Thank You For Being Such A Vital Part Of Our Team, Amy Lawler! We Look Forward To Sharing More About You So Others Can Get To Know You Better!
Tell us a bit about your backstory and what lead you down your current life path.
My journey to my current life path is deeply rooted in my personal experiences and the realization that I wanted to leave a meaningful legacy. After graduating from North Central College with a dual major in Psychology and Religious Studies and a minor in Gender and Women’s Studies, I pursued a healthcare quality and compliance management career. For nearly a decade, I dedicated long hours to building my resume, earning promotions, and climbing the corporate ladder. I also completed a Master’s Degree in Education and a Master’s in Business Administration. Although I was proud of my professional achievements, I couldn’t ignore a growing sense of emptiness in my work life.
During this time, my husband asked, “Are you living for your resume or your eulogy?” This question served as a wake-up call, prompting me to reflect on the impact I wanted to have on the world and my family’s life. I realized that my children and family didn’t care about my job title or salary; what truly mattered was the quality time and presence I could offer them. I didn’t want my legacy to be defined solely by my career achievements.
My background and upbringing played a significant role in shaping this perspective. I was raised by a young, single mother who exemplified resilience and determination despite facing numerous challenges. She became a coal miner at 21, pursued higher education, and encouraged me to follow a similar path of achievement. Her story served as an inspiring underdog narrative, and it continues to be written to this day.
Motivated by my personal experiences and a strong desire to create a legacy I could be proud of, I made a life-altering decision. I resigned from my corporate job and embarked on a journey to found a grassroots charity aimed at assisting local families in need through crowd-sourcing on social media. Seven years later, here I am! That charity remains a big part of my life, leading to many other amazing opportunities to advocate for and provide resources to the underserved.
What is one thing you are proud of achieving in your life?
I take pride in my educational achievements because they represent my persistence, determination, and grit. My academic path has been far from conventional, and my accomplishments are a testament to what a person can achieve if they have somebody in their corner advocating for them. That person, for me, is my husband.
I attended 17 different schools, resulting in a highly patchy, disjointed, and sometimes nonexistent education. The instability in school was a major obstacle. I thought I would never have the opportunity to pursue higher education. My degrees serve as a reminder that where you start in life doesn’t have to determine where you end up. Anyone can defy expectations and achieve their dreams with hard work, support, and unwavering commitment. This is a message I hold close to my heart, and it continues to inspire my work and advocacy today.
What keeps you motivated? What maintains your passion for and commitment to the work you are doing?
Since founding 3:11 Project, I have devoted a significant portion of my time and energy to advocating for those in need. It has become my life’s work and purpose. Although I created the small charity, it has become a community movement that is no longer “mine.” It provides a non-judgmental, safe space for people to share their stories, seek assistance, and leave with their dignity intact. Through this work, I have realized that my calling is to be an advocate for others, to stand alongside those facing adversity and empower them to overcome challenges. I love that I can also do that at E.R.E., and I love that I can see my influence on my children through their actions and the way they treat others.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
My husband is the person I am profoundly grateful for helping me get to where I am today. He has been an unwavering source of support, encouragement, and belief in my potential. One particular story that illustrates his impact on my journey is when I was at a crossroads in my career. I was wrestling with the decision to leave my stable corporate job to pursue my passion for creating positive change through nonprofit work. With his unwavering support and belief in my potential, I summoned the courage to resign from my corporate job and embark on a journey that has led to meaningful contributions in the nonprofit sector. His belief in me has driven my pursuit of a more purposeful and impactful path, and I am eternally grateful for his unwavering encouragement and support.
What do you like to do in your free time?
In my free time, I prioritize spending quality moments with my wonderful family, which includes my 9-year-old son, my 6-year-old daughter, and my loving husband. Family is at the heart of my life, and I cherish the opportunities to create lasting memories together. We love to explore new things, whether it’s visiting museums, taking mini road trips, going hiking, or even exploring new cuisines at local restaurants. Playing games is a favorite pastime in our household, from board games to Mario Kart marathons to impromptu family sports matches in the backyard. Having fun together, whether through spontaneous dance parties or movie nights, brings me so much happiness. My family is my everything, and I cherish every moment we spend together.
Tell about an amazing trip you took. Where did you go and what did you enjoy most?
My favorite trip was to Rome because it perfectly blended history, culture, and enchanting beauty. Walking through the ancient streets of Rome, I was awestruck by the sheer magnitude of historical landmarks that surrounded me. The Colosseum, the Roman Forum, and the Pantheon transported me back in time. Each step I took felt like a journey through centuries of human achievement. The city’s rich culture was extraordinary to experience. From savoring mouthwatering Italian cuisine at quaint, family-owned restaurants to sipping espresso in charming cafes while watching the world go by, Rome’s vibrant culture and warm hospitality left an indelible mark on me.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? What is it and why did it resonate with you?
“The Servant as Leader” by Robert Greenleaf has deeply resonated with me due to its transformative shift from traditional leadership paradigms to the concept of servant leadership, emphasizing empathy, community service, humility, ethical leadership, and a long-term perspective. Greenleaf’s philosophy aligns with my core values, emphasizing the importance of putting the well-being and growth of others at the forefront of leadership and advocating for a compassionate, ethical, and community-oriented approach that seeks to serve and empower those being led while fostering a legacy of positive impact.
Please share your favorite Life Lesson quote. How is it relevant to your life?
“Focus on the good” is my favorite life lesson quote because it encapsulates the power of maintaining a positive mindset, resilience, and gratitude in the face of life’s challenges. It reminds me to seek out the silver linings, promoting happiness and well-being. It’s empowering because I can shape my outlook and experiences and take responsibility for my actions. It also creates a beautiful ripple effect, contributing to a more optimistic world.
Why did you choose to be a staff member of Educate. Radiate. Elevate.?
My experiences have shed light on a common barrier for many individuals seeking assistance: the lack of a solid educational foundation. An opportunity arose for me to help address this issue when I saw a job posting for Educate. Radiate. Elevate. I was not actively looking for a job, but I strongly believe that if you identify a problem, you should be willing to join the solution! That is why I chose to re-enter the workforce and devote my time to advocating for E.R.E.’s tutoring program, recognizing the critical role education plays in breaking the cycle of poverty and changing the trajectory of young people’s lives. I’m passionate about E.R.E.’s mission and its positive impact on our communities.
What about the Educate. Radiate. Elevate.’s Purpose, Mission, and Core Values speaks most to you and why?
Among E.R.E.’s core values, the emphasis on Empathy resonates with me the most. Empathy lies at the heart of driving positive change in the lives of students.
Empathy is the foundation for building deeper connections and gaining insight into what motivates a student’s behavior. It enables educators and advocates to approach each student with compassion and understanding, recognizing that every individual’s journey is unique. By embracing empathy, we can better support and guide students toward success.
Empathy also extends beyond the classroom and into the broader community. It fosters an environment of inclusion and support where everyone feels valued and understood. Empathizing with others can bridge gaps, break down barriers, and create a more equitable and compassionate society. While all of E.R.E.’s values are vital and interconnected, empathy serves as the cornerstone.