Sarah Leen was appointed director of photography at National Geographic magazine in May 2013, becoming the first woman to hold that job in the National Geographic Society’s 125-year history. For 27 years prior, the St. Louis-area native worked as a freelance photographer for National Geographic magazine, and in 2004, she joined the magazine's staff as a senior photo editor.
In 1979, as a student at Mizzou, Leen received the College Photographer of the Year award.
She went on to work as a staff photographer for the Topeka (Kansas) Capital-Journal and the Philadelphia Inquirer. A book of her work, American Back Roads, was published by National Geographic in 2000.