Growing up in East Baltimore
Laura was born and raised in East Baltimore, starting out in Baltimore City Public Schools. Both of her parents were high school dropouts. Her father struggled with addiction, and both her parents had arrest records. During one of her mother’s fits of rage, Laura was given a concussion on Christmas Day when she was 11 years old. It was at that moment Laura decided she would leave as soon as she was able. In the meantime, Laura often took the bus to the library to escape, where she learned about a world beyond her own. By high school, she thought education would be her path to a new life and begged her parents to send her to a school with a college-preparation track. But the bus didn’t run that far, and after only one year, she was forced to drop out of high school.
It took a few more years, and several more tries to get back on her feet, but Laura never gave up. Over 12 years she lived in 19 different places and had 11 different jobs. She tried to attend college, but couldn’t afford tuition. Laura eventually built her own path to success, starting when she scanned the help wanted ads and came across a part-time job as a customer service rep for T. Rowe Price.
Just after turning eighteen, Laura escaped her abusive home with all of her belongings in a trash bag and lived out of her car while she saved her waitressing money for the down payment on an apartment. Two weeks after moving in, an intruder raped her at gunpoint. No one believed her. Not the police. Not even her own mother. Not only did the police not investigate her case, they walked her friends and family through how they believed she staged the entire thing, including pulling a red Keds sneaker out of her closet to match it up to the shoe print under the bedroom window. She was sent a bill for the rape examination and had to cancel her follow-up appointment because she did not have health insurance. For almost nineteen years, she carried the pink hospital discharge slip with her as the only proof that October 13, 1983 really happened.
Laura wanted a career in business but was turned down for opportunities over and over because she did not have a college degree. Hard work eventually turned a part-time job at T. Rowe Price into a full-time position that gave her health benefits for the first time in her life. Laura refused to give up and moved up through smaller companies where credentials weren’t as important as what you contributed. While working at a direct mail firm, Laura conducted a meeting for a potential client, Loyola University in Maryland, and they suggested she apply to their MBA program. After a rigorous evaluation process, Laura was accepted to the program and earned an MBA from Loyola – without finishing high school or college. She was then invited to the prestigious Executive Program at Stanford Business School.
When big companies wouldn’t hire her, Laura became an entrepreneur and hired her own team. She is best known for turning around start-up Matrics, and the company was sold for $230 million. Laura has since served as an executive and advisor for numerous companies.
Fighting for Justice
After a successful career in business, Laura turned her attention to something much more personal. After almost 19 years of calling police for updates on her rape case, she was determined there would be an investigation.
In 2002, Laura was calling the police daily when she finally got through to a detective who took the time to listen to her story and investigate her case. The evidence from her rape kit was lost, but there was a set of fingerprints that had never been put into the CODIS system. After 19 years, her case was solved in three days.
Laura knows what it’s like to feel invisible and disenfranchised in a criminal justice system that too often ignores and minimizes victims. She began advocating for the testing of rape kits and speaking publically about her assault to minimize the shame that is often forced onto the victim. Her work led to finding out her attacker was the worst rapist in Maryland history.
In 2007, a Baltimore City detective was shown a video of Laura’s 48 Hours interview during training. He was struck by how similar Laura’s attacker looked to the sketch of an assailant in a string of rape cold cases his wife was investigating in Baltimore County. Police realized her attacker’s DNA was never loaded into the state database. DNA evidence linked him to a string of rapes and a murder, and Laura sat with several of his other victims while they got their day in court.
Serving Her Community
Laura went into public service to create opportunities for others. She was CEO of the Howard County Economic Development Authority, where she worked to remove barriers for companies trying to start up, and keep jobs at existing companies like Tessemae in Maryland. She served as county executive of Anne Arundel County, managing a $1.3 billion budget and restoring good governance to an office plagued by scandal. She saved taxpayer money by modernizing technology and improving the county bond credit rating, saving $8 million in the first bond issuance, and sped first responder response times.
Laura has served on the Maryland Economic Development Commission; the Board of Directors for the Baltimore Metropolitan Council; and the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute at the University of Maryland. She has actively supported her community, including on the boards of the Baltimore Child Abuse Center and the Board of Visitors for University of Maryland’s R. Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center. Laura was named an Influential Marylander, one of Maryland’s Top 100 Women, won the Mary Pickersgill Award for Women’s Leadership in Business, and was named a trailblazer by the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs.
She’s the proud mother of two children, Alex and Avery.
Becoming a Democrat
Growing up, Laura’s mother worked for a corrupt Baltimore politician who was later indicted on drug and racketeering charges. Laura changed her political party to Republican as she turned her back on everything in her family’s past, including her parents’ ties to the Democratic Party. But, over time, Laura realized that when it came to her personal beliefs, she had always aligned with Democrats — from her strong belief in a women’s right to choose to her commitment to public schools, Laura’s past has taught her that Marylanders have limitless potential if given the opportunity.
She believes we need to make childcare more affordable, make critical investments in education, expand access to affordable healthcare, reform a criminal justice system that ignores too many, and be vigilant in protecting the right to vote. Laura has served in both Democratic and Republican administrations, and her focus is always on how to get the job done. She believes government shouldn’t make promises it can’t deliver and should responsibly manage the budget, but also believes government should focus on expanding opportunities.
Empowering Marylanders to Succeed
Laura is running for governor because she believes every Marylander should have access to opportunity, regardless of where their story starts. Laura knows what it’s like when someone else tries to write your story for you. People repeatedly questioned her assault, and refused to believe in her potential. She believes that if we invest in growing Maryland’s economy, expand access to job training and education, and improve education, the possibilities are limitless.