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Leanne Sanders (1945–2017): ‘She was a force of nature’

The Concordia community remembers a quick-witted lecturer and mentor in public relations
May 23, 2017
By J. Latimer, with files from the Montreal Gazette

To meet her was to remember her. Leanne Sanders had passion, style and a remarkable flare for communicating.

Many Concordia students, faculty and staff were touched by Sanders’ dynamic approach to lifelong learning at the Centre for Continuing Education (CCE), where she lectured steadily from 1990 onwards in marketing and public relations.


The university community was deeply saddened to learn that Sanders passed away in Miami, Florida, on February 23 after a battle with breast cancer. She was 71 years old.

“Leanne was a force of nature,” says Stan Schwartz, a friend for more than 40 years and fellow lecturer at the CCE.

“More than anything, she advocated for lecturers who were working professionals in their field. She drew her classroom lessons from real-life experience.”

Sanders accepted her first contract at Concordia in 1980. Beyond teaching, her career included a decade of fashion and merchandising at the Hudson’s Bay Company and Wonderbra. She also spent 12 years as the original concept developer, part-owner and operator of North America’s largest nightclub at the time, Club Metropolis, which is still in operation today.

Schwartz recalls that Sanders was known for her quick wit and encouragement in the classroom.

“Everyone became her project,” says Schwartz. “If she thought a student had a spark, she’d do everything to support them. And if she thought a student was slacking or sloppy, she let them know, too…”

‘Energy and commitment’

Carlos Messina — who teaches computer courses at the CCE and shared Sanders’ passion for South Beach, Florida — remembers her as a remarkably positive presence.

“Students loved her energy and her commitment to their careers,” says Messina. “She was particularly good at empowering those around her.”

Sanders is predeceased by her late mother Rena Cohen Issenman and father Seymour Issenman. She is survived by her stepmother Marilyn Issenman; stepsister Ellen Brozak (partner Jerry); sister Donna Grostern (Morton); nieces Rachel Grostern (Carl) and Michelle Grostern (Eric) and their children.

Learn more about Concordia’s Centre for Continuing Education.

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