Margaret Leontyev: A Working Interview

Margaret Leontyev, with her wavy dark hair, smiles at the camera in a navy blue dress and long silver necklace. Behind her, abstract wall art with geometric shapes and muted colors sets a sophisticated tone—perfect for her working interview.

It’s not always easy to chase down Margaret Leontyev. She not only moves fast, but the longtime catering manager has many different projects that she is working on, all at the same time. We ended up chatting while Margaret multi-tasked.

“Events are a big part of my job,” said Margaret, as she moves toward her computer.  “We organize and prepare everything, set up, and then clean up afterwards.  For some events we will also help serve as well.”

Margaret opens her spreadsheets to share the hundreds of invoices she codes, signs, and tracks monthly for both sides of campus, and then sends to accounting.  Margaret loves crunching the numbers. Each month she also creates reports on spending.

Human Resources Director Geneva Dougal says people are always talking about Margaret’s wonderfulness and how amazing her spreadsheets look. “If Margaret’s ears are itching,” said Geneva, “it’s because people are always saying nice things about her. She is brilliant.”

Margaret and her husband Andrey came to the United States from Lithuania in the late 1990s to join Andrey’s six sisters and two brothers who had earlier moved to the states.  In 2014, Andrey’s mother (who is now 93), also joined the rest of her family as she flew in from Ukraine.

Cedar Sinai Park was the first job offer that Margaret received in the United States.  Formally trained as a civil engineer in Lithuania, Margaret started as a server at Rose Schnitzer Manor when it opened its doors in January of 1998.

Ten years ago, Margaret became catering manager, and in January she celebrated her 25th year at Cedar Sinai Park.

“I like it here,” said Margaret. “The philosophy of Jewish facility to respect, to love, and to be kind; I truly support what we stand for.  And the friendships that we have formed with everyone truly makes this job so fulfilling and rewarding.”

Was there ever a time in 25 years when Margaret wasn’t busy?!

“No, never,” she says. “It’s not in my character to not do something. I like people who work hard and who pursue goals.”

Did the 25 years go fast?

“Yes, very fast. We have had hard times, and we have had good times,” Margaret says, smiling.

It’s probably no surprise that when Margaret leaves Cedar Sinai Park for the day, she goes home to cook.

“I’m always cooking,” she said. “We have a big family [three grandchildren now] and a fruit tree orchard. We are planting tomatoes and cucumbers, and I am canning, making sauerkraut for winter.”

“Margaret is always helping, even if you don’t ask,” says Dusanka, over the whirr of the blender.

Dusanka has also been with Cedar Sinai Park in food service for many decades, and added: “Margaret is so dedicated. She always jumps in to help and she makes sure everything is done. I’ve seen her line up tables and tablecloths in Zidell Hall; and they have to be just right before she is satisfied.

“Margaret will never walk away from an event until it’s perfect. She really deserves to have her story told.”