In 2013 Sarah Leen became the first female Director of Photography at National Geographic Partners. In late 2019 she founded the Visual Thinking Collective, a community for independent women photo editors, creative directors, teachers and curators dedicated to visual storytelling.
For nearly 20 years she worked as a freelance photographer for the National Geographic magazine until 2004 when she joined the staff as a Senior Photo Editor. As a photographer Leen published sixteen stories and produced six covers for the National Geographic magazine.
In 1979 Leen was the first woman to receive the College Photographer of the Year award while a student at the University of Missouri School of Journalism in Columbia, Missouri. The award was an internship at the Nat Geo magazine where she produced her first Nat Geo story, “Return to Uganda.”
Leen currently works with individual photographers and agencies editing long term projects and books including the America, Again project by the VII Photo, the 2020 FotoEvidence and World Press Photo Book Award winner HABIBI by Antonio Faccilongo and Anders Wo by Petra Barth.