You have to get up pretty early in the morning to overwhelm Leslie Greene Bowman. No, really. You have to get up early. That’s because the President of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, known to the rest of us as Monticello, rises with the sun and puts one of her six horses through its paces before she even gets breakfast
(“I don’t drink coffee,” she admits, “because you couldn’t live with me if I did”). Though it was only 10 o’clock on the morning C met with the native Californian, Bowman had already been out for a total of 90 minutes with Zydeco, the Dutch Warmblood she rides most regularly, been in touch with her assistant and styled herself into a fabulous mint-green Carlisle suit and a kicking pair of brown slip-ons she picked up in Switzerland.
Bowman’s energy and appeal go a long way to account for her success at the job she assumed in October 2008. In the short time since, she’s gracefully aired out the Little Mountain and made it more welcoming to visitors from here and afar. Evening programs, select tours of previously unseen rooms upstairs, a grand refiguring of the all-important dining room—Bowman’s had her reins on all of them. And more’s coming.
An avid reader, the art historian by training had just finished Jane Austen’s Persuasion when we talked. She’s a confessed “ideas factory,” but besides riding, we wondered how she winds down or gives herself a treat when the time is right.
“I try to be asleep by 11,” she says, “and I really go for Lindt Peanut Butter Truffle Balls.”