Laurel Lynch – CEO of HOPE Family Services is the sixth in our series of 25 Wonder Women brought to you by the Bradenton Herald. Laurel Lynch is an award-winning and highly skilled advocate for battered women and their children with nearly 30 years of experience. In October of 1985, after a brief marriage to an abusive husband, Laurel volunteered for a domestic violence center answering the hotline and going out at night to meet victims of domestic violence and transport them to safety.

A year later she became a staff member and what started as a volunteer opportunity became her new career path. Laurel catapulted herself back in school, recognizing that passion alone was not going to be enough for her to do the work that she was being called to do. Today, Laurel (current Chief Executive Officer for HOPE Family Services) holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and a Master’s in Business Administration.

When asked what she’s the most proud of, it’s not turning HOPE around from a domestic violence center on the brink of bankruptcy or the prestigious Sunshine Lady Award given to her by Doris Buffett – although pleased with both of those accomplishments. But an invitation she received recently to a young man’s college graduation. The invitation was from his mother whom she helped 20+ years ago when her son was only 18 months old. The note inside said, “Without your help, I would have been dead and my son would have been motherless. Thanks to you, we escaped and are happy and now my son, my heart, is the first person in our family to graduate from college!”        

When asked why she does this work, Laurel simply said… ”need I say more?”