Leslie Simon was born in New Orleans in 1951. She attended the University of New Orleans, where she received a B.A. in Special Education and a B.A. in Communications. Simon went on to complete Tulane University's Paralegal Program. She served as a paralegal with Lugenbul, Wheaton, Peck, Rankin & Hubbard. Simon was raised within the Reform Jewish community and belonged to Touro Synagogue.
Simon shared stories of her upbringing in New Orleans, including her involvement with the Jewish community, specifically Touro Synagogue, and her academic and professional path. Simon's father required surgery during the days leading up to hurricane Katerina, so she didn't learn about the projective severity of the storm until later in the week. Simon and her mom decided to stay and started preparing. Once they heard that the levees broke, Simon knew she and her mother had to leave; the hospital evacuated her father. Simon and her mother attempted to leave by car, but extensive flooding blocked their path. Returning to the apartment, Simon decided instead to go to the Superdome. A neighbor drove her and her mother, but she had to leave her dog at home. The water was rising, and trees and wires were falling into the roads so they couldn't make it to their destination. Instead, they end up at a hotel near where Simon left her car the day before. She described the chaos surrounding that part of the city and the lack of communication between the citizens and the police. With her mother, Simon got her car and drove to Baton Rouge, where they stayed with a family who had volunteered to host evacuees. Their hosts offered to help track down her father, who, she eventually learned, was in Layfette. Her father didn't want to move back to New Orleans, and Simon and her mother agreed, so they purchased a house in the Layfette area. Simon chronicled the rescue of her dog two weeks after the storm. Simon reflected on how the storm influenced her ideas of home and the government and altered her relationship with God.