Welcome to Well Acquainted … a series of Q&A sessions dedicated to getting to know the amazing staff at Well Clinic
This week, we’re sitting down with Jeff Leininger – a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner at Well Clinic in San Francisco.
What’s your favorite part about your work?
I am inspired by my patients’ resolve and commitment to getting better and staying well. I’ve had the opportunity to work with patients who achieved remarkable outcomes given their unique challenges and despite many roadblocks in their respective lives. I’m always learning, the sky really is the limit when it comes to learning about mental health, psychiatry and human behavior.
What’s your favorite thing about San Francisco?
Despite the changes we’ve seen this decade, I believe that this is still the land of quirky misfits, freaks and free thinkers who remain committed to social justice.
What’s your favorite place you’ve ever been?
- Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia
- Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
- Alaki Swamps Trail, Kauai, Hawaii
Name 5 things on your bucket list.
- Front row at a Stevie Nicks concert
- Front row at a Mary J. Blige concert
- Hike New Zealand
- Sailing trip around the Greek Islands
- Cycling trip through the French Alps
Where did you grow up?
South Windsor, Connecticut (kid)
Charlotte, North Carolina (teenager)
What are your favorite quotes?
“You get a car, you get a car, you get a car …” Oprah Winfrey, 2004
“The taste for quotations (and for the juxtaposition of incongruous quotations) is a Surrealist taste.” Susan Sontag, 1977
In your free time, what are you most likely doing?
Hiking, spending time with friends, exercising with friends, movies, concerts, record shopping, not cooking, reading
What are 5 albums you’d want with you if you were stuck on a deserted island?
- Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumors”
- Public Enemy’s “Fear of a Black Planet”
- Massive Attack’s “Blue Lines”
- Beth Ditto’s “Fake Sugar” (a recent fav, but I can’t stop listening to it)
- Cesaria Evora “Cafe Atlantico”
Where was your last vacation?
What cause(s) are you most passionate about?
Income inequality, LGBT issues, civil liberties, encouraging others to participate in the creation of a world where mothers can seek asylum in our country and not have their kids taken
What was your career before becoming a mental health practitioner?
I worked for over a decade in urban education reform, first as a teacher, then administrator for a national nonprofit, and then education program officer for a California foundation.
What is your favorite sports team?
- The Canadian Curling team
- The Panthers (Friday Night Lights, coached by Erik Taylor, 2006-2011)
What is your favorite food?
What is your favorite book?
- “Another Country” by James Baldwin (some critics say it’s Baldwin’s story when he returns from France. Warning: it’s tragic, but a deep portrayal of race, love and even mental illness in the late 1960’s)
- “In the Heart of the Country,” J.M. Coetzee (Think Doestoevsky’s “Notes from the Underground” but on steroids)
- “Dancer of the Dance” (One slice of NYC gay life in the late 1970’s on the eve of patient 0)
What is your favorite movie?
Woody Allen’s “Manhattan,” starring Diane Keaton. This has been my favorite movie since high school, before we knew about Mr. Allen. Incidentally, I met Ms. Keaton at a restaurant in Palm Springs last year. After she initiated conversation, I couldn’t resist, quoting her famous line from the movie: “I’m from Philadelphia, I mean we believe in God.” She smiled with incredulity and kind of laughed it off, “I don’t remember that!” and then turned around and started flirting with my friend.
What was your favorite toy as a child?
Operation (that weird battery-powered surgery game), disassembling electronic devices, recording my family’s outgoing answering machine message and listing the possible reasons why we couldn’t/wouldn’t come to the phone
When are you at your most creative?
Swimming laps in a saline pool and/or exercising outside alongside an ocean.
What motivates you?
Continuous learning, helping people who never learned how to be good to themselves, strict deadlines
Describe one of your first few jobs.
My second job after college was working for the advocacy organization, the Human Rights Campaign. I was part of a team that traveled to LGBT Pride events to manage volunteers, merchandise sales and new member sign ups. Yes, I was one of those annoying guys with a clipboard bothering you when you were trying to have fun. It was a blast, though, and a fun way to see the country. Before that I worked at Collegetown Bagels in Ithaca, NY and before that my spot was Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream in Charlotte, NC.
What’s one fun thing you wish you could do more of?
Hiking with good friends while eating really good food.
What made you want to become a mental health practitioner?
After years of not teaching, I wanted to be a practitioner of something and based on my close family and life experiences, I thought that I could make a meaningful contribution in helping folks treat their mental health problems and improve their overall wellness.