Human Resources and Nonprofits

Q&A: Laura Mitchell

January 9, 2018
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Laura Mitchell
Laura Mitchell. Courtesy Samaritas

Editor’s note: Each Q&A in the Influential Women enewsletter will feature a woman from the region who’s influential, a rising face in her industry or doing interesting work. Submit tips on potential Q&A subjects to tgortsema at grbj dot com.

Laura Mitchell is the executive director of foster care at Samaritas and oversees the support of more than 800 children in foster care and 500 foster families daily. 

Mitchell has worked for Samaritas (formerly Lutheran Social Services of Michigan) for 29 years, always in the child welfare/foster care service area. 

Over the course of her career, Mitchell has held various foster care positions, including in casework, foster home licensing and management.

Biggest career break?

When I became a program director July 1995. I was a supervisor at the time, and when the director left, I wasn’t thinking about applying for the position. The VP at the time told me he assumed I would apply and that gave me the confidence to do it. I was happy with my position, but it was even more fulfilling as a director (which I was for 20 years in the west and southwest Michigan regions, before Samaritas created the position of executive director of foster care and promoted me to it). 

Proudest moment?

Leading the Michigan Teen Conference planning committee annually

Best advice you’ve ever received?

From my father, who said: “Don’t worry over things you can’t change.”

How did you make your first dollar (excluding babysitting)?

I grew up in Northville and got my first job at 15 as a waitress at a local restaurant, Cloverdale. It was a great breakfast spot and ice cream shop. I served breakfast in the morning and scooped a lot of ice cream at night! 

Most-treasured possession?

Scrapbooks and family photos

Dream job?

Event planning

If you were president for a day, you would…?

Institute positive media coverage, with uplifting stories as a standard media approach. The ripple effect of positivity would be incredible!

Last book you read?

The Rooster Bar,” by John Grisham

Last search term you googled?

aapi (or adult adolescent parenting inventory)

Your worst habit?

Biting my nails

To unwind, you like to…?

Walk in the woods behind the house with our dog, Bella (yellow Lab, 9 years old).

Dream vacation?

Ireland!

Favorite food?

Homemade pizza

Person you most admire?

My sister, Anne. She’s fierce to her soul, around important things like basic humanity, acceptance, community, decency. It’s not Pollyanna. Anne is a fierce promoter of many things and has a wonderful way of engaging and including. She’s six years older than me. 

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