Yolanda Leacraft was born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, on May 2, 1931. She attended East Winston School until the age of 14, and then enrolled in the Immanuel Lutheran School in Greensboro, where she graduated from high school. Leacraft attended Winston-Salem Teacher’s College (now Winston-Salem State University) for three years and then worked at North Carolina Mutual and Western Electric. During her time at Western Electric she faced continual racial discrimination and harassment, including a supervisor’s threat to have her fired if she did not resign. Leacraft later accepted a position at the Center for Creative Leadership, where she worked for six years. She left the Center to attend Guilford College full-time, and graduated with a bachelors degree in women’s studies in 1980.
Leacraft has held various positions on local and national boards, including the Greensboro Housing Authority, the Greensboro Commission on the Status of Women, and the National Association of Commissions for Women. She received Guilford College’s Alumni Excellence Award in 1987, and North Carolina’s Long Leaf Pine award in 1996. Leacraft helped found the Summit House of the Piedmont, which opened in Greensboro in 1987. She accepted a Points of Light Award on behalf of its program in 1996.