Lauren Branson

Community Impact & Grants Manager / 239-261-7112 ext 211

Driven by a desire to empower her community, Lauren inspires those around her with deep compassion. The tenacity of that drive is clear when she is working with community members to listen, understand, and validate their needs or concerns. Lauren lives by Brené Brown’s philosophy that empathy fuels connection while sympathy drives disconnection. Her work is further guided by a strengths-based approach which is fundamental to developing relationships and generating permanent change. Meeting people and communities where they are at - while promoting their strengths - produces a space in which personal agency, resiliency, and self-sustainability flourish.  
 
United Way’s mission is to improve lives by mobilizing the caring power of our community, but Lauren has the challenge of identifying how we can best support our mission through Community Impact initiatives. Her leadership of Collier 2-1-1 furnishes an unfiltered view of the issues facing our community, including unique scenarios that require creative solutions in real-time. Immediately following Hurricane Irma, Collier 2-1-1 data revealed residents could not afford their homeowner’s insurance deductibles. United Way used this data to better understand the community’s needs and created programs to address gaps in service, such as the Home & Auto Insurance Deductible Assistance Program. Lauren is always seeking out new partnerships, whether the benefit is a brainstorming session, or a community building event.  
 
Lauren operates under the assumption that the individual and larger society do not function as independent, static entities. Systems theory is a holistic view of individuals within an environment and is best applied to scenarios in which several social systems inextricably overlap and influence one another. This theoretical approach, in conjunction with real-time data and the relationships she has developed, provide Lauren a unique vision and platform to advocate for public policy initiatives that support United Way of Collier’s mission. 
 
Lauren holds a Master of Social Work with a concentration on macro-level systems change from Boston University School of Social Work, and a Bachelor of Arts in Law & Society from Oberlin College. We are thrilled to have such a dedicated collaborator on our team.