Laura Neuman

Where you start isn’t where you have to finish…

My journey to getting an MBA without finishing high school or college, building a successful technology company, holding public office, and getting results in the criminal justice system after decades of injustice, is unlikely if you started where I did.

I was born to parents in inner city Baltimore who were high school drop-outs with criminal records, my father had a prescription drug addiction and was often out of work. My mother was in business with a corrupt politician with ties to the mafia and, yes, the FBI knocked on our front door when I was a kid.

My first bedroom was a hallway, and my bed was a mattress on the floor which I shared with my developmentally-disabled sister, Leslie. I attended six different schools and, on one Christmas when I was a child, I was beaten so badly that I bled all over my clothes.

At eighteen, I left home with all my belongings in a plastic trash bag, and lived out of my car while I saved my waitressing money for the down payment on an apartment.

Two weeks after moving in, I was raped at gunpoint in my home. No one believed me. Not the police. Not even my own mother. Over the next 12 years, I lived in 19 different places and had 11 different jobs. I couldn’t afford an education because I had to choose between gas, rent and food on a daily basis.

At twenty-one, my first job in business was as a customer service rep answering phone calls. I wanted a career in business and I applied to all the big companies, but they all turned me down because I didn’t have a college degree.

I never gave up.

I earned an MBA without finishing high school or college, and went back to all those large companies to apply again. They turned me down so I decided to bet on myself and become an entrepreneur.

I cashed in my savings and 401k, paid my bills on a credit card, and took equity instead of a salary. I turned around an insolvent start-up and the company was later sold for $230 million.

I was sworn into public office and ran one of the largest counties in Maryland, where I managed a $1.3 billion budget, improved the county bond rating, and restored governance to an office plagued by scandal, as my predecessor went to jail.

But all the success in the world didn’t matter if I couldn’t do the most important thing: Get my rape case investigated. It took years but I eventually found a detective to investigate my case.

After 19 years, I was able to get my rape case investigated. It was solved in 3 days.

My advocacy led to connecting the perpetrator, while he was up for parole, to six more cases. He turned out to be the worst serial offender in Maryland history and has now been tied to twenty five cases and has confessed to murder.