Lauren’s story begins with the strength and struggles of her immigrant family. When Lauren’s grandmother Kimiko married her grandfather Thomas, he was serving in the U.S. Air Force in Japan. Lauren’s father Harold was born before the family immigrated to Mannington, West Virginia.
Following his honorable discharge from the U.S. Air Force, Lauren’s grandfather became a coal miner to feed his family. While working in West Virginia’s coal mines, Thomas became a victim of the greed and shortcuts of a corporation that did not prioritize the safety of its workers. He was one of the 78 victims of the 1968 Farmington Mine Disaster. Kimiko, a newly widowed young mother who barely spoke English, was forced to feed her family on small Social Security checks. She studied nursing at night school to better provide for her family.
On Lauren’s mother’s side are hardworking Pennsylvanians who had a small family-owned trailer repair business. While Lauren was in high school, her grandfather fell and broke his neck, becoming a quadriplegic for life. As her family redesigned their home for her grandfather’s wheelchair access, Lauren became acutely aware of the difficulties facing people with disabilities. She has carried her keen awareness of the lack of disability access to public transportation and public spaces throughout her life.
Lauren’s interest in politics and history was sparked during her senior year of high school as an exchange student in Germany with AFS (American Field Service). She lived with a host family that she still considers her “second family.” This was a pivotal experience for Lauren, where her visit to a World War II concentration camp taught her about the horrors and atrocities humans inflict on one another.
Lauren returned home from Germany to attend college, receiving a B.A. in International Relations and a Master of Public Administration. Her studies coincided with the economic collapse of 2007 and Lauren worked 40 hours a week at a temporary job with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development while carrying a full-time course schedule at night.
Upon graduation, she worked as a policy analyst studying energy assistance programs for low-income families. She then worked to create affordable housing in Mercer County, Pennsylvania. These experiences solidified her belief that affordable housing and access to electricity and heat are basic rights. Lauren then moved to New York City and went to comedy school, performing standup comedy around the city.
In 2016, she began to produce comedy shows to create a safe place for comedians to practice their craft. Her free monthly charitable comedy shows, aptly named “Collection Box Comedy,” showcased diverse comedic talent and collected donations from attendees for non-profits focused on civil rights, women’s rights, feeding the hungry, animal rights and rescue, disaster recovery, education, and prison reform. Since November 2016, she has raised over $10,000 in charitable donations, recruited volunteers, and built strong relationships with local and national charities.
Lauren is a proud member of the Middle Collegiate Church, a congregation known for its love-based activism in New York City and globally. In 2017, Lauren became directly involved in the successful Women’s March on NYC as a project manager, analyst, fundraiser and recently emcee for the Women’s March Alliance. She has worked in compliance in the banking sector, which played a big role in her strong belief in progressive policies that protect people in the face of rampant corporate greed.
Lauren is a fighter for equality and human rights and she will serve her congressional district with passion, integrity, and purpose.
- Lauren has two rescue cats named Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1 year old) and Jean Louise (14 years old, named after Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird, her favorite book).
- Lauren speaks fluent German from her exchange year to Germany with AFS.
- Lauren plays clarinet, piano, saxophone and bass guitar and cites her music education as a reason for her deep sense of humanity.
- A major foodie, Lauren’s favorite New York restaurants are listed (in no particular order) below:
-Afghan Kebab House
-L&B Spumoni Gardens (Lauren’s favorite pizza)
-Paul’s Da Burger (Lauren’s favorite burger)
-Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot
- Speaking of food, Lauren’s favorite food is “any culture’s version of a pocket of dough filled with deliciousness,” e.g. gyoza, pierogi, momos, samosas, empanadas, ravioli, etc.
- Lauren’s Fortnite username is VoteAshcraft. Add her if you play too! Her other favorite games are anything in the Zelda or Grand Theft Auto franchises.