Lesley is a senior research scientist in the Public Health department who is an expert in qualitative and mixed methods research and excels at rapport building, facilitation, and uncovering emergent themes in data. She has a background in sociology and social psychology, and applies her understanding of perceptions, group dynamics, and predictors of behavior to identify actionable information to improve public health programs and initiatives.
Lesley conducts research on a range of topics, and her recent work focuses primarily on cancer and violence prevention. In the cancer space, Lesley leads several projects aiming to advance health equity and improve providers’ support for patients. For the Federal Cervical Cancer Collaborative, Watson and her team convened a roundtable series with experts from across the U.S., U.S. Territories, and Freely Associated States to inform the development of a federal opportunities report to increase interagency collaboration, and a toolkit to support safety-net settings of care in adopting evidence-based practices. In violence prevention, Lesley works for a range of federal clients to address topics including sexual assault, bullying, and intimate partner violence. For CDC’s Division of Violence Prevention, Lesley led a team that conducted formative research on violence prevention topics to inform message development, and conducted online focus group discussions to test and refine messaging.
Prior to joining NORC, Lesley worked at the American Cancer Society as lead qualitative researcher in the Statistics and Evaluation Center. There she conducted process and outcome evaluations of pilot programs to establish and improve cancer screening referral programs in Federally Qualified Health Centers. She also led strategic planning efforts for the organization, and created communications collateral to translate the impact of organizational activities for a range of stakeholders, including legislators, volunteers, and donors. Lesley also worked as a research and evaluation consultant at ICF, serving as a qualitative methods technical leader and task lead on domestic and international projects.
University of Tulsa
Appointments & Affiliations
Advisory Board Member | 2016 - Present
Comparative Methods for Cross-Case Analysis Network
Honors & Awards
Evidence into Practice Award | 2019
Academy of Oncology Nurse and Patient Navigators
opens in new tab"Cancer Survivor Worries about Treatment Disruption and Detrimental Health Outcomes Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic."
Journal Article | February 25, 2021
opens in new tab"Implementation of a Lung Cancer Screening Program in Two Federally Qualified Health Centers."
Journal Article | January 29, 2021
opens in new tab"Successes and Challenges of Implementing a Lung Cancer Screening Program in Federally Qualified Health Centers: A Qualitative Analysis Using the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research."
Journal Article | January 29, 2021
opens in new tab"Facilitators and Barriers to the Implementation of the HPV VACs (Vaccinate Adolescents Against Cancers) Program: A Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research Analysis."
Journal Article | July 3, 2019
opens in new tab"Situating the Self in Global Context: Reconceptualizing Transnational and Cosmopolitan Identities."
Journal Article | July 17, 2018
opens in new tab"When Legitimacy Shapes Environmentally Responsible Behaviors: Considering Exposure to University Sustainability Initiatives."
Journal Article | April 13, 2017
opens in new tab"Social Dynamics of Legitimacy and Justice."
Book | February 5, 2016
opens in new tab"Living Green: Examining Sustainable Dorms and Identities."
Journal Article | May 5, 2015