The List: Lauren Thomas

CEO of Hopelink

For Lauren Thomas, deciding to work in the nonprofit sector was a no-brainer. “I have a strong faith,” she said, “and I was trained in business as a CPA. Working in the nonprofit sector combined my desire for purpose-driven work, a need to serve, and my skills as a business leader.”

After working in the nonprofit sector — including eight years as the COO of Wellspring Family Services in Seattle — Thomas went back to school to earn specialized certificates in nonprofit leadership and management from both the University of Washington and Harvard Business School. At that time, she also served on the advisory boards of the Eastside Human Services Forum, the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities, and the Washington State Community Action Partnership.

In 2014, she was appointed CEO of Hopelink, a large Eastside nonprofit that provides a network of critical social services, including housing, transportation, family development, financial assistance, employment programs, adult education, financial literacy training, and operating five food banks.

“I love hearing the stories that some of our clients and former clients share with us about their personal journeys toward stability and out of poverty.” Now, more about what she loves.

favorite places

To Relax Bike riding on the Sammamish River Trail

For Breakfast Fruit smoothie on my back porch

To Grab a Coffee River Trail Roasters, Redmond

For Dinner Amaro Bistro, Bothell

To Be Inspired Hiking in the North Cascades

Inspiration Board

What Are You Reading? Louise Penny mystery 

What Are You Listening To? Hamilton

Who Would Play You in a Movie? Lucy Liu (Charlie’s Angels) or Michelle Yeoh (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon)

Mantra You Live By “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” — Margaret Mead

Last Thing You Googled Roadmap to Pandemic Resilience

Item You Can’t Live Without Glassybaby candle holder

Best Advice You’ve Received Be yourself.

Q&A

How has Hopelink responded to the pandemic? Do you have special programs or initiatives in the works?

We formed our COVID-19 Response Team on March 1 and immediately started adapting services, including changing our food bank distribution to a no-contact “take-out” model, distributing financial assistance through phone appointments, implementing our own safety and hygiene procedures, and immediately increasing telecommuting. The need for our food and financial assistance services immediately skyrocketed eight-fold. We are limited only by the amount of funds we have available.

Along the same lines, how have recent events changed the organization’s approach to providing aid, if at all?

COVID-19 has forced us to rethink what is possible. We have reprioritized our strategic initiatives to focus on the next phase of a “Healthier Hopelink” that supports the current needs of our staff, the increased need of our clients, and community; we’re creating a new model that will quickly adapt to changes over the next year, and that will keep our organization strong into the future.

We’re all under a lot of stress right now, living in this climate of global uncertainty. What has brought you joy recently?

Daily walks and talks in the neighborhood with my adult son, packing food into food boxes for our neighbors, being home for dinner every night.

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