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The Story of Laura Powers: The Power of Opportunity, Optimism, and Determination

Laura Powers, interviewed by Girl Power Talk.

1. What is the first thing you wish to accomplish and what are you looking forward to once things go back to ‘normal’, following the COVID-19 pandemic?
Laura Powers: We have a list on the refrigerator of ‘Things To Do Once Lockdown Is Over’. It gives my family something to look forward to! Some of the items are eating in a restaurant, traveling for vacation, going back to the gym, and visiting a movie theatre. Seeing our extended family is something we are all looking forward to, but we’ve had a few occasions when we’ve seen them socially distanced. It is not the same as a hug or a conversation over a good meal, but we’re looking forward to those things too!

2. Who would you describe as a “successful” person? Please share why.
Laura Powers: I think a human success story is someone who actively participates, who strives to educate themselves, and who works to develop their empathy skills. A truly successful life is one of service. Opportunities to work in the public interest and for social good are all around us, and those who leverage these opportunities are the ones who enrich their own lives the most.

3. Who is your inspiration when it comes to doing good for society?
Laura Powers: A lot of folks inspire me, especially U.S. VP Kamala Harris. As San Francisco’s first Indian-American and Black District Attorney, as California’s Attorney General, then as a member of the U.S. Senate, she is achieving insider access to places where people like her have not historically been in charge. Of course, that is true of her current position and it is so encouraging. It gives me hope to see the face of our traditional white male institutions transform, albeit slowly, to be more inclusive and diverse.

4. Kindly comment on your success in raising funds for the Equal Justice Center and the Philadelphia Bar Foundation. How did navigating the unique challenges of this environment help you grow, both personally and professionally?
Laura Powers: I am very fortunate to be working with a team on a start-up project that promises to transform and enhance the way people receive free legal services in the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Many remarkable organizations specialize in legal services for those that can’t afford a lawyer in the U.S. legal system. This special project, the Equal Justice Center, is working on innovative methods using technology, community members, and collaboration to increase the amount of people that those agencies can serve. The need for equal access to justice is incredible and overwhelming, and I hope this work can make a difference. It is rewarding and has stretched my capabilities and capacity for flexible, large-scale community projects and creative philanthropic strategies.

5. Is there a mantra or aphorism you live by?
Laura Powers: I have learned a lot about myself, my weaknesses, and my strengths by asking the question about my own thoughts: Is It True? It is human nature to immediately believe the thoughts in our heads. Until we question them, they have complete control over our actions, reactions, and motivations. When we begin to question them and answer those questions honestly, those thoughts lose their power over us. Is It True? has released me from many painful misunderstandings I have about my own beliefs.

6. What advice would you give to future members of the Girl Power Talk community, who are just starting their careers or trying to ‘figure it out’?
Laura Powers: Don’t be concerned with moving ahead or where you are going next. Focus on educating yourself about subjects you are sincerely interested in and consider every day how you can do your best in your current role. Most importantly, focus on building relationships. There are so many elements of your career that are out of your control and in other people’s hands. But you control the relationships you build, your integrity, and the results you deliver, and these will keep you moving in the right direction.

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