Board Member - Kathy Lambert
For the past 19 years, Kathy’s work and passion have been devoted to ending the “cycle of poverty”. Her journey began in 1997 with a “nudge from God” after she read an article about Dress for Success New York, a nonprofit with a mission to help women re-enter the workforce by providing interview clothing. Before she knew it she was launching Dress for Success Midwest in St. Louis dedicated to helping women coming from disadvantaged situations transition to economic stability. She quickly learned of the difficulties of being a low-income single mom including the lack of transportation, and the trappings of the welfare and prison systems. She knew more needed to be done, but how? In 1999 her husband, Brad, listened to the needs for transportation and left his career to start a nonprofit, Wheels for Success. In 2001, they merged their organizations together to form Connections to Success (CtS), with a mission to break the cycle of poverty and incarceration for the next generation.
Volunteers are a part of the CtS culture recognizing that the community needs to be a part of the solution in breaking the cycles of poverty & incarceration. CtS actively engages volunteers through partnerships with corporations, small businesses, the faith-based community, and utilizes volunteers in all aspects of the life transformation process through CtS, including assisting in the Dress for Success suiting boutiques, providing workshops in coding, financial education, and career development, providing a meal, mentoring, and many other volunteer possibilities. As we always say, “Volunteers join us in doing life together, none of us can do this alone”.
Today, CtS is nationally recognized as an evidence-based model for improving children’s futures by first empowering parents to become economically independent through its innovative employment training and retention program and by addressing the social and economic needs related to work, home and community. Locally Connections is impacting the lives of over 10,000 parents with over 30,000 children for a brighter future.
Empowering families with the hope and resources needed to transition from dependence to independence provides a return on investment to funders of CtS along with all taxpayers. New federal, state and local income tax receipts coupled with reductions in incarceration costs and government assistance results in a 3:1 return compared to the costs of services provided.
The greatest impact are the children of the men and women who became a part of CtS many years ago. Today their children are not only graduating from high school, they are graduating from college, completing apprenticeship programs, becoming business owners, home owners and not repeating the struggles of their parents.
In May of 2017, Kathy received the St. Louis Women of Achievement Award for Social Enterprise. Kathy has received awards from the State of Missouri and the U.S. Department of Labor and the 2013 Volunteer Service Award from President Obama. In June of 2014, Kathy was invited to participate in an invitation-only White House Summit for Working Families. She is a graduate of Focus St. Louis Leadership and of the 2013 National Practitioners Leadership Institute where she now serves as a faculty member. She served as the first Board President for Dress for Success Worldwide.