2019 TOP 20 CEOS AND ENTREPRENUERS AWARDS
A CEO and President Who Puts Children First
Sunday, May 19, 2019
The Ballroom at Bayou Place
Laura Ward is president and CEO of Houston Children’s Charity (HCC). She has served as the executive director since its inception in 1996 and was elected president and CEO in 2016. Laura has been the driving force behind HCC and the work it has done for over 300 agencies and 3,000,000 children for the past 23 years. The nonprofit is dedicated to improving the quality of life for Greater Houston’s underprivileged, abused, and disabled children who would otherwise have been left behind.
As part of a large family, Laura learned the value of sharing early and developed a nurturing spirit as a young child. After receiving her Bachelor of Science degree from Louisiana University, she began volunteering in earnest while raising her three children. It all started with a fundraiser for Laura’s own children’s school—a spaghetti dinner costing $5 a head held in the high school gym of a private Christian school. Thirty years later, she has raised over $70 million to help the children of Houston. This places her among the top executives of children’s charities.
One of Laura’s first major volunteer efforts was establishing Houston’s first limb bank for children, the only facility of its kind in Texas. For three years, she served as development board chairman for the Arbor School, which provides an intensive educational program for children with developmental disabilities. Continuing on the Arbor School board for nine years, Laura also served on its $6 million capital campaign committee.
Since its inception, HCC, under Laura’s direction, has developed a number of outstanding programs to meet the various needs of Houston’s children, including: “Chariots for Children,” which provides safe efficient transportation to families of disabled and/or wheelchair-bound children by providing handicapped-accessible vans; “HCC Closet,” which allows families in need to shop with dignity, in a boutique setting, for items of clothing at no cost; “Back2School,” which has helped 30,000 under-served children across five counties achieve success in school since 2005 by providing them with backpacks filled with all the supplies they need on day one; and “A Better Night’s Sleep,” which distributes beds to those without one and has provided over 11,000 since the program’s inception in 2007.
Laura has contributed her time and expertise to innumerable charitable events while working with various other philanthropic organizations in the city. A small selection includes: the annual galas for Variety Club of Houston, Arbor School, Houston Furniture Bank, and Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach Foundation’s Inaugural Health Champions Gala. She has also chaired the first Sunshine Kids Golf/Tennis Classic, the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation’s Cabana Caper, the first Chuck Norris Kick Drugs Out of America Dinner, the James Beard Foundation Annual Scholarship Dinner, and Lucy’s Legacy: The Hidden Treasures of Ethiopia.
For three years, Laura served as underwriter party chair for Texaco/Havoline’s Mayor’s Grand Prix event. She has also served as The Houston Police Foundation’s event chair for the Annual Police Week Awards Luncheon and as dinner chair for the foundation’s True Blue Gala since its inception. Both Laura and her husband, Dave Ward, were honorary chairpersons for the 2015 capital campaign for the Crime Stoppers of Houston Dave Ward Building, which serves as the first Crime Stoppers headquarters in the nation. Most recently, Laura co-chaired Arrow’s Freedom Place Luncheon, providing security for victims of sex trafficking.
In appreciation of her remarkable achievements, Laura has received numerous honors. Some of these are: being named Outstanding Fundraising Professional at National Philanthropy Day by the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Greater Houston Chapter (2010); being named Forward Mover for CancerForward in its inaugural year (2010); being named by The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America as one of its Women of Distinction (2011); being honored at the René Moawad Foundation Gala (2012); being inducted into the Greater Houston Women’s Chamber of Commerce Hall of Fame (2015); being named one of Houston’s 50 Most Influential Women of 2015 by Houston Woman Magazine (2015); being honored with the Leiv Platou Crime Stoppers Award (2016); and being named one of 2016’s Women Who Mean Business by Houston Business Journal and one of 2018’s Most Admired CEOs also by Houston Business Journal. Most recently she was featured in The Houston Chronicle’s “Inspiring People” article.
As one would expect, for someone who has accomplished so much in the service of children and her community, Laura has received many other deserving awards and honors, but they are too many to mention here.
Believing that “Need never takes a vacation,” Laura is passionately devoted to her mission of helping Houston’s children and families in need. She is untiring in championing this cause and selfless in her devotion to it.
CKW LUXE would like to congratulate Laura Ward for being a CKW LUXE Top 20 CEOs and Entrepreneurs Awards recipient for 2019.