Posted by Craig Buhrendorf

Lauren Gardner was raised in Farmington, Connecticut in the same house her father grew up in, graduating from Farmington High School in 2011. She pursued her Bachelor of Social Work with a minor in psychology at Southern Connecticut State University, graduating magna cum laude in 2015.

At the age of sixteen, after being encouraged to strengthen her resume for prospective colleges, Lauren began volunteering a few days after school at FOCUS Center for Autism. What she once viewed as an easy way to enhance her resume, rapidly turned into a passion that she followed into a career. Lauren quickly fell in love with the FOCUS clientele, adoring their individuality, honesty and unique perspectives. She also fell in love with the FOCUS organization, its approach and how it transformed lives, including her own.

While in college, Lauren continued to work part time at FOCUS alongside her mom and fellow Rotarian, Yvonne and part time at J. Timothy’s Taverne with her dad Greg, the restaurant’s General Manager. (You could say they are a pretty close family.) In the end Lauren chose the non-profit lifestyle over a potentially lucrative career in the restaurant industry.

After graduating college, Lauren was offered a full time position with FOCUS. August of 2019 will mark her tenth year with the organization. She often finds it difficult to describe what she does at FOCUS, as the non-profit requires her to wear many different hats. She can find herself marketing one day and substitute teaching the next, while fixing toilets or filming content for their television show in between (just to give a few examples). “Every day is different and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Lauren is a proud advocate for individuals with autism spectrum disorder and other related disorders. She is constantly working towards her dream of increasing services for this underfunded and underserved population in our community.

Currently living in West Hartford with her boyfriend Justin, Lauren enjoys spending time with her friends, family and their dogs Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski. She also enjoys bargain shopping, traveling, skiing in the winter, hiking in the summer and eating all year round (she is a total foodie!)