Leah (Sturtz) Harhay passed away on Tuesday, June 17th, at her home in Lafayette, California, surrounded by the love and support of family and friends. Her valiant two-year struggle with ALS peacefully ended - only 7 months after her 40th birthday.
Leah’s family moved from Berkeley to Lafayette in 1979, where she attended Springhill Elementary, Stanley Intermediate, and was graduated from Acalanes High School in 1991. Her passion for performing followed her from school to school, both in drama and music. A classically trained and talented flutist, Leah’s musical talent was enjoyed by many.
A member of Alpha Phi sorority, Leah was graduated with honors from the Haas School of Business with a B.S. in International Business and Finance in 1995, and then joined Progressive Asset Management, where she established and directed a successful Tides Foundation grant to divest California’s public employees’ pension funds from tobacco investments.
At the UC Berkeley School of Law, Leah worked as a Research Assistant for Professor David D. Caron, writing analyses of the application of international law and assisting his work on the United Nations Compensation Commission. As a summer associate for Latham & Watkins, Leah quickly became known for her quality work as a legal secretariat, damages analyst, and legal writer. Ever the top-notch student, Leah somehow made time to travel to exotic places with her future husband, Mike.
In the summer of 1997, Mike and Leah fell in love and moved in together. They knew they shared the same values, but it was the importance of family in their lives that ultimately drew them together. In September of 2002, Mike and Leah were married, and their 3 little girls followed at two-year intervals: 2004, 2006, and 2008; both parents wanted their children to be close friends throughout life.
Following her graduation from UC Berkeley Law in 2002, Leah joined the law firm of Latham and Watkins, and after the birth of her first daughter, continued to work in the field of international arbitration with Professor David D. Caron. In 2008, Leah became Managing Editor of the World Arbitration and Mediation Review, where she was responsible for building WAMR’s reputation as a premier international law journal.
In 2011, Leah joined the law firm of Jones Day, where she helped design and implement the firm’s Global Disputes Practice Group, and successfully developed strategies to effectively meet the firm’s response to the demands of an increasingly complex and competitive global market.
Leah lived her life with passion, beauty, and courage, lighting up the room with her smile and the world with her efforts. Her irreverent and witty sense of humor stopped us in our tracks. A devoted environmentalist and talented problem-solver, Leah graciously gave of her skills to community groups, friends and family. More than anything, she loved being a wife and a mother, and cherished every moment with her beloved family.
Leah is survived by her adoring husband Mike, her three precious daughters, Annalise, 10; Karina Grace, 8, and Juliana, almost 6. Her mother, Merry Sturtz; sister, Rebeccah Sturtz; brother, Gary Lichtenstein, and countless family and friends will miss her bright smile and big heart. She will be remembered at a Celebration of Life to be held Sunday, July 13th at 3:30pm, at the Mount Diablo Unitarian Universalist Church, 55 Eckley Lane, Walnut Creek, CA. 94549. Family and friends are invited to gather outside the Church immediately following the service to enjoy Leah's favorite drink, an Arnold Palmer. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations in Leah’s memory to The Children of Leah D. Harhay Educational Fund at leahdharhay.com, Planned Parenthood, or the ALS Association.