Before pursuing a Ph.D. in sociology, Leon worked with Alaska Native youth and wrote for the Anchorage Daily News, where he received press club awards for stories on the king crab fishery in the Aleutian Islands and tundra firefighting above the Arctic Circle. In 1983 Leon enrolled in the sociology Ph.D. program at the University of Texas—Austin, where he conducted research on homelessness with his mentor, David Snow. Their book, Down on Their Luck, received multiple scholarly awards and was translated into Portuguese for publication in Brazil. For over a decade, Leon served as department chair for academic programs at Ohio University and Utah State University while co-authoring a new edition of the qualitative methods classic, Analyzing Social Settings (4th ed.) and writing a textbook on social deviance. Since “retiring” from full-time teaching in 2019, Leon has continued to teach online and publish on topics related to deviance, social activism, and autoethnographic research methods. He lives in Yellow Springs, Ohio, with his wife Kate and their border collie, Velcro.