Born in East Los Angeles, Leilani Clark spent her early childhood on Oahu and Kauai. She attended elementary and high school in Los Angeles, and college in San Diego, before settling in Northern California.

Leilani was previously published at Mother Jones, The Guardian, The Press Democrat, North Bay Bohemian, Civil Eats, KQED, Sonoma Magazine, Time Magazine.com, and Edible Marin & Wine Country. Her essays have appeared at The Rumpus, Fw:Riction Review, and in the anthologies All of Me: Stories of Love, Anger, and the Female Body and Sunshine/Noir: Writing from Tijuana and San Diego. She has been the editor of Made Local Magazine since 2016.

She was a 2014 California Endowment Health Reporting Fellow. She has a BA in English Literature from University of California San Diego and an MFA in Writing from the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco.  She is the recipient of a 2019 Discovered Award for Emerging Literary Artists from Creative Sonoma.