In honoring Women’s History Month, we are thrilled to share the story of one of our very own leaders, Laura Washburn. She has been with Share Our Strength - the organization that runs the No Kid Hungry campaign - for almost twelve years, and currently sits as the managing director of strategic communications. In her role, she oversees the organization's strategy to highlight its work through public affairs and consumer media.
We sat down with Laura to discuss her history of volunteering, advocacy and flexibility which has led her to the position she is in today.
“I think a big reason why I’ve been able to be successful at Share Our Strength is because when I was growing up we moved around a lot, which served me really well. It built a lot of resiliency that has paid off in adulthood and my career,” she shared.
Washburn knew after college that she wanted to do work that used her communications and language skills, but the journey there was paved with jobs that included working on Capitol Hill, lobbying and legislative work.
Volunteering was something that Washburn always made sure was a constant in her life, working with local D.C. nonprofits and organizations to help make a change. After a volunteering experience with No Kid Hungry’s ‘Taste of the Nation’ event, She realized that this is what she was meant to be doing;
“I sort of had an epiphany where I was like, what if I flip the script here? What if I make this volunteering type work my full-time job?,” she said.
Talking about being a leader within Share Our Strength and a mother, she said, “It’s impossible to balance. I think changing your expectation of what you can do and accomplish plays a big part in your success.”
Washburn recalled a female mentor of hers once saying, “‘you’re going to have seventeen balls in the air and one of them is going to drop, and you just need to make sure that the one that drops isn’t made of glass.’”
That mindset of doing fewer things better and being more focused has helped her become the leader she is today; and she attributes the strong female mentors she had along the way to help her feel supported by her community, especially the understanding that we as employees are humans first.
Being a woman in today’s society can be challenging, and something a lot of women go through is the balancing act of always being needed and a central point for so many others.
Even though there are multiple circumstances that can put women and their children at risk of experiencing hunger, such as the wage gap between men and women and lack of resources to be able to feed your kids, women can be at the forefront of the fight against childhood hunger.
“Putting mothers and women at the center of the solution makes sense," explained Washburn. “Women and mothers are creative and good at problem solving. We have developed skills from wearing so many hats that could be really powerful for us to learn from and leverage in our work of ending childhood hunger.”
For Washburn, Women’s History Month represents all of the struggles and challenges that women before us dealt with, paving the way for us to make a difference today.
“I have a lot of gratitude for the women who came before us and paved the path – it’s important we don’t forget what they fought for,” she said.