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Lindsay Laird, Arnall Family Foundation

Grad Shares Gratitude for the Support and Opportunities at UCO

Lindsay Laird, University of Central Oklahoma graduate and vice president of programs for the Arnall Family Foundation, began her path to higher education with core classes at Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City while working at a fitness center and as a nanny. A lot to take on as a young adult, Laird found her footing at community college while looking for a university that would help her cross the finish line to attain her bachelors. Transferring was easier than expected, and like a majority of community college students who transition to Regional University System of Oklahoma universities, Laird saw that UCO’s location, affordability and quality academic programs played a crucial role in her success.

“Although I was the age of a traditional college student, I didn’t feel like one since I was working full time. UCO felt more welcoming to me and better met my needs than other options,” she said. “Especially since the vast majority of college expenses were my responsibility, I wanted to find a university that would offer a quality education but not leave me with a lot of debt.”

In addition to ensuring her long-term financial security, Laird found UCO to be a supportive environment with memorable educators that cultivated her abilities and potential.

“Drs. Sherry Ward Johnson, Terry Clark and Mark Hanebutt were all incredibly influential professors who stood out to me. And Jill Kelsey, although not one of my professors, was also an awesome encourager and connector,” Laird said. “They all had really high standards for students.”

Now in her role with the Arnall Family Foundation, Laird helps her organization empower community partners to create lasting, transformative change through strategic investments and innovative partnerships in the areas of child welfare and criminal justice reform.

“I feel incredibly grateful and humbled to be working in philanthropy. It’s a privilege to do this work and every day I try to use this opportunity to create a more just and equitable society,” she said.

In one such program, “Fostering Student Success,” Arnall Family Foundation partners with UCO to provide support to young adults who have interacted with the foster care system in their efforts to attain a college degree.

“For me, having just one caring adult changed my life, and I feel like UCO did a great job preparing me for the workforce by encouraging internships and connecting me to prospective employers,” Laird said.

Laird spent most of her early childhood with her single father and brother. Living on a very limited income, she credits teachers and other adults for stepping in as mentors during some of her most formative years.

“We hope our program creates similar experiences and success for individuals while they launch their careers and shape their futures.”

Laird’s other achievements include being named as an OKCBiz Achiever Under 40. She is a graduate of Linking Oklahoma City’s Young Adult Leaders (LOYAL) Class IV. She serves on the board of directors for ReMerge, a comprehensive female diversion program. In 2018, Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat appointed Laird to the Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth.

Lindsay Laird, center, and her family enjoy the outdoors.


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