she returned to Tulsa, where she was the online editor for TulsaPeople Magazine until 2010.
Now: Digital director of travel for National Geographic Magazine.
What did you do in between TulsaPeople and National Geographic? I left Tulsa to oversee the digital platforms for Bethesda Magazine and Arlington Magazine, two lifestyle magazines near Washington, D.C. I was the online editor for both publications and was a contributing writer to the print products.
Tell us about your job at National Geographic. I oversee the creation of travel content for the publication across National Geographic’s digital and social media platforms, and share the amazing travel stories and photography that you see every day on NationalGeographic.com. We reach millions daily with authentic stories about transformative travel, whether it’s through the lens of a photographer in Iceland, an explorer in the Congo or a writer traveling through Tulsa on Route 66 (which did happen last year).
The most enthralling place I’ve visited was Malta, which is a hidden gem in the Mediterranean. It’s comprised of three small islands covered in flowers and vineyards and surrounded by shimmering turquoise waters with docked yachts. My guide had never heard of Oklahoma, so it was exciting for me to tell him about my home state.
While in Budapest, I stayed at the hotel that inspired Wes Anderson’s film “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” It was fun because I taught the staff that the word “pop” means soda in Oklahoma, which they hadn’t heard before. They thought it was a funny word for soda, so they recently emailed me and said they now say “pop” with all of their English-speaking guests. It’s interesting because in some places, locals say that I’m the first Oklahoman they have ever met, so I try to be the best Oklahoma/Tulsa ambassador and encourage foreigners to visit the 918!
How did your upbringing in Tulsa prepare you for your occupation? I am where I am because of my parents and how they raised me. My parents are my greatest supporters, and I want to make them proud every day because they have given my siblings and me the best life possible. The hardest thing I’ve done in my life was move from Tulsa because I am so attached to the people there, but my parents always encouraged me to travel and go after my dreams, and so I did.
Tulsa is home to the kindest people I’ve met in the world — and I think that kindness is why I’m a good communicator with different people I work with around the world. In my job, you have to adapt quickly to different personalities and cultures, and kindness is a universal language that everyone understands and appreciates.
What do you miss most about Tulsa? I miss my family and friends the most, but they always welcome me home with open arms. I also miss QuikTrip, cookies from Old School Bagel Café, the sunsets and the clock chimes at Utica Square.
I am grateful for the time I spent at TulsaPeople because Jim Langdon hired me fresh out of college and handed me the keys to TulsaPeople.com. I had never worked on a website before, but he trusted me to create and moderate the digital expression of his magazine. If I hadn’t had that opportunity, I wouldn’t have my job now. I also miss my coworkers because we were like a family. (Former Managing Editor) Kendall Barrow is still one of my greatest mentors, and I can’t imagine having better coworkers than I had at TulsaPeople, especially ones who cared so much about the community.