For Duty and Family: Faith Leibman’s Vetrepreneur Story
By Aly Kuiken
Entering the military is a big decision. While there is no singular reason that people may join the service, many veterans will say they joined because of an overwhelming sense of duty they felt, for family ties to the military, or for the necessity of joining, to defend their country in times of need. For Dr. Faith Leibman, a U.S. Navy and U.S. Army veteran, all of these factors influenced her decision.
Born and raised in Narberth, PA, Faith takes after her father Neil Leibman, a WWII Army veteran and lawyer, who obtained several graduate degrees from Philadelphia universities including Drexel, Kaplan, and Temple.
“I became a lawyer because my father was a lawyer,” remarked Faith. “I adored my father—I wanted to be just like him.”
Faith’s father also inspired her in business: the name of Faith’s company, “Foxhole,” stems from her father’s experiences in World War II. Neil Leibman was severely injured by an enemy mortar while trapped in a foxhole in Stolburg, Germany.
“He was the sole survivor of his infantry platoon, and I wanted to honor him by naming my business after that experience,” said Faith.
Dr. Leibman finished her degree early from Delaware Law School (now Widener University), and began her career as a lawyer in Forensic Psychology working in prisons in the late 1980’s. Eventually, she decided to join the Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps, a legal branch of the U.S. Navy.
“I was a second generation American,” she explained. “This country gave my grandparents a home and I wanted to pay that back, so I went into the Navy.”
During her time in the Navy, Faith worked on her Master’s degree in Forensic Psychology from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, part of the City University of New York (CUNY). She then decided to pursue further education in the same field, beginning work on her PhD in Criminal Justice and Forensic Psychology in 1987. As a student, lawyer, and active member of the military, Faith eventually found herself looking for ways to fund her education, as her role within the JAG Corps was an unpaid position. She turned to the Army Reserves, where she served on a unit that was eventually required to serve overseas in Operation Desert Storm from 1990-1991.
“My unit was called up, but since I was a late addition, I was not. I decided to go with them, so I called my recruiter down in Washington, D.C. They gave me 24 hours to pack and get ready to leave,” recalled Faith.
After her service in the Army, Faith returned to the United States, where she completed her PhD in Clinical Sexology, and continued working on her PhD in Criminal Justice and Forensic Psychology, which she completed in 2009. It was also during this time the idea for Faith’s latest invention was born.
“I had been to the VA’s women’s health center a few times and noticed that the design of urine collection cups was not adapted to women, so I looked for a solution to the problem and came up with this funnel-shaped device. The women at the VA have absolutely influenced my direction when making this product.”
The device she created is ORCHID, a patent-pending feminine accessory for urine specimen cups with a petal-like funnel shape at the top. The product was recently approved for its design patent, and Foxhole hopes to begin production once the final design and utility patent are approved.
Faith was in the St. Joe’s Veterans’ Program when she first heard about Bunker Labs Philadelphia.
“I realized that, despite all my education, I didn’t have a lot of knowledge about business and business principles,” she said. “I needed to learn how to do that, so I contacted Bunker Labs and was delighted when I was accepted into the Launch Lab Cohort.”
As a member of the Launch Lab program, Faith participated in weekly business development classes with 12 other cohort members who are also entrepreneurs (more about the program here).
“One of the best things about the course was that there were different stages of veterans – we had a Vietnam Veteran, I was in Desert Storm, there were people from a few different generations. It was great,” mentioned Faith.
In addition to her work with Foxhole, Faith currently volunteers with 94-year-old WWII veteran Dick Rigler, a member of the 385th Engineering Group assigned to the 104th Infantry Division in the Army, the same division as Faith’s father. She helps him obtain healthcare benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Faith will be a featured panelist at June Bunker Brews: Innovation in Health on June 13th at WeWork 1601 Market. To hear her share her story and more information about her business, register for the event here.