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EDITOR'S NOTE: “Columbus Champion” is an initiative to recognize and tell the stories of local individuals who have gone above and beyond to make a positive impact on the Columbus community.

If you know someone in the Columbus community who has gone above and beyond to make a positive impact, nominate them as a Columbus Champion!

Written by: Aaron Tomich, ColumbusCrewSC.com
Published: Nov. 3, 2020

Miranda "Randi" Leppla has always found that her identity and shared communities are foundations of her life that are deeply rooted in her passions.

That passion can be found in her family and the impact her parents had on her and her siblings in a multitude of ways. Another passion is in a sport she grew up playing; a sport she learned to love even more as it became a core element of who she is today.

Additionally, a passion that acts as a root in Randi’s life has led to her career pursuit inspired by her family – one that is grand and impactful at the very literal ground-level.

“I remember my mom starting a recycling program when I was very young and my brother being part of a youth climate summit when I was too young to participate,” said Randi, who is currently the Vice President of Energy Policy and Lead Energy Counsel for the Ohio Environmental Council. “So I just remember a lot of different things from growing up within my own family focusing on being good stewards of the planet.”

Randi’s love of the outdoors that surrounded her hometown, Germantown, Ohio, and her father’s trial lawyer position both had an impact on her life’s pursuit. That pursuit led her to the University of Chicago where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Law, Letters & Society before moving to Central Ohio and earning a Juris Doctor degree from The Ohio State University Michael E. Moritz College of Law.

Following graduation from law school, Randi worked in private practice in the Columbus area for six years before joining the Ohio Environmental Council (OEC) where she now focuses entirely on the efforts for clean energy.

“I do everything from working on legislation to trying cases at the Public Utilities Commission to push for more clean energy and energy waste reduction here in Ohio,” said Randi. “The OEC has been around for over 50 years and focusses on air, land and water and trying to make Ohio the best place it can be for everyone that calls Ohio home.”

Fighting for what she believes in is something of instinct for Randi. When her passions – which are her life’s roots – are activated, nothing stops her from doing the most to participate and stump for change. Even when it comes to a sports team.

Randi’s love of the sport of soccer started at an early age playing in youth leagues and on school teams as a kid. Soccer became such a large part of her life that she became good enough to play collegiately. From the small Ohio town to the big Windy City, she went to play as a defensive midfielder for the University of Chicago Maroons – a perennially accomplished NCAA Division III program.

From Chicago, she moved to Columbus, a city she would become surprisingly fond of and proud to call home.

“I fell in love with the city,” said Randi.

Attending Crew SC games on a regular basis – even to the extent of becoming a season ticket member – created a new and loving community for Randi that has grown into something deeper than words can describe.

Randi met a core group of friends from tailgates outside of MAPFRE Stadium and standing atop the Nordecke supporters' section on a perfect summer’s evening.

“These are people that are friends of mine because I met them in a parking lot drinking beer,” said Randi. “But they’re now a part of my community in Columbus, and that’s why people love sports, right?”

When the time came for Columbus to rise up and support its team, Randi knew she would step up and help. Her inner passion, a root deep inside of her, called for change because without the reason for her beloved Crew community, she feared it would be no more.

“I was impressed with the way the whole Crew community came together and were like, ‘This is what they’re saying is going to happen, but we’re not going to let that happen,’” said Randi. “This is our team.”

Randi knew at a young age that she had things in her life that were worth fighting for. Her passions became roots and foundations that shaped the way she acted and molded her into who she is today. Those things – be it the physical environment or a professional soccer team – also became her life’s purpose and additionally the group and city that she calls her home, for which she is certainly grateful.

“I knew it [Crew SC] was important to me. I knew that with my friends – we had this really amazing group of friends. It’s funny because people are like, ‘Oh, it’s just a sports team’ and that’s true,” said Randi. “But, that was part of my community, and that’s part of my life here in Columbus.”

If you know someone in the Columbus community who has gone above and beyond to make a positive impact, nominate them as a Columbus Champion!